A Little Thoughtfulness Often Goes a Long Way

By Qin Sun Stubis

It’s hard to believe that 22 years and 11 months could have gone by since I stuffed my belongings into two suitcases and headed for an adventure in America.

Thinking back, I don’t know how I did it. Lately, out of nostalgia, I tried to tap into my memory about what had actually happened on that fateful day.

To my surprise, I remembered little about leaving home and boarding a plane bound for New York City.

I admit that I was overwhelmed by my own emotion about leaving, the busy last few days of packing, and final “goodbye” rituals. Even more, I was scared, panicking about the looming uncertainty instead of savoring my last few hours at home and first international journey.

But on that very blurry day, one single incident remains clear to me, as vivid as if it had just happened. Right before I left for the Shanghai International Airport, my mother, too emotionally shaken to go with me, handed me a tiny pair of folding scissors and said, “I want you to have these. They’ll come in handy one day.” Her shaking hands touched mine as she pressed them into my palm. I knew they were hers for as long as I could remember. She used them to trim our nails when my sisters and I were little. I placed the scissors on my keychain and gave her one last hug. My tears fell on her shoulder and made a wet patch before I wiped my eyes with the back of my hand and let go. I didn’t want to cry in front of my mother. And, I didn’t know how long it would be before I could see her again.

A little thoughtfulness often goes a long way, and in this case, is lasting a lifetime. After all these years, I still have my mother’s scissors on my keychain, although my keys have been replaced many times as I moved from one place to another, and my mother is long gone. When I miss her and think of all the things she gave to me and all the words she spoke to me, this pair of scissors, along with what she said, remains most special and memorable. They may be only worth a few pennies but they mean the whole world to me, for I can still feel my mother’s presence and feel her warmth through them.

We don’t, and can’t always remember everything that has happened in our lives. Our memory drawers are incapable of keeping track of everything we’ve ever done. Later on, what we end up recalling the most are those little loving touches and moments of thoughtfulness given to us by our family and friends as we live our lives: a homemade birthday card, a dishful of seashells from a faraway place, a framed picture capturing a precious moment…it is through these little things that we bring our past back to life and gain the ultimate meaning of our existence.

You can always reach me at qstubis@gmail.com

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