Monday, September 23, 2013

Honor Thy Father (in-law).

Shu Zii Li was a fatherly friend. He proved his friendship by asking for help and always offering the same.

If I had delivered a eulogy at his funeral today, I would have told two stories that paint a picture of this remarkable man. Instead, I made a short video that you'll find below. It came from my heart.

When I first met Xiao Mei, she and her father were visiting her brother's family in Eagle Rock for six months. They were living in China at the time. Her brother had rented her a small, backyard apartment. I wasn't allowed to walk back there or to disturb the family that lived in the front house. So when we had a date, all I could do was sit in my car and wait for her to come out. She had no phone.

One drizzly evening, I waited longer than usual. While I sat in my car, I marveled at the little, old, Asian man on crutches who always seemed to be taking his walks along that street. When Xiao Mei finally came out, the man was walking by. I smiled at him. As he walked past, Xiao Mei told me that he was her father

I immediately chased after him (not a difficult jaunt, considering he was on crutches) and introduced myself. I was surprised that he spoke such good English. I was even more surprised when he said to me, "You quoted someone in your book, The Investigator's Handbook. You wrote, 'Virtue, though in rags, will keep me warm.'" He explored my eyes with his and then said, "Does this mean you will have a difficult time supporting my daughter?"

He had read a book that I had asked Xiao Mei to give to her brother. I'm not sure if John read it, but there's no doubt that Papa had read it.

He and I got off to a great start.

When Papa and Mama moved to the United States, he stayed in our rented house in Hesperia. Even though he was in his late 70s, he was determined to remain in contact with his friends in China and around the world. He had a desktop computer and he spent hours and hours on it. He did research and he sent email messages.

One day he asked me if I could help him make the computer work properly. He explained that, whenever he turned it on, he was flooded with advertisements he said he didn't want. I told him I'd look at it. When I turned on his computer, it was clear that male porn sites had taken control of it. The man is old. He's missing a leg. His wife is staying down in South Pasadena with his son. Who am I to judge about his internet surfing preferences. I simply focused on cleaning out the porn junk and restoring his home page. I made no comments.

Then he said something that explained it all. "Don Ray," he said, "I have a personal medical problem I have been trying to research on the internet. It's an anal problem and I'm looking for information about it." That explained everything.

"Papa," I said, "please allow me to give you a suggestion. You might have better luck if you use the word "rectum" in your searches instead of the word, "anal."

When he and Mama moved into a nice, senior apartment in L.A.'s Chinatown, he continued to spend time on the internet. It was a blessing for me because, whenever his computer was struggling with viruses or registry problems, he'd call on me to help. I was blessed to be able to spend hours and hours with him while we ran anti-virus programs and did other maintenance. We replaced a couple of hard drives along the way and we downloaded some programs that would help keep a watchful eye on his cyber world. Mama and Xiao Mei scolded Papa for calling on me so often. But Papa and I treasured the time together.

I really loved that man. Here's a short video I put together for his funeral today. I hope you'll enjoy knowing him a little bit more.