This is how I heard the story, walking in the mist by the lake late in the winter afternoon.
My father is a painter. He paints pictures in traditional Chinese style, to make his living, for many years now. He always loved to paint and to draw pictures.
When my father was a young man he went to university to study how to make pictures in traditional Chinese style. But this was in the time when in China there was a Revolution and many people were sent away from their homes and from schools and universities and made to work. They had to work on the land sometimes or in very hard places, sometimes in the very hot parts of the country, on farms and in little villages.
My father was sent away from university and he was sent to work in a mine, far away in the north of China. It was very hard work. Every day he had to dig the coal, far underground, with his helmet and torch and his pickaxe. But he had many friends there although the work was very hard, and for an artist it was very different from his old life.
Even when he was working in the mine my father would draw every day. His boss at the mine knew this and had seen his drawings. And one day he heard there was a competition for artists, in one of the big cities. He sent one of my father’s drawings and it was accepted for the competition. So his boss said you must go and sent him to the city for the competition. He would have to be away from his work in the mine for one week, but the manager said he should go.
When he was away at the painting competition there was a terrible accident in the mine. There was an explosion and the tunnels of the mine collapsed. And when my father got back to the north of China, to the mine, he found that all his friends and colleagues from the mine were dead.
My father often thought of this, even after many years and after the Revolution was finished and he could go back and finish his studies at university. And he said that he would always remember and be thankful to God for saving him, because if he had not been sent to the painting competition he would have been dead too. And then I would not have been here. And my father always said we should remember and be thankful to God. And always I remember.