Well, we've been back from Hong Kong for four days now, but are still trying to shake the effects of our half-way-around- the world travel. What a trip. We'll never forget it!. And what a guy Jackie Chan is.
My son, Dayne, the recipient of a Make A Wish Foundation grant, is still thinking of how he can get back to Hong Kong and live with Jackie.
I am still shaking my head in wonderment, over how suddenly this came about and the whirlwind tour in which it all happened.
It seems like just a month or so ago Dayne, who suffers from a form of brittle bone disease called Osteogenesis Imperfecta (his bones fracture easily and he's been completely supported, head to toe, with steel rods surgically placed inside those bones) asked to meet Jackie Chan. It's actually been almost a year since Dayne made the wish. But Jackie Chan agreed, a passport was obtained for Dayne, celebrations were planned in preparation for the the trip and it all finally happened. Where was I, ask myself? But, of course I was there. And how fortunate I was. It was about Dayne. But, his mother, sister and I were also the recipients of a grand and glorious visit with one of the most talented and gracious celebrities of motion pictures.
Our first scheduled meeting with Jackie Chan, a recording session while he voiced a tract for the new motion Picture Kung Fu Panda Part Two, fell through. Uh-oh, we thought, what if? But left it at that. So, we spent the next two days shopping, as you might expect in probably the biggest shopping market in the world. We bumped and paced our way through crowds all over that wonderfully friendly city. Friendly, except for the men, who always go first. First in line, first through a door. My thoughts quickly raced back to my childhood, to a thump on my head and to what I've tried to teach Dayne, women and seniors go first. It's a matter of respect. But, we laughed and bumped along the rough handicapped unfriendly sidewalks of that towering city, amid the warnings to my daughter Brittani, who is also Dayne's Special Needs Nurse, "You're buying too much. You'll never get it home." But, it was for her daughters, my granddaughters. And, it's hard not to buy, especially in a place like Hong Kong.
It was now coming on Thursday, they day of our next scheduled visit with Jackie Chan. Certainly nothing would get in the way of this one. This non-stop , sleepless flight, half way round the world would not be futile, would it? Well, it wasn't. It proved to be all we had hoped and then some.
There was a car at our hotel at 4 o'clock. The idea was to take us to Jackie's new movie complex and office, where he was interviewing and shooting pictures for an article in an upcoming issue of Forbes Magazine. Then, he would spend some one- on-one time with us, on a walking tour of some of his most prized collections. Then, if you can imagine, take us to dinner.
Jackie Chan is a collector. He'll be the first to tell you, "I never throw anything away. I didn't have much as a child. So, everything is treasure." We peered through antiques Jackie has collected from most of the Chinese dynasties. Pieces, he says, which will end up in his museum in Shanghai.
We were in awe of the costumes, saved, from his many movies, and, privileged to preview still photos, taken in preparation for his next motion picture, "Operation Condor", which will be shot on location in Hong Kong, Paris, Beijing and Taiwan. A remake of the old Condor series. And, all the while, I noticed one thing, Jackie hardly took his eyes off Dayne. This was Dayne's day. Jackie Chan knew this and took the time to make it a day my son will never forget. With his two dogs, J.J. and Jonsey tagging along, Jackie even blew off a few stunts, much like the out takes from his many movies, falling a few times, just so we wouldn't get bored. He had us in stitches. We were truly charmed and captivated.
Jackie Chan's studio and office complex, sits in the new territories of Hong Kong, high in the hills and somewhat removed from the bustling city. From here, is and unobstructed view of the ocean, with its own, seemingly private cove and harbor. Only a few other homes dot the landscape. As we a boarded our transportation, we wondered if we would ever have the opportunity of seeing this magnificent view again.
Soon, however, our thoughts turned to dinner. Jackie said he was buying and we headed to one of his favorite restaurants, "Lei Garden," complete with private dining room and authentic Chinese cuisine. In attendance were a dozen or so of Jackie's friends. He says, he always takes them to dinner before he leaves town for extended periods and included us in that elite group.
Dinner, itself, was something else. Dishes, never before tasted by most of us westerners. Very good! Just different.
Jackie made sure he had a seat at each of four tables. At our table, it was right beside Dayne. And, while I devoured a fish-rice soup, Dayne did not. Enter Jackie Chan, who explained to Dayne what it was and scarfed it down himself. Then, there was the Shrimp Fried Rice. Again, not to Dayne's particular liking, though he did manage a few bites, with chopsticks. Once again Jackie was seated beside him. And, much like a father would do, he recited what it was like when he was growing up in Hong Kong in a boarding school, and how he had to eat every piece of rice in the bowl, whether too much or too little, every piece, or he was sternly disciplined. But only in Jackie Chan style, could we find such humor in his childhood. And, following another quick monologue, he cleaned up Dayne's bowl of rice, in seconds, as my son rolled with laughter.
This is pretty much how the evening proceeded. With one last exception, Dayne's request from Jackie Chan was for Jackie to be his teacher in Martial Arts. The look on Jackie Chan's face was easily read, "Mmmm, the second lesson is going to be difficult to give in person", but quickly moved into action and taught Dayne a new move that he could practice and bring home to show his friends. Jackie stood behind Dayne and his wheelchair, took hold of his hands and helped Dayne perfect the move. He sat down, leaned over to Dayne and in his Chinese accent, said, "There! I am your teacher." Not one of us wanted it to end. But, of course, it did. And, this one ended with an exchange of gifts. Dayne is the proud owner of several Jackie Chan autographs, on shirts, flips-slops, towels, hats, even chopsticks (used by Jackie Chan) and a couple of Jackie's first movies. Dayne presented Jackie with an official Real Salt Lake jersey, since the actor is a huge soccer fan, signed by Dayne and a Paul Milsap autographed Jazz hat, along with autographed pictures of the entire Jazz team, at least as it is rostered right now.
But, the shining moment, as emotional as it became, was worth every sleepless minute on the airplane, every ache and pain, along with every other moment of unrest, as Jackie Chan moved in to kiss the girls, hug them and wish them well. He then hugged me, that solid man. I wished him well and promised to keep an eye on the rest of his career, which won't be hard to do. Then, it was Dayne's turn to say farewell. A hug that kind of embarrassed my son, as tears rolled down his red cheeks. But, a hug he is still feeling and talking about today. And, a promise from Jackie, that he would continue his worldwide fight against hunger and disease, no matter the cost.
I've never met an actor quite like Jackie Chan. Nor a man quite like Jackie Chan. I only hope Dayne, someday, can hook up with this talented and gifted person again. That's his dream. His motivation now. And, Dayne's happiness is mine. In the meantime, there are still the movies. I will watch them all again. And anxiously await the new ones, watching and feeling now, however, from a different perspective.
Good luck, Jackie. Thanks for caring. Keep up the good work. Keep us entertained. You're always in our thoughts.
For Dayne, Debi and Brittani, I'm Dick Nourse