June 12, 2017

When I was 19, my 70-year-old dad passed on from this world. But since I believe that dads never really die, my relationship with him keeps growing. And we’re finally in a very good place.

This is huge. After all, I spent decades wrapped in outrage, venting about the tyrant who scarred me forever. Now, I look at my faded baby photos, noticing how affectionately he held me. And, I wonder — if  my dad was alive today, would real conversation finally be possible?

Dads never really die

Healing frees me 

I’m the recovering daughter of control freak Chinese immigrants. The more at peace I am with me, the more peaceful I feel about them. And the more I can accept myself, the more I can accept my difficult father.

He was a strict, Chinatown businessman with a bad temper. He was furious that I didn’t go pre-med or become an accountant.

After he died, we found his love letters to another woman. He also drank too much and was addicted to prescription meds.

My father made some serious, terrible mistakes. But I wish I could look him in the eye today, one adult to another. I want him to know that I view him with compassion, tenderness and even respect.

I really get it now: My dad did the best he could with what he had. For that, he has my unconditional love.  Because of that love, I appreciate the ways he was special.

I’m glad that dads never really die

The poor Chinese guy from Vietnam made an immigrant’s remarkable journey to America. He came to the U.S. in the 1940s, a time when Chinese immigrants were small in number and treated like super-crap.

Yet, my dad hung on and eventually sent for my mother. Then in the 1960s, he helped his siblings and their families escape the Vietnam War, bringing them here as refugees.

I also admire my father for a few other things.

There was his artistic passion for calligraphy — I loved watching him hold a Chinese writing brush and twirl it down a page, marking the paper with beautiful, inky black Chinese words.

On even the coldest winter mornings, he’d crack open a window at dawn. Breathing deeply and quietly, he would practice his meditative tai qi exercises.

And oh, how that man could eat and feast! Living in Chinatown gave us many fabulous food memories. We loved dining out.

Making choices

How wonderful now, that dads never really die. My father and I can keep on bonding. I can call on strength instead of playing the victim. I can appreciate who he was, while making very different choices than what he wanted for me.

So, Happy Father’s Day, Dad. I love you. xo  :)

And what about you? For years, I’ve been writing about my relationship with dad, which helped me to work things out. Share how you’re doing and get more love for yourself.