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The 1st Runner Up of English Section

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The 1st Runner Up of English Section

Senior Division

Name of Winner

: Kwan Wing Yan

Name of School

: Carmel Divine Grace Foundation Secondary School

Title of Book Read

: For One More Day


: Mitch Albom


: Sphere

What does one day mean to you? Another boring experience at school? Annoying chores at home? Or a fun party with friends? To Charles “Chick” Benetto, it means so much more. Ten years earlier, on the day of his mother’s funeral, his life was inexorably bent downwards. Eight years later, on the day of his attempted suicide, his life was saved.

Once a promising young baseball athlete, Chick was offered a baseball scholarship which paid half his university tuition fee. When he was twenty three, he even made it to the World Series. However, the successes in Chick’s sports career did not last long. Like most athletes, Chick was very determined to defy the aging process. He struggled on when he should have quit. Not long after the birth of his only daughter, Maria, Chick finally gave up on baseball and began working as a salesperson in a company.

Life became disappointing to Chick. Nonetheless, his love for his mother as well as his wife, and his even more intense love for Maria, sustained him a purpose to live and do “the stupid job”, as he dubbed it.

Until one of them forever left Chick and would never return. On the day of his mother’s funeral, the realization struck him hard. Tormented by grief, Chick resolved into an absolute alcoholic. He lost almost all his savings in a financial investment and got fired from his occupation.
By that time, his wife grew tired of Chick’s misery and left him with Maria. Had Chick’s mother been alive, she might have found a way to stop him from wasting on himself, thus saving their marriage.
In fact, what bothered Chick during the years was “how he was not there by her bedside when she died”. Rather than staying at her house with his wife and Maria as scheduled, Chick flew to the other side of town for the Old Timers game, all in the name of pleasing his father. As much as Chick would have hated to admit it, he was indeed a little boy at heart, craving for his father’s love. Since his parents’ divorce, Chick has continued to play baseball as he knew his father had a passion for the sport.
Silently yet painfully, Chick endured the guilt he felt towards his mother and the pain of losing his own family. To make matters worse, his father was nonchalant about what his son had sacrificed for him. When he saw there was no hope in Chick to play baseball again after the Old Timers game, he simply faded out of his son’s life for the second time, as effortly as he did after the divorce.

Strange as it sounds, all these did not hurt Chick as much as his absence from Maris’s wedding did. After reading the brief letter and two photographs of Maria with her new husband, Chick discovered he was not even invited to her wedding and he was merely being notified.

Feeling shut out of his only daughter’s life, Chick decided to kill himself in his hometown. He figured he would not be missed.
On his drive to Pepperville Beach, he got so drunk that he crashed his car into a truck. He barely survived the collision, yet he did not know at the time. His spirit staggered to his destination, and he tried to commit suicide by jumping off a water tower, but failed. Against all odds, he met his dead mother.
It was that one more day spent with his lost mother which saved Chick. It allowed him to eat and talk to her as though she had never died. Moreover, his dead mother took him to visits with two old ladies and his father’s second wife whom he had never thought existed. From the visits, he found out more about her mother: how loving and caring she had been towards others, how she had labored at random people’s houses to support her children and why she and his father had split up.
Without a doubt, their last visit with an Italian woman meant the most to Chick. When he was young, whenever he saw an opportunity to open up with his parents, he seized it and asked, “What happened between you two?” All he got for an answer was “It didn’t work out between us. You wouldn’t understand.” During the visit, though, he met the very woman who drove his parents apart, and the family secret was eventually revealed.
After that one more day Chick wanted so badly with his dead mother, he set out to settle things right again with the people he loved. He and his ex-wife, Catherine, made their peace and spoke regularly, while he and his only daughter, Maria, reestablished a relationship by having Saturday morning “donut runs”. Unfortunately, Chick died from a sudden stroke five years after his drastic change for the better.

As the reader who could not stop turning the pages of this book, like Chick said, “You can find something truly important in an ordinary minute”, I found the ordinary day Chick spent with his mom magical. The language employed by Mitch Albom in depicting the story was simple, with uncomplex vocabularys and minimal figure of speec . The simplicity drew me feel closer to Chick while I was reading, and it made his experience genuine to me. For instance, when Chick and his mom ate breakfast on that day, Albom put into words the heartwarming feeling everyone encounters when they taste the homemade food prepared by their mothers. “And can I be honest? It was as delicious as it was familiar. I don’t know what it is about food your mother makes for you, especially when it’s something that anyone can make—pancakes, meat loaf, tuna salad—but it carries a certain taste of memory.” Apart from the closeness I could easily draw from the first-person writing perspective, the emotions Chick felt along the journey were totally relatable to me. I understood his feelings, including his love for his mother, his devastation when life did not turn out the way he had planned, his heartbreak when his own family fell apart, and years later, when he realized he was banished from the wedding of his only daughter.

