Too late for that now, isn’t it? And, that long and winding could’ve, should’ve’s, just keeps on pilin’ up, doesn’t it??? Translated…
Six years ago, without a warning, my father had died.
My father was an army officer who’d originated in China, who’d come to Taiwan on his own, without knowing a single soul, didn’t marry and start his family until he was forty years of age. He’d worked hard his entire life, later on, he had dementia, in his final years, because of work, and I lacked the patience, I’d blamed him for his irrational behaviors, and I’d mostly blown him off rather than taken care of him. His death was so sudden, and I couldn’t get out of blaming myself for NOT spending enough time with him for a very long time.
Two years after he’d died, I’d finished what I should’ve done with him whilst he was still alive, I’d gone back to the ancestral home he’d often talked about. I took my mother along, as the plane landed in Chengzhou Airport, I’d called out to him mentally, “Dad, I’m back at home now”.
Looking at the unpaved roads, the farm village, and the old and estranged “house made by mud”, this, was where my father grew up, the land he’d walked on, the place he’d called his home.
When he was still alive, he’d always wanted to bring us all back here, to offer incense to his own forefathers, and even though, only one daughter had made it back, and we couldn’t get on our knees and bow our heads on our grandparents’ graves, but, it was like a sort of a ritual, I felt, that I can finally answer to my own father, and my paternal grandparents now. The moment I’d kneeled and bowed my head to their graves, I couldn’t help, but cried, and I’d sighed on how everything came too little, too late.
A year after we’d returned from China, my older cousin called us, said that the ancestral home had been taken down. My mother and I are all very glad, that we made it back there when we had, otherwise, we wouldn’t even have the chance of seeing where my father grew up.
When my father came to Taiwan, he didn’t have the time to say goodbye to his own parents and siblings; as he left this world, he also didn’t have time to say farewell to his wife and children. After I’d made the trip back to his hometown, his old home had already been demolished, I think, this, might be what my father had in mind, this, was the way he’d said goodbye to his hometown, and to his family, I suppose.
And so, you should’ve taken him back, but you didn’t, just like how my maternal grandmother still talked of how her two children had yet to visit her ancestral home in China too, and this just showed, how the elderly population feels this strong drive about returning to their place of origin, on last time before they’d passed on, and yet, NOT very many get to do that, because of health issues, along with immobility, and what-not’s that came with the elderly years.