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  • About a year ago, my grandfather had an accident. On his way to the Farmers' Market, a small piece of stone got into his bicycle tire and he fell off from the bike. After a comprehensive physical examination at the best local hospital, my grandfather was told that he was fine except the blood lost and some bruising on his face. However, this was a hard emotional blow for him.
    I went to visit him in the hospital on a humid summer day. He lied quietly on the bed covered by white sheets. I tiptoed into the ward, trying not to make any sound. Grandpa still felt that someone came in and he opened his eyes slowly. He looked so much older in one night. "You are here!" He tried his best to give me a smile but failed————his face was still swollen. Suddenly, I couldn't hold my tears from falling. I couldn't believe that my grandfather, someone who has always been healthy and energetic, was lying on the bed in a ward, with terrible bruising on his face.
    Not long before the accident, every family member has talked to him seriously about his bicycle. We tried to convince him that the bicycle has been used for too long and it was time for him to stop riding it. The bicycle was too old, just like him. My grandfather insisted that he was still in good shape; the gift he received for his 80th birthday, a walking stick, has never been used, not even once. Ever since he retired, he didn't choose to live a relaxing life, instead, grandfather became busier. He registered some classes at a community college, rode his black bicycle to campus 3 days a week, went grocery-shopping everyday, and took care of everyone in the family by cooking for us. "Your grandfather doesn't want an easy life. He has been a tough man for all of his life." My mother told me this many times.
    I had so much detailed memories about Grandpa and his bicycle. Passed days were like a long black and white film, every time when I close my eyes, I could see and feel those days. Fifteen years ago in developing countries, private cars were luxuries for middle class. Therefore, Grandfather always rode his bicycle to pick me up after school when I was little. He came early and then waited me at the front gate. No matter it was in freezing winter or humid summer. On the way home, I was on the backseat of his bicycle, singing children's folk rhymes with him.
    At this moment, I miss my grandfather's hearty laughter and healthy body. However, the accident that happened one year ago deadened him day by day. Maybe he had to admit to himself that he was not strong or healthy anymore————for the first time, my 82 -year-old grandfather finally realized that he has become an old man. Grandfather became more and more silent; sometimes he lost his temper suddenly. He was still not willing to use a walking stick. It seems like he was declaring war on "Time" over and over again. However, the physical pains defeated him every time. We, as family members, could do nothing except spend more time with him and watch him feel sad. But I, his only granddaughter, couldn't even be there for him.
    Two years ago, I left my hometown and started my college life in another country. Unlike my friends who come back home once a month or more often, I only have two chances to have a family reunion per year: Christmas break and summer vacation. 15 hours of flight. 12 hours time difference. Every time, my grandfather and the rest of the family would arrive at the airport 2 hours earlier and wait for my flight to land safely; he has never been absent. His body that used to be upright and tall seems kind of stooped now. But there is one thing that remains unchanged: like many years ago at the front gate of my primary school, he was still waiting for me, quietly and patiently. His eyes are still bright, it is always effortless for him to locate where I am through the crowd. However, every time when I see him, I can tell how time passed by him with obvious malice.
    Every time when I look back, he was always there. How courageous he is to watch me grow up and then send me away. There was a famous saying from the Analects: "the tree craves calm but the wind won't subside; the son tries to practice filial piety when his parents have died (Analects 32)." I am afraid that every glance would be the last one. I am afraid that I don't even have chance to say goodbye. I am afraid that I wouldn't be there when he needs me the most.
    After Grandpa's accident, I started to write him long letters every month, telling him interesting stories happened around me; I started buying souvenirs for him wherever I travelled to and mailed those small gifts to him regularly. I wish I could do more but Grandpa told me recently on telephone that reading my letters has already been "the most exciting thing in a month".
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