Dad, I miss you
October 2 seemed a normal day. Around 8:30 PM Eastern time, right after dinner, I got a message from my brother, saying my dad was in critical condition. That short message changed my life forever.
I was baffled by the message: “What do you mean dad is in critical condition? I talked to dad about a week ago on the phone. He sounded just fine.”
It turned out, suddenly my dad got severe aneurysm. Two hours later, he passed away. He was 77 years old.
This post is dedicated to my beloved dad.
A couple of days later, I rushed to my parents’ place in China, after the 32-hour air and train rides. This familiar place seemed so strange and vacant without my dad around. Sitting on his chair and using his computer and WiFi, I just couldn’t believe he was gone. But he was.
A caring dad:
My dad was also my teacher. He taught me for 5 years during the primary school. At that time, I resented him being my teacher, as it was so awkward for me sitting in his classroom. My freedom was very limited in the school, because my dad was there.
My dad knew that, education was the only way for me and my brother to leave this remote village. As a result, school work was always the top priority in my family. I had to study very hard, and excel academically, no other choices.
My dad was always there for me and my brother. He taught me not only the school stuff, but also what he valued the most: honesty, and integrity.
The life in this village was very hard in 1960s and 1970s (It is still hard as of today). People’s incomes were very low, and food was scarce. But my parents did their best, borrowed money from friends, and sent me and my brother to high school, and later to college. My brother was the first person in this village who went to college. Two years later, I followed the suit.
To my dad, his proudest accomplishment was that, both of his kids graduated from college. On the other hand, my brother and I are living so far away from them. Their nest has been empty for over 37 years. It could be very challenging for my parents sometimes. But they handled gracefully.
A regular human being:
When I was very young, in my eyes, my dad was a hero. He overcame lots of life adversaries, loved our family, worked hard, and marched on no matter how hard life was. As a child, I thought my dad was always right.
After growing up, gradually I realized that, like any other human beings, my dad had flaws. He could be wrong, too, sometimes. Interestingly, I could see some of his flaws on me as well. Like father, like daughter, not only on appearance, but also on personality.
This similarity of personality was not a great thing, as it caused conflicts. I don’t remember how many times my dad and I were not on the same page. Sometimes we argued, and it hurts.
My dad was a heavy smoker all his life. As a result, he developed emphysema. This chronic condition affected his life quite a lot during the last 10-15 years. Many times, I encouraged, begged, and coerced him to quit smoking, as he coughed a lot. He tried halfheartedly several times, but never succeeded. Cigarette was my dad’s best friend for almost 60 years, till his last day.
In this poor village, most of the guys smoke. Every time when a male visitor walks into my parents’ house, the first thing we’re supposed to offer is cigarette, as a kind of courtesy. To me, it’s not courtesy, it’s assisted suicide in some sense. This is insane.
During my dad’s funeral, 75 cartons of cigarettes were either consumed or sent out as gifts. That is 750 boxes, and 15,000 cigarettes. I couldn’t understand this, and refuse to understand it.
I miss him:
No matter how many times we disagreed with each other, after all, he was my dad. He gave me the life, cared about me, raised me responsibly, provided me great education, and taught me values. We both were imperfect, but loved each other in our own flawed way.
Do I have any regrets? Absolutely.
In early 2016, I wrote an ebook “Dad’s Bicycle – Journey of a Chinese Family”. But I never mentioned about this book to my dad. Why? My dad might not agree 100% on what I said in this book. Any minor disagreement could lead to a big argument, which I tried to avoid. The purpose of the book was to show the love, caring, and sometimes difference in my family.
I’ll stay with my mom in China for a while, and make sure she gets adjusted to this new life. Life without my dad wouldn’t be easy, but we’ll manage to get through it. Time will heal slowly.
I believe my dad went to a better place, with no worries, no emphysema, and no suffering. I hope he is happier right now.
When my final day comes sometime in the future, I hope I could check out as quickly as my dad did: on the previous day, he was still working on the yard, biking around, and was relatively healthy. The next morning, he was gone. No dragging, no pain.
Dad, thank you very much for all the things you did for me. I love you, and miss you. I’ll see you in another 20-30 years.