Having left Singapore for three years, it sometimes hurt my heart just thinking of Grandpa Zhou, the elderly busker with cerebral palsy who walked with a limp, who had left such a deep imprint on our lives.
We had left him while I was pregnant. Now that we had returned, we had had two children.
During our time away, a few precious friends and blog readers who visited him would try to video call so we could say hello.
Now, visiting him with two of our children in tow was surreal. To think what a crucial role he had played in our lives, that contributed to Cliff and I marrying, when I first witnessed Cliff’s authenticity in helping the poor.
Back then when we met, I was a medical student. Now, a big part of my work involves mentoring medical students.
Tears dammed behind my eyes as he shared with us in that old candid way in Chinese, “Shortly after you left, I fell very sick and never left home. I’ve never played my harmonica again outside. Chronic dizziness. Doctors say I’ll never get better.”
Sarah-Faith seemed to understand. In that cramped, dark living room in his home, she never flinched nor complained, as if she understood the reason for our visit- to tell Grandpa Zhou we cared, and to deliver an air purifier amidst the terrible haze.
“GIFT,” she said. “FOR ZHOU YEYE (grandpa).”
My six-month old infant couldn’t stop giggling and smiling at him.
“My right eye is blind, but I can see your little one loves to laugh!”
His old house, once filled from ground to ceiling with trash because of his hoarding, was now clean, neat and decorated with beautiful furniture, donated from his neighbors upstairs- a reflection of the transformation which had taken place in his life over the years.
Some things had changed drastically, his life never the same after the fragrance of Christ touched his once hardened heart.
And some things, never changed. “Did you bring my steamed yam cake and chee cheong fun (a local dish)? Did you get my red medicated oil?”
Today, on our second visit, we brought along some young people with a heart to serve. Young people who had taken notes from me about Grandpa Zhou’s likes and dislikes, who arrived an hour earlier to buy the food he liked to eat.
“I used to never like visitors. But Wai Jia, now I do feel lonely. I like it when people visit- ask them to come okay?”
As we left, how my heart swelled with warmth when our two year old walked right up to Grandpa Zhou, who must have seemed intimidating in some way, and gave him a confident high-five.
“XIE XIE ZHOU YEYE. GAI TIAN JIAN.” Goodbye Grandpa Zhou, she said. See you again.
And as we left that familiar corridor, we saw his wispy frame leaned against his metal door, saying, “Come again, come again.”
* To those of you who have asked about Grandpa Zhou, he is doing all right but always appreciates company. If you would like to visit him regularly to encourage him, take him for a walk outside or to church nearby on a wheelchair or bless him, please let us know.
More about his story on: http://www.kitesong.sg/category/grandpa-zhou