My good friend George died last week. I went and paid my final respect to this dear friend at his funeral. The service was held in a small chapel in a large and quiet cemetery. There must be a hundred people there, with about half of them standing in the aisles and on the sides.
As successful in terms of career and finance as George was, he never showed any airs of himself in front of people. He was just himself — confident, pleasant, and modest at the same time. Friends, colleagues, and his patients appreciated that and a lot of them took time off from their regular schedule to come to say goodbye to this good man.
His eldest son Jon delivered a short eulogy. Among other fond memories, he told us an incident that happened when he was twelve or thirteen years old during a visit to his dad’s office. (Jon is in his thirties now.) The gist of the story is this. An aged patient came to George, complaining of a toothache. After looking at it, George told her that a molar in the back was badly decayed and needed to be pulled. He asked her if she had dental insurance, which she didn’t. Then George told her it would cost her x dollars for the extraction and y dollars for the replacement. The lady said she did not have the money for the extraction, let alone the ability paying for the cost of a new crown, and asked if George could just do something to stop the pain. George told her not to worry about the bill.
He was going to do it for free for her. He went ahead and pulled the tooth and ordered her a new crown.
When Jon asked his dad why he did that, George simply told him it was the right thing to do.
I related by email the above story to my life-time teacher and friend Miss H. She wrote back and told me this story:
That prompts me to tell you the story of my grandfather whom I have never seen. My father told me about Grandpa’s great love and sacrifice for his elder brother. When my granduncle was seriously ill, Grandpa offered thirty years of his own life for his brother. This was done openly and ceremoniously at the clan’s shrine 祠堂. It seemed God granted his wish. The elder brother recovered while my grandfather died young.
Heroes lived among us common mortals. They still do.
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