THE VIRUS AND OUR LEGACY by Phil Chun – May 31, 2020

The Virus and Our Legacy 

I am a volunteer at Cupertino Senior Center teaching Conversational English to an audience of foreign students. The theme is in the area of conversation, on the virtues of being good to others and developing friendships. Billy and I met a few years back. His very being has always been focused on developing friendships. I admire his on-going love for his fellow man/woman, perhaps that is why we headed off so well. Billy asked me to write a short essay on friendship but I’m going to deviate to Virus and Our Legacy as it seems more natural at this time to think about how Covid-19 is affecting us.

Our lives are defined by time, whether we are gifted with a long or short one, we need to better exploit it. Many of the excuses we’ve all heard in the past have been, I’m too busy or I don’t have the time. Personally I try not to prescribe to those thoughts, rather it is a matter of prioritizing within a busy schedule. Friendshipology as Billy would say, is a state of mind and a way of life. Like any habit, it comes naturally and instinctively. My hope in the aftermath of this virus, is that it will bring all of us and the world closer together.  

The Covid 19 Pandemic has been devastating, particularly to those who have lost a love one or knowing of someone who has. In times of social distancing, shelter in place, work from home, face masks, no dining out, no social gatherings, etc., our way of life literally changed over night. Since mid-March, my classes have been canceled but I still have phone calls with a number of my students. Inevitably, our conversations always come around to how boring and confined life has become. I tell them, circumstances are what they are and we have to set different priorities. Yes, things have changed and we can change as well. We can bring added light to those we love. 

Most of my students are grandparents living with their son’s and daughter’s families. Everyone is home pretty much all day long because of the recent mandate. I tell them, instead of focusing on the negatives of the shelter in place, prioritize your thoughts on the grandchildren and the family unit.  There are no excuses now that we’re too busy or we don’t have time. This is a opportunity for the grandkids to learn more about us as grandparents and our parents – our history. Often times, they think we are just old people who are there to care and cook for them. We have a rich and colorful history to tell; in hopes of someday, they’ll be sharing our story to their very own. With only 1 hour a week, we can help keep us alive for generations to come. Legacy becomes tradition. 

“Every day is unique and special”.


Billy’s notes: I was invited to talk to Phil’s “Senior” students couple of years ago. I noticed that the students held very high respect for Phil as he had well prepared and useful advice for them. As a group, the students interacted very warmly. It seemed more like a friendly social club to me. After the talk, I joined many of them to lunch at a nearby Chinese restaurant – sharing food together and sharing laughs.