My paternal grandmother died at the ripe age of 94-years-old. My last memories of her was in the summer of 2014; They were the happiest memories I had of her smiley face, missing teeth, and the way her tilted back and her hands covered her vibrating belly when laughter erupted from her pale rose-colored lips. My grandmother and I could not even communicate verbally with each other. She spoke Shanghainese and Cantonese with a twinge of Mandarin thrown in there. I spoke English and very broken Chinese. Yet, we found a way to communicate with hand gestures, facial expressions, and sound effects. Most of our colorful and unique language revolved around food—of course, this should not be a surprise in the slightest. I did not know much about my grandmother because of language barriers, but she tried to show me a bit of her life through old photo albums that were creased and worn out in the binding. . She showed me pictures as a mother, a wife, and a grandmother. She showed me pictures before her family as a dancer decked out in silken clothes wrapped around her slim body. These happiest of memories was before everything began to go: first her body and eventually her mind.
I did not witness when my grandmother’s mind began to go, but I know that before she was about to leave this earth that the one thing the mattered the most to her were all her children. Every single child. From the ones still alive to the ones who died. As a mere outsider observer, I can only guess that parents somehow never see their children as adults or old or aging, but as always their baby to protect, sacrifice, love, care, and put first. Around the time that my grandmother’s mind began to go, one of her children had died suddenly. Being that my grandmother was 94-years-old and already in such a delicate and vulnerable state, no one really saw the point in telling her that her son had died. When the people we love so dearly are fighting for life and have to hold on to hope, suffering, or about to leave this earth, we are forced to make extremely difficult and daunting decisions. These are the kind of decisions that can keep us up at night, bring on wrinkles and worry, and make us question our own capabilities and mortality to do ‘the right thing.’ We are forced into unchartered and unwanted territory that revolves around truth and lies.
I was raised, or, at least, I perceived to ALWAYS tell the truth—no matter how much it may hurt someone else. After all, didn’t we all grow up to ‘honesty is the best policy’? I was and still am confused with this concept of ‘good lies.’ My father told me that good lies are to protect and help someone carry on when they are maybe not able to, while bad lies are purposefully malicious and hurtful. A good friend once said to me that if we have nothing good to say than might as not say it because kindness is more important than telling the truth that can only hurt. Meanwhile, I have other friends who say that lies are NEVER good and that the truth always have a way of coming out—AND, when the truth does come out, it is going to hurt like hell and ruin the relationship. After all, it will take years and tons of memories and moments to build a relationship with trust and respect, but it will take one lie or one supposedly bad thing to cause a relationship to come falling down like a house of cards. The way I see it is to never judge because we never know someone’s options that led to their decisions. I also see it that I actually think all of us know a truth to a certain degree, but cannot face it and even lie to ourselves. I think there are ‘good lies,’ but these good lies are in very gray areas that do not have concrete and clear answers of what makes a lie particularly ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ Have I been lied to? Yes. Have I been betrayed? Yes. Have I been told truth that hurts like hell? Yes. Have I told lies? Yes. And, how about you?
What makes a lie good? What makes a lie bad? Is withholding the truth the same as lying? How did you feel when you found out that you were lied to or vice versa when the other person found out that you had lied? Do we all tell lies and what makes certain lies okay and others not okay? Would you rather know the truth, no matter how much it may hurt? Does the truth always have a way of coming out, even it is supposedly meant to ‘protect’ someone?
Keep smilin’ until we meet again,