BY GERALD GAO
The meaning of life is not about how much achievement and money you gain, or owning expensive items. Our life becomes more valuable when we encounter someone we love and respect. Only when we find someone who is worth cherishing can we fulfill our life. In my life, I’ve encountered a lot of people: teachers, students, relatives and family. However, Uncle Liu, a former “big friend” of mine who drove me to school and back every day, always stood out. He is only 5 ft 6 with a bald head, but had a strong build In my eyes, he was not only a driver but my childhood mentor who taught me how to play soccer, how to swim, how to climb trees, how to run fast, and how to self defend.
The last Monday of my kindergarten journey was unforgettable. My grandfather, who stood waiting for me in front of the school gate for three years, was not the only one anymore. My father was there, along with another stranger. I slowly walked to my grandfather, cautiously with an unsightly grin on my cheek. I looked up to my dad for a while and turned my gaze onto the stranger. Dad said, “This is Liu, he will send you to school from now on!” The man was not very tall, about 5 ft 6. His tanned skin and muscles told me that he frequently exercised. But the most noticeable thing about him was the bald head. He started balding at forty years old and took care of it every week. Everyone knew Liu, no matter if they were in elementary school or middle school. My dad said, “You can call him ‘Uncle Liu’!” and I called him that for eight years.
“Uncle Liu, where are we going today?”or “Uncle Liu, when are we arriving?” I would ask him whenever I got bored or had questions and difficulties. He was an omniscient figure who could always give me an answer.
Back in third grade in elementary school, the school arranged a track and field day. After hearing I signed up for the long-jump and four hundred meters, Uncle Liu bought a pair of sandbags that I could tie onto my feet. He wanted me to practice every day. From then on, every morning, I got up two hours earlier than usual to run 5 miles and gradually increased my running distance under Uncle Liu’s supervision. He pushed me every time and taught me the skills of running little by little. However, this was easier said than done. I cannot remember how many times I wanted to give up, but Uncle Liu always told me, “no pain, no gain.”
The piano contest in sixth grade was one of my most traumatic moments. When it came to the qualification round for the national competition in Hong Kong, I was confident that I could make it. However, God seemed to have punished my pride, and I got stuck during the performance. I walked out of the hall with a somber face, and Uncle Liu touched my head. Instead of comforting me, he told me what to do after every failure, "Getting stuck during a show is indeed a serious issue, and we are both very sad that you lost a spot in national competition. But keeping your head down is not the solution. You should be proud of your defeat because everyone will confront setbacks and difficulties on their way to success. The failure today will not stop your pace to be successful. Do not get discouraged but practice harder to achieve your goal next time." Uncle Liu's words inspired me. I stood up and took a deep breath. When we got home, Uncle Liu deliberately called my mother and told her to not to scold me for the mistake because I was already upset.
When we moved to the US, we didn’t need him to drive us around anymore. I haven’t seen him since the funeral of my grandfather.
Uncle Liu is not rich at all, but he has a generous heart. There was a sense of security when I was around him. He occupies all my childhood memories.