Furthermore, Albom played on the fantasy everyone shared—meeting somebody you love dearly from the dead— which only enhanced the enchantment of the story. It was mesmerizing to read how Chick got his day back to make up for what he had lost due to his mother’s death. If we were granted one more day with a lost parent, I believe we would yearn for a day just like Chick’s: to make good with the dead parent, ravel the family secrets and seek forgiveness.
Being such an enjoyable book, Chick’s story flows through me. From his life-changing experience, I see what it takes to make up a family. In today’s society, many broken marriages are caused by a person wanting two families at the same time. Naturally, people are greedy and want more of what they consider as good. Nevertheless, Chick’s mother, Pauline “Posey’ Benetto, defined “a family” best: “You have one family. For good or bad. You can’t trade them in. You can’t lie to them. You can’t run two at once, substituting back and forth.” Thus, we should treasure the one family we belong to, and remain faithful to them no matter what. Thinking about walking away, then starting a new life with a new family is too selfish, and it will only result in a shattered relationship, a divorce. Worse still, the children in the family have to live with the heartache of losing one parent, even if they do not even know what is going on between the grown-ups.
Having defined “a family” best, Posey was also a successful mother. She toiled for years to support her two children. Parents love their children. They hold their darlings up safely, above their swirling waters. We might never know what they have endured or sacrificed for us, and we might treat them unkindly, in a way we otherwise would not if we knew. In the case of Chick, it was not until that one more day he spent with his mother that he found out how she sank so low as being someone else’s housekeeper to support the family after the divorce. Therefore, we should be respectful towards our parents and be nice to them. They protect us by bearing all the hardships in life so that we can grow up happily. We should remember that “behind all our stories are always our parents’ stories, because theirs are where ours begin”.

If there is one word to sum up the whole book, it is “predonare”. Since we love people, we forgive them for making mistakes. On the day Posey died, Chick “made the wrong choice”. He chose to attend the baseball game to impress his father, even though his mother had wanted him to stay. In return, he got complete forgiveness from Posey, who said, “A child never has to choose.” His mother forgave him as she tried to understand Chick’s longing for his father’s love. She tried to understand because she loved him. Apparently, understanding is the key to forgiveness and an action of love. Sometimes, we hurt our parents the way we hurt. We prefer hurting them back to understanding them, as if by reflex. What is the point in being so unforgiving? The ache we suffer from our parents will not go away when we avenge, but understanding will open up our hearts. Hence, we can see things from their points of view, and learn to let go of unpleasant memories, to forgive. Forgiveness dissolves the hurt and whatever negative feelings we have in our hearts.

Aside from being forgiving towards the ones we love, being forgiving towards ourselves is equally vital. It saddens me deeply to read about people killing themselves on the newspaper. If only they knew how precious life is. No problems in life are too big to be resolved, and death is definitely not a solution. Once we accept the fact that everyone has their own difficulties, we have to forgive ourselves for being unable to overcome these adversities. Only then can we see the many ways to solve our problems, such as seeking help from others.

In spite of being a book with a fascinating plot and meaningful messages to be conveyed to readers, there is still room for improvement regarding perspectives. Iy only Mitch Albom could create an even more enjoyable story! First of all, the tale could be told from both Chick’s and Roberta’s perspectives. As Chick’s sister, I only knew Roberta from Chick’s remembrance of her. While reading, I was hoping to read her side of the story: how she coped with the sudden divorce of her parents and how she thought of Chick, so I was disappointed to find that Roberta is just a minor character in the book. In addition, since Chick craved for the love of his father, I would like to know more about him. If his life after the divorce was included in the Epilogue, it would answer my many questions whilst reading, for instance, “Why did he suddenly reappear at Chick’s college baseball game after an eight-year absence? How did he know where it was held?” When the questions were answered, the read would be all the more delightful.

All in all, For One More Day is an inspiring and touching book. With its one hundred and ninety-seven pages, it reminds every reader of the true meaning of family, the unconditional love parents have for their children as well as the essence of forgiveness.

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