Blessed are the selfless!

I was a bit amazed that in the last couple of days, quite a few women writers wrote about Professor Charles Kao in their newspaper columns. Although these writers were impressed with Kao’s scientific achievements, their articles focussed more on Kao’s life history, and especially on the loving care he had been receiving from his wife since being struck by Alzheimer’s disease.  Two examples from Apple Daily (Oct 12):

高錕的牛奶

2009年10月12日

高錕跟其他諾獎得主不一樣,他們鑽研多年,多麼高興接到那通在凌晨時分從瑞典皇家學院打來、將人從睡夢中驚醒的長途電話。代高錕接電話的,是與他同行五十年照顧得無微不至的太太,她即時把消息告訴被吵醒的高錕,但早上過後,他已經忘記了半夜這通消息。高錕太太黃美芸說,她認識的以前那個高錕,已經走了。
人走了,茶未涼,高錕笑得比任何稚兒都要燦爛。 76歲的老人,還童像自己的孫子。人生是一台奇幻大戲,一輩子未曾停息過的科研專才,到這一刻,終於替腦袋掛起謝幕退役牌,將物理數據往身後一甩,咧嘴一笑,回歸孩童簡單的歡樂,這是多麼大的福氣啊。高錕教授校長已經走了,留下來是一個喜洋洋乖乖聽話的小高錕,對得獎,直覺反應,開心純真,沒過份謙虛,沒過度自信,就那麼溫和地笑着。這段新聞圖片,讓人看了又看,平凡人能做光纖之父那個高錕嗎?不太可能,能做這個時候的高錕也不賴了,身邊滿滿的愛,生活豐足,善解人意的老伴化身溫柔比大地的母親,綿綿的關愛,每天都是難能可貴的還童微妙體驗。來去匆匆,人生的光纖中,風雲高速幻變,但願能走到那一天,關掉網絡,放緩腳步,對老伴說,牛奶太多了,我喝不完它,用來調拿鐵咖啡行嗎? 
(陳也)
 
他忘了……
2009年10月12日
在我們享受着他無私發明的時候,高錕卻已然忘記他生命中曾經舉足輕重的事業,忘記了光纖,忘記了自己是光纖之父。他完成了他的使命,然後,悄然「引退」,退出這個物質、紛雜的世界。現在,他活在他自己的世界裏,一心一意享受與老妻共渡的每一刻平凡瞬間,那些過去日子裏他未曾有時間去享受的好時光:一起散步、打網球,帶着天真的笑容向她展示洗乾淨的手掌,細細體味她對他的好……現在,他的世界裏只有她了,世界那麼大,但是,卻與他無關,他理解的諾貝爾獎所代表的榮耀,想必亦與一眾凡世俗人不同。更何況,他本來就是個淡泊名利的學者。
儘管,在聽着高錕太太遺憾地說「那個人已經不在了……」時淚珠打了幾個滾,仍然奪眶而出,內心深處,我還是固執地認為,對高錕來說,患上家族遺傳的老年癡呆症,可能是他不能回避的宿命。有一些人,是上天甄選的使者,來到這個世界,就是為了讓人類感受天使發放的榮光和溫暖。功成了,就得身退。
他一無所有、一無所知地來,然後,學習、工作,在過程中榮譽加身。最後,隨着小腦的萎縮,一點點遺忘,忘記自己,忘記工作,忘記榮譽和成就的世俗意義,終有一天,記憶庫存越來越少,如初來人間……
某一天,他會忘記這個世界,但,這個世界永遠不可能忘記他…… 
(高慧然)

Kao_Wong

Just to add a point to the conversation on the humanistic aspect of Kao’s life, we have to note that not all patients of Alzheimer’s disease are that ‘childlike’ and ‘lovely’. Some of them could be quite difficult to ‘deal with’. In that regard, I think Kao is still blessed. If Alzheimer’s disease is unavoidable, at least he is a happy Alzheimer’s patient. He is blessed because he has a wife who still loves him unconditionally. And he fully deserves this bliss, because he has all the while been a selfless scientist. Yes, it is regrettable that now the Prize means little to him. But if we know enough about the many inevitable disappointments of life, we can only feel happy for him.

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One thought on “Blessed are the selfless!

  1. Bernice

    After reading your article, I would really like to share the open letter written by Kao and his wife with you.

    I am deeply touched by the last few lines of the letter:

    “Thank you for all your good wishes and congratulations. Now you know who is responsible for the fiber optical cables that enables all the excessive information, both true and false, good and bad, that circulate on the internet.”

    I am touched because he’s not only proud of his own invention/discovery but also willing to take the responsibility for the drawbacks of the fiber optical cables,though, he shouldn’t need to do so…He’s really a role model to everyone. =)

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