I’ve never said “I love you” to my dad. And I can’t recall if he’s said it to me. Stating nor showing affection isn’t really our thang in our family. We recently attended my grandmother’s funeral, and as we walked behind the hearse to the church, I saw my parents holding hands. I can’t recall whether or not I’ve seen them do this before. It was adorable.
My dad and I only started awkwardly hugging but only when saying hello and goodbye – I now live on the opposite side of the world from him, and the last time I saw him was two years ago. So although it’s awkward, it’s genuine.
When I was a child I adored my dad – I always tried to make him proud. But probably not so much when I smeared peanut butter all over his guitar or when I scribbled all over his textbooks when he was studying for his 2nd Bachelor’s degree. I wanted him to wake me up every day at sunrise so that I can say goodbye to him as he drove to work.
Then the terrible teens hit and we were at war. And they were epic battles.
Funny thing is, my mother always said that we were so much alike. At the time, I loathed that statement, but recalling those times, it’s completely true. Unlike my mom (and brother), who would walk away from confrontation, my dad and I were there at the front lines, ready to attack and defend ourselves. And our temperamental mood swings, oh dear. Stay clear from us when the wrath awakens from its slumber.
And when I rebelled against my parents and ran away from home, I learned he did the exact same thing. Our lives were in parallel, and it must’ve been difficult for my dad to see life repeat itself. We clashed and repelled like negative ions but eventually it was an eye-opener for us.
My dad was 26 when he had me, and now that I’m in my 30s, I’ve grown to appreciate his hard work and the struggles he went through (as well as my mom’s). I found a picture of him with his friends and family on the day he immigrated to the US. Was he anticipating his first job washing dishes even though he had a college degree? Or joining the US Air Force? Or experiencing snowy winter for the first time? Or having an obnoxious daughter? Life indeed throws curves balls but I think after nearly 30 years as an engineer, 34 years of marriage, and raising two awesome children, it’s been a successful life so far.
And our lives are in parallel once again now that I myself immigrated to the UK, still trying to carve my way into this hard world.
I understand now that everything my parents did for my brother and me came from a good place. I may not agree with some of the decisions made but I respect them. Most recently, my parents and I were in the Philippines, and on our last stop in Manila, I wanted to explore the city as I was getting bored of taking taxis to shopping malls. However, my dad refused to let me wander on my own. (As my mom reiterated numerous times, people will drug and kidnap you. Eye roll.) Believing it was irrational paranoia, I felt my rebellious 16 year old self trying its damnedest to burst its way out into the open, but I suppressed it, remained calm then chuckled to myself. (But not without revealing that as a proud world traveller, I’ve been to pretty dangerous places around the world, much to my terrified mother’s surprise. So nyah!) Even though my dad’s mood was on high alert status, as a compromise, he came along with me. And as he was showing me around the city, I thought, “we’ve come a long way”. I don’t need him to say those three words – his actions prove it.
Happy Father’s Day, Daddy.