An Old Couple
There was an old couple who lived in a small village in Tianjin Bay, Shandong Province, nourishing each other for many years.
In autumn, when a big gourd was picked from the field, the old lady put it on a tall wooden stool and positioned it with her hands as her husband cut it off with a saw. They wanted to make a ladle to scoop water for their daily use.
Resting, they sat against a pile of sunburnt corn. The old lady scratched the old man’s itchy back. “Up a little bit. A little bit more. That’s it!” he said
At the age of six, the old lady had to follow the tradition of binding her toes into the shape of snails. Generally after a busy day of farming, the old lady would put her three-inch “golden lotuses” on her husband’s knee, and he would bow his head down, trimming her stone- hard toenails with great care and patience.
When his finger was carelessly pricked by a thorn while working, the old lady would put on her presbyopic glasses and pick the thorn for him carefully. The old man joked, “You’re not picking a thorn. You’re digging a pit or cutting a tree.”
The old lady would reply in a low, slow voice, “I’m too old and blurred to see it clearly.”
On one Spring Festival, the old lady suffered from her lung disease and was hospitalized. The old man sat alone in the hall, poorly attended and crestfallen. When the old lady’s condition improved, the old man could not wait to rush into the hospital room. The old lady sat on the bed. He sat beside her, and wiping away his tears, he said, “We have been married for sixty-eight years. This is the first time we haven’t spent the New Year together.”
On the 70th anniversary of their marriage, their son bought an air ticket for the couple to travel to Beijing. The old lady, who was flying for the first time, was horribly jittery. The old man pretended to be a hero with an indomitable spirit and held her hands to ease her. After arriving in Beijing, the old couple, with four legs and two crutches, printed their footprints all over the capital, hand in hand.
They grew older, and one day the old man pressed the heavy coffin he had prepared and told the old lady, “You have endured a lot with me all your life. I’ll leave this coffin for you, and make a thin one for myself.”
The old lady beamed with satisfaction and said to everyone she met, “I haven’t wasted a lifetime with a carpenter.”
(From Listen to the Voice of Words: You J in’ s Philosophy of Life, Haitian Publishing House. Translation: Qing Run)