My mom had an old writing desk with a drawer that she always kept locked. None of us six children knew what was inside the drawer. Two months after my mother passed away, my sister opened the drawer. Nothing of value was inside except for a small booklet where all of our birthdays were clearly indicated, even down to the hour and minute.
My mom always said that the greatest wealth in her life was her children. She devoted much of her life teaching us to share, to be responsible, and to always be optimistic. When we were little, my mother would occasionally buy us all popsicles and say: “Let mom have a bite.”
I wished my mom would only take a small bite, or none at all. However, she always had a big bite of my popsicle. I got used to it over time, and whenever I had something good to eat, I would always let my mom have a taste.
If my mother was not at home and I was about to have something good to eat, I would ask one of my brothers and sisters: “Where is mom?”, as if something would not taste as good if I did not share it with her.
When mom was sick in hospital, she asked for some bean juice and persimmons. I eventually found the bean juice, but persimmons were a different story, for they were not in season.
Later that day, I had to deliver a package to the mayor’s house. After I delivered the package and was about to leave, his wife came home from the market with a basket of fresh persimmons. I was overjoyed when she offered six of them to me. I ran straight to the hospital with the fresh persimmons. My mother ate two of them and told me that they “tasted really good!” Sadly, she passed away just three days later.
Besides the six of us, my mom also raised three grandchildren, and all of us knew how to share. Sharing was a family tradition. I shared with my son when he was just a baby, and now he always thinks of me whenever he is about to eat something special.
Once when my son’s kindergarten class had a party, the teacher gave each of the children two pieces of chocolate. After my son received his pieces, he went to the back of the room to find me and said: “Hi mom, please have one of my chocolates.” I opened my mouth, and he popped it right in! When I told him that it tasted wonderful, he ran back to his seat with a big smile on his face.
Another parent sitting next to me said:
“Your son is so caring! Look at my son. He ate his two pieces of chocolate without even glancing up at me.”
I smiled and said:
“Sharing is a habit that can be cultivated when one is very little.”
When my son was 11 years old, he called me at work and said: “Mom, can you come back early today? There is something good at home.” I said yes, but ended up working late. By the time I got home, it was already 9 pm and my son was asleep in bed. When I walked into the kitchen, my mother said:
“You did a good job raising your son. He and your father made cucumber fried shrimp. He ate the little pieces and saved you all of the big ones!”
That day I ate the most delicious shrimp in the world.
Today, my son is grown up and has a son of his own. When ever I say: “Give that to grandma!”, my little grandson immediately puts whatever he has into my hand.
My mother left this world surrounded by her family. And although she did not leave a penny to us, she left us something that was far more valuable. She taught us how to behave properly, how to survive, and how to realize that happiness comes from sharing.
Translated by Yi Ming.
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