You no doubt have taken a romantic trip with your sweetheart. If you are a parent, you probably have taken a pleasant trip with your kids. You most certainly have taken at least one solo trip to relax and escape day-to-day stress. But have you ever thought about traveling with your parents to repay them for their loving care? Give it a try! You will see interesting sites and, at the same time, you will be giving each other a lifetime of wonderful memories.
As the National Day holiday (observed from October 1-7) and the Double Ninth Festival (on October 9, the ninth day of the ninth lunar month and a special day to show respect to the elderly) neared, online information about "traveling with your parents" caught the attention of countless Chinese.
One netizen recently suggested in an online post that, despite one's tight schedule, one should take time to travel with his/her parents.
"If you live in a place other than your hometown, and if you accompany, on average, your parents three hours a day during your annual visit with them during Spring Festival, you will be by their side a combined 21 hours a year. Suppose your parents are 55 years old and they live to the ripe old age of 85 years, you will accompany them a combined 630 hours (about 26 days) during the next three decades," the netizen wrote.
During their recent online discussions about their travel plans, many netizens noted they seldom, if ever, verbally express their love to their parents. One netizen, who used the name "Hot, Spicy Soup," wrote, "I have never said 'I love you' to my parents. Of course, I do love them, but I'm simply too embarrassed to say it aloud … I take my parents to fun places during festivals or holidays. It is a good way to express my love and gratitude to my parents."
Zhu Jikang, a professor with the Academy of Social Sciences, under Yangzhou (a city in East China's Jiangsu Province) University, says emotion is an invisible, but strong, tie that links family members together. "Adults are duty bound to provide, both materially and spiritually, for their parents. Given the marked improvement of people's living standards in recent years, many people have traveled with their parents during festivals or holidays, to meet the elders' physiological and spiritual needs."
Zhu suggests people should choose destinations that are suitable for their parents' ages, interests and physical conditions.
A Trip of Rebirth
Gu Yi in 1972 was born into a farmer's family in Yancheng, a city in East China's Jiangsu Province. He grew up to become a senior manager with a joint venture enterprise in Southwest China's Chongqing Municipality.
"My wife was deeply touched by my story when I told her how hard my parents worked to support me and my elder sister and brother in our studies, and how proud my parents were when I was admitted to Peking University, after I had passed the university-entrance examination," Gu recalls. "In 2004, several months after we got married, we moved my parents to Chongqing to live with us.
"We lived happily with my parents. However, my life took an abrupt turn in March 2013, when my father was diagnosed with stomach cancer. My heart ached as I thought about my dear old man had merely enjoyed a few years of leisure life before he was diagnosed with the disease."
A short time later, Gu Quanping, Gu Yi's father, underwent gastrectomy surgery, and followed that with several chemotherapy cycles. Gu Yi will never forget how miserable he felt after the doctor told him that his father's days were numbered.
Gu Yi and his family agreed with Gu Quanping's decision to end his medical treatments. To their pleasant surprise, the elderly man's health gradually improved after he returned home.
In early 2014, Gu Yi's parents returned to Yancheng to visit their relatives and friends.
During the trip, Lü Aiping, Gu Yi's mother, broke her pelvis in a car accident. Gu Quanping became violently ill (possibly brought on by worrying about his wife's injury) and was hospitalized.
While he tended his father in hospital, Gu Yi began planning an overseas trip for he and his parents. He had previously tried to persuade his parents to travel abroad with him, but his parents turned down his offer. "We don't want to go to faraway places," and "we will not be used to the life in a foreign country," they had told him. Hoping to avoid a lifetime of regret, Gu Yi was determined to take his parents abroad, so they could see the world.
As the elderly couple's health gradually improved, Gu Yi in November 2015 took his parents to Melbourne, a city in Australia. "Before we started the three-month trip, I lied to my parents. I told them we would visit my son (from a previous marriage), who was studying in the University of Melbourne," Gu Yi recalls.
For the first time in their lives, the elderly couple traveled on a plane. Gu Yi was pleased to see his parents, who were full of youthful vigor, chat with each other excitedly.
Early in the morning of December 8, which was the elderly couple's golden (50th) wedding anniversary, Gu Quanping sang a love song, which he had written, to Lü at the Queensland Airport. On one knee, Gu Quanping presented wild flowers to his wife. Then, he asked Lü loudly, "Will you marry me?"
Lü stared at her husband blankly for a moment. Then, with tears rolling down her cheeks, she replied, "I will. I will live with you for another 50 years."
Gu Yi's eyes filled with tears as he witnessed the touching scene.
Gu Quanping told Gu Yi, "I was too poor to have a wedding ceremony five decades ago, so I proposed to your mother today to make up for her loss."
Gu Yi arranged a wonderful "program" — skydiving — for his parents on that day. With the instructor's help, the elderly couple jumped from the plane at 14,000 feet. Gu Yi yelled to his parents, "Mom and dad, I wish you a happy wedding anniversary!"
Gu Yi hugged his parents after they landed safely. He was laughing and crying at the same time. He kissed his mother on the forehead. It was the first time he did so since he was a young boy.
Gu Yi was pleased that he had helped his parents rekindle their love for life during the trip. After they returned to Chongqing in February 2016, the elderly couple's health improved markedly. Gu Yi was especially pleased to see his father was able to eat more food during each meal, and that the elderly man had gained weight.
Gu Quanping told Gu Yi he would do his best to improve his health, so he could learn how to drive and travel with his family by car.
In April 2016, Gu Yi posted a photo album online. The album included photos of his parents in Australia, in different settings. The emotion-evoking family photos immediately generated much discussion among netizens. The photos moved many netizens to tears, and some netizens wrote, in various chat rooms, how much they regretted not spending more time with their parents.
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