Oftentimes, a familiar storyline on a drama show would be this: children who grew up in a poverty-stricken life. They would work hard, and in the end they would become somebody they aspire for. And they would forget their parents. I told myself, their parents do not deserve gratitude from their child, because what the child has become was due to his own doing alone, and parents are not part of their success. Hence such child does not owe his parents anything. They are unworthy of receiving any appreciation.
I told my father about this while we were driving on our way home from visiting my grandmother last week. He told me that, “A good child would say thank you to parents who has provided him a good life. But a loving child would show his gratitude even though their life was not a bed of roses.”
My father then told me his life as a child. He told me that when he was 11 years old, his father died suddenly due to heart attack. My grandmother was left with 10 children, none of whom has even finished their studies.
So my father and his siblings had to work their way in high school and college. My father would tell us that during his college days, he would study during the day and work at night. What he earns, he gives it to his mother, who would add it to their food budget. My father told us he owns just one pair of slacks and polo for uniform. He wears slippers at school, his baon would be dried fish, and his bag was just a plastic bag.
Now, he is a successful businessman. His siblings are also all affluent. Some of them became doctors, while most of them are now lawyers. And yet, despite the hardship, they do not blame their father for dying early, nor their mother for not being able to provide for them a good life. Instead, my father and all his siblings would humbly say “thank you” to my grandmother for the virtues that she has instilled unto them, and for the loving support she has continuously provided them throughout her life.
Now my grandmother is in the hospital, she is currently comatose for more than a month now. And yet, her children, all living from different places and some are even well-known in their profession, would take turns to personally care for her, showing their gratitude to a mother who have devoted her life loving the children that was left for her care. And this, I realized, is the highest form of gratitude: respect for a person who took care of you with the best of her abilities, and humility to that person even after you have reached your dream in life.