Thursday, July 24, 2008

Tao Guiming, 1931-2008

陶贵明,my dad's aunt (second youngest in a family of five), passed away peacefully Sunday of kidney failure at the age of 77. I was at Nainai's for lunch today when I found out. She told me to ask my dad to call her later that night. I said I could call now, and that's when she revealed the news.

I didn't know her well, but my dad and her were very close, so she looked upon me like a treasured grandson -- the only child of eldest children. My parents and I visited her at the People's Hospital (人民医院) two weeks ago, walking through a corridor that smelled like someone had sprayed Lysol over death. We entered a room divided into two sections, each with one aisle and six or seven beds on each side. She recognized us immediately, and I suppose we recognized her, too, if one can recognize skeletons. She was frail, having not eaten in days, and near death -- this much was obvious, but we didn't think of it in those terms. I wonder if we would have said anything different if we had processed this fact.

You're reminded, sitting next to a deathbed, of the fragility of life, yet even so you can't bring yourself to imagine the other side. To imagine the occupant of the bed traveling there. No last words, wisdoms. Comforts, as if that were needed. You can only hold the person's hand, careful so as not to crush it, and offer your sincerest, warmest smile, without any trace of pity or regret.

I wish I had a good picture to put up, but I can't find anything appropriate. This will have to do.

Tao Guiming is survived by her two children, Feiteng 费挺 and Feizhe 费哲, and her younger sister, Guiqin 贵琴.

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