A father’s deathbed wish has been putting his son on a plane from the US to Taiwan every month over the past decade to fulfill his father’s filial duty to his mother.
Several years after setting down in Los Angeles and becoming the father of two children and the chief financial officer of a local corporation, Tzu Chi Academy principal Tonny Hsu (許鴻裕) flew across the Pacific Ocean in June 2002 to spend time with his terminally ill father, who had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Hsu planned to keep his father company in his last days, but his father fell into a coma after choking on phlegm one night.
However, an unexpected turn of events occurred when Hsu was whispering in his father’s ear to see if he would miraculously respond.
“I started by saying that I would be the pillar of the family, and there was no response, not even a twitch of his eyelid. Then I said I would take care of grandma and would come home every year, and yet still no response,” Hsu said.
“But when I said I would come to see grandma once a month, my father’s heart rate surged to 90 beats per minute,” Hsu said.
Hsu’s father passed away shortly afterward and Hsu believed that was his way of expressing his final wish.
Although his father’s death-bed wish was not conveyed to him through words, but through a heart rate monitor, Hsu still decided to honor the wish and care for his grandmother, who was 98 years old at the time. Since August 2002, Hsu has been flying back to Taiwan every month, staying for about 10 days each trip, during which he takes his grandmother to the doctor, chats with her or simply sits next to her while she falls asleep.
“Every time I come back to Taiwan, I can see a look of contentment and joy on my grandmother’s face, even though she keeps nagging me over making the trip regardless of my packed business schedule,” Hsu said.
Hsu said he hardly needed to adapt to the time difference between Taiwan and the US because he can deal with business affairs via e-mail during his visits between 2am and 6am in Taiwan, which is between 8am and 12pm US time.
“Sometimes, I only take a brief morning nap before spending time with my grandmother,” Hsu added.
Over the course of the past 11 years, Hsu has flown about 2.7 million kilometers.
To help pay for his long-distance travels, Hsu had to sell two properties after his father’s death and divide the money from the sales into two parts, one for the daily expenses of his mother and grandmother and one for his travel.
Hsu’s filial actions became known to China Airlines, which pledged to reserve a seat for him whenever he decided to leave for Taiwan, with some flight attendants sometimes preparing souvenirs for Hsu’s grandmother.
Hsu’s story also touched many students in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Yong Ping High School, some of whom even volunteer to keep Hsu’s grandmother company when he is not around.