By Ronnie Lee
It was 14 years ago, during the late nights after work, that I spent two to three hours with my ailing mother to document her life story and last wishes. My head was in a spin then, asking if it would be too late to get to know her since all her life was focused on raising her ten children. She was dying from late-stage colorectal cancer. After her operation in 2006, I would drop by to visit her. To make things more meaningful, I began to put my writing skill to work during each of my visits.
But where do I begin? I began by asking about her life and what was in her mind knowing she was about to leave us. With just a pen and a logbook, I began to ask her questions, and from her answers, some in verbatim, that I would record down so that I could reproduce it on the computer later. Over a period of two months up till her demise, I managed to document her life history, her relationships with her children, close friends, and relatives she grew up with. I began to create a file on my old computer for me to work on again later to its conclusion.
Sitting down to write my next article, I thought it is more appropriate to write something fresh on what I am currently doing. After my retirement recently and 14 years after my mother’s passing, I am able to relook into completing her story. It is still work-in-progress although I am almost done with the family tree of my grandparents. I chose the title of the article, “Where Do I Begin”? as my mother’s life story has a great similarity to a movie in 1970 called The Love Story.
The Love story movie theme song, in a nutshell, is about how life would change with the first Hello and pure love from the heart is special to help ride through life’s turbulences without feeling lonely. Yes, there may not be answers to many of the problems faced, yet true love is worth every hour and minute of longing for each other until the end.
The family tree is an important part of any family. This brings to mind Matthew 1:1-17 on the genealogy of Jesus Christ. Reading this portion of the scriptures gives us a sense of the importance and urgency of Jesus’ mission, according to the prophecies over many centuries. It took me some time to record my mum’s family tree with great stories over five generations beginning from my grandparents.
The genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1:17 specifically mentioned 42 generations from Abraham to Jesus Christ. That was how long it took for the scheme of redemption of the world, as prophesied by the prophets of God, to come into existence. It’s also where the mystery of the gospel (Ephesian 3:1-12) was ultimately revealed. In verse 6, it explains that “This mystery is that the gentiles are now made fellow heirs, member of the same body and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” Paul highlighted the reason for his ministry in verse 7, “Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power.”
He further reminded the Ephesians, that “this was according to the eternal purpose that he (God) has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him” (ESV). In verse 13, Paul further encouraged the Christians in Ephesus not to lose heart over what Paul was suffering. He explained that it was all for their glory.
By completing my mother’s life story together with the family tree, I hope that it will also encourage and rekindle the closely knitted community amongst family members and relations. Up to the early 90s, the relationship amongst kindred was considered very good. Mutual visits during festive seasons like Chinese New Year were common. However, after our parents grew older and many have passed on, each family was drawn away by their own challenges. That closely knitted relationship amongst kindred may never be back to its olden days.
However, I was hoping that by producing the documents and reflecting on where we came from, the younger generation of each family may rekindle the spirit of oneness or at the very least acknowledge its existence through mutual contact where possible. During the information gathering stage on the family tree, I have the opportunity to talk to some of my older relatives on the purpose of the family tree and also sharing my own family tree information with them as and when completed. One of my relations acknowledged that with the family tree, we will have some idea about each other. In short, we will not lose out even when we do not meet as often as before. At least we will not be strangers when we meet in the future.
As members of the body of Christ, we should feel strongly encouraged and edified by the word of life that is in our hands as well as knowing the authority of Jesus from his lineage. We should never lose heart nor feel like strangers in the body of Christ. As Paul emphasized in verse 13 above, we need to hold on and not lose heart because the eternal glory of God will be our inheritance when this life is over.
Where do I begin? As we begin to come of age, it helps to understand more about what it means not to lose heart. Disappointments and challenges in life are aplenty and will surely come to pass. It is through trials and tribulations that our faith be tested. Fortified with patience, our faith will one day reap the inheritance and crown of life (James 1:12), according to the promise of God.
We may be distracted by the overwhelming attachment to the things of this world. But remember to ask “Where Do I Begin?” and what is the eternal purpose in which God has taken over 42 generations for Christ to come and provide the scheme of eternal redemption.
“Since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God” 1 Peter 1:22-23, let our hearts consider “Where Do I Begin” as an assurance from God’s word.