Great Uncle possessed a trait that most military men don’t – a great love for art, especially painting. This greatly influenced his daughter who became a famous muralist in America.
Decades ago in Hong Kong, when Great Uncle learned that I was taking painting lessons, he would often send me art books from Taiwan. Each book was attached with a note explaining a certain artist’s style which made him or her popular. He always reminded me that I should take time to develop a style that was my own. The art books were usually included whenever he would sent a letter to my father.
Twenty-five years ago when I was a professor of music in Hong Kong and my father having passed away years ago, a friend invited me to visit her in the United States for the summer. The last day of my visit, it suddenly came to my mind that Great Uncle should be living right here in the city I was visiting.
I remembered my father had mentioned that in his old age, Great Uncle had moved here to be with his painter daughter. But since I’d lost all contact with Great Uncle for so many years, the only thing I could do was to pick up the phone book and look for his daughter. There were all together four with the same name, so I tried one by one by asking, “Are you so and so’s daughter?” until I hit the jackpot!
Unfortunately my joy was shattered when the cold voice at the other end of the line said, “He passed away last year.”
Tears filled my eyes. I’d lost my chance to thank Great Uncle -- who gave me all the art books and great advices on paintings – with whom I had never had the chance to “rub shoulders” on this Red Dust.
But fortunately Grand Uncle’s “Don’t imitate the others, be original and find your own style!” still lingers in my heart.