Deng's grandkidslook back with joy

By Xin Dingding (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-02-13 06:52

Next Monday may be the 10th anniversary of Deng Xiaoping's death, but the late Chinese leader's grandchildren feel like he has never left their side.

"Every February 19, we scatter flower pedals in the garden to honor his memory," said Xiaodi, 22, Deng's youngest grandson, who is currently a university student.

Because Deng's ashes were scattered over the sea, the family has made it a tradition to memorialize the former leader in the garden. They also gather together to mark Deng's birthday on August 22.

Xiaodi and three of Deng's other grandchildren shared their recollections of their grandfather during an hour-long online chat with netizens on yesterday.

Deng was known to the world as the architect of China's reform and opening-up policies. But to his grandchildren, he was a kindly figure who wanted nothing more than to be an ordinary man and enjoy the pleasures of ordinary people.

"I never saw grandpa so happy as in the winter of 1989, when he retired from his post I remember he said over dinner that he could finally be an ordinary man," said Mianmian, 35, Deng's oldest granddaughter.

"He once visited a store in Shanghai to see how the country's stores had changed. He chose to visit a store just before it closed, when he expected few customers to be there. But in the end, he couldn't see anything except the crowds surrounding him," she said.

Deng was also a big soccer fan.

"I heard my mother say that grandpa once watched a soccer game at a stadium in 1974, when I was small. He loved watching live games," she said.

"But (his presence caused) many police to be dispatched to keep order. He thought it was a waste of both labor and money, so from then on he only watched games on TV."

These experiences kept Deng from enjoying many pleasures, including being able to visit his hometown Guang'an, Sichuan Province, in his later years.

Deng's grandchildren described a man with many interests.

He loved playing bridge and swimming. At night, he would read kungfu novels to relax.

"He read martial arts novels by Jin Yong and Gu Long, but he would always put his books down at a certain time to sleep. When I asked him the next day whether he remembered anything about the plot, he would say no. For him, they were about relaxation," she said.

Deng's granddaughter Mengmeng, 33, and grandson Yangyang, 28, joined Xiaodi and Mianmian during the chat session.

Mengmeng and Yangyang were studying abroad when Deng passed away. Mianmian and Xiaodi visited him every day, but were not there at the final moment.

Mianmian noted that Deng suffered from Parkinson's Disease, which made it difficult for him to breath.

"He always remained serene, and his kindly looks will always give me power," she said.

(China Daily 02/13/2007 page3)

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