I wrote the following comment in my journal circa 1998 after taking this photograph at his request.
"Lao Ba ('ole dad') scarcely lifts his head from his ancient world filled with the knowledge of a long life, memories of a lost wife and the echo and shadows of the billion black characters he silently painted over the years. Beneath his wife's stunning black and white portrait lay an inscription which he brushed: 'Life is fleeting but virtue is immortal.' "
This bare, elegant image of him
beside the wife he honored with such a soft and certain brush has directed my consciousness and focused my spirit over the years.
I never met my mother-in-law. I dreamed of her only once, soon before my father-in-law was to pass from this world. She was waiting for me to bring a message from my father-in-law which turned out to bear a passage written by Abdul-Baha himself mysteriously purposed outside of time for her eyes.
For me it is no small disappointment to watch such a distinguished generation of Chinese as he was a member of, symbolically receding into the horizon of it's evening. It is a daily and a serious reminder for me- to do my part in distinguishing my own generation by illumined conduct; and lofty, courageous sentiment and vocation throughout life.
Here some photos of my father-in-law and mother-in-law: