Farewell, Uncle

Driving a long haul truck is a hard living. Day and night, the drivers are on the road hauling goods. This leaves them with little time with families and friends. The bumps and jolts on the road and the extended periods of sitting often cause a whole array of chronic occupational ailments. My uncle has been a truck driver ever since I could remember. I have a found memory of sitting in the driver’s cabin and pretending to turn the gigantic truck steering wheel when I was only 5 or 6. There is a picture to prove this — I sat in the giant seat, wearing a little blue beatnik hat, a little aviator jacket, smiling jollily. I also remember that even during holiday seasons and Chinese new years, when everybody in family was together, minding the usual holiday affairs of lighting firecrackers and making dumplings, he was often away from us, hauling goods and materials out on the road.

Business was tough, so he went that extra mile to make sure ends met. Long hours of sitting in the sun in the truck cabin had tanned his skin to a dark brown tone. Having to get up early and sleep late had changed the sclera of his eye from white to somewhat yellow. But my uncle was not at concerned with these. Making a good living is very hard in China, especially if you are from the countryside, without knowledge and education, without connections, normal folks like my uncle had to give an extra effort to survive and to prosper. That’s exactly what he aimed to do. It didn’t matter how much toughness and hardship he had to endure, as long as his wife and son could live better lives, he was satisfied and content.

Years had passed by since leaving the poor countryside for the big city and his hardwork had paid off. He had bought a house and sent his son to university. Every step of the way, everything he had accomplished and made was a result of him firm holding onto the steering wheel with two hands. He was the archetypical strong and stoic self made man. When I visited him last September, he said, “I’ll have a drink with your dad when he comes back.”

It seems that that drink will never come. Human lives are truly fragile. An freakish accident too his life. My uncle has left us. The news of shocked me to the point of disbelief. Why was the young driver driving without a license? Why did he reverse his truck so aggressively? Why did he hit and run? Why should the good and honest people not end well? There are too many “whys” in this world. No one knows the answer to them all.

There are no escape to the fragility and uncertainties of human life. Changes that are bestowed on us are often sometimes irreversible. The only way to deal with them is to respond calmly and continue to live our lives. Continue steadfast at doing the things we find meaningful and striving for what we believe in. Don’t be bothered with the trivial details of everyday life; family, friends, and everyday of our life is what we should cherish. I shall remember the memories of my uncle for I know what kind of man he was, what kind of positive impact had made in the lives of those people he loved.

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