CHINA HERITAGE QUARTERLY China Heritage Project, The Australian National University ISSN 1833-8461
No. 25, March 2011


Yang Xianyi: In Tribute | China Heritage Quarterly

Zhao Heng

On the First Anniversary of Uncle Xianyi's Death

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today, far away in Beijing, I join you in the commemoration of Yang Xianyi.

One year ago, on 22 November, the last night of his life, I was with him at his bedside.

Half a year ago, still grieving, I started writing a book titled The Last Ten Years of Uncle Xianyi. The book is mostly based on my diaries, recollections and on-the-spot sketches. It's going to be published by Sanlian Joint Publishing Company.

Uncle Xianyi went through the last ten years of his life without the company of Auntie Gladys, and with the struggle against cancer. We can never imagine the pain he suffered. But he never complained, or demanded. To us, he is still a kind and generous, witty and humorous old man. Six years ago, he had to accept the harsh reality that he could no longer walk unaided. Every time I visited him, I would find him sitting in the same armchair with the same posture. He would welcome you with his narrow but bright eyes, and his generous heart full of love and kindness.

I was fortunate to have witnessed numerous people—friends, relatives or total strangers—coming to visit him and being charmed and inspired by his personality. His extraordinary life, his contributions to China and to the world, and his great integrity often put us to shame.

We would never know what went through the mind of this dear old man at the end of his life, though his courageous voice was once heard all over the world. He lost his voice towards the end of his life, but he managed to use his smile to convey his thankfulness to every visitor almost till the end.

It is in Uncle Xianyi's smile that I've found much strength and inspiration during the last ten years of his life.

May he rest peacefully in Heaven.

Thank you all.

16 November 2010