By Dilys Sun
Thirteen years ago, Mama told me,
"You will be a faithful Buddhist.
You will kneel before every sacred statue,
Bury your head in your hands and pray.
You will seek the mountain temples, built
By our ancestors, on cliffs and on peaks.
You will hear the ancient bells
Telling you the forgotten stories."
Eight years ago, Mama said,
"You will respect your grandpa
For every single day of your life.
Also respect your grandma as
You would want your children to respect
Me, whom you love dearly."
Six years ago, Mama taught me,
"You will always remember the deceased:
Both of your grandfathers.
You will remember how they held you
With their tender arms and kissed you
On your forehead. Remember the deceased,
Then never forget to treat the living with extra
Care and love. Love is what everyone needs.
You will demand it, too."
Three years ago, Mama told me,
"Be strong my child, do not let
The foreign land intimidate you.
In front of you, there is future and possibilities.
Behind you, there is always me,
Your mother and your friend.
Here's my gift for you,
By no means is it the last gift,
I offer you the soil of our land.
Forget not its scent,
Nor the people who live on it."
And now, I solemnly reply,
You have given me the gift of
Life and love.
Never can I repay such heavenly gifts.
Therefore I will pass them on,
To my children, and others.
Buddhism has taught me and so have you:
Every stranger I meet
Is a special gift from heaven.
And I, your daughter, will treat
Every sacred guest with the heavenly gifts
You have granted me."
Dilys Sun, who grew up in western China, moved to San Francisco four years ago at the age of 15. She studied at the San Francisco Waldorf High School and this fall, she joins the class of 2010 at Stanford University. We are honored to welcome her as the first California writer to appear on MyStoryLives!