my dad was brought up by single mom, post-korean war. he was too bright, i think, and too sensitive to grow straight as a child - bit like the way that vines grow, they are resilient and they grab onto things, wrapping around, rather than shoot straight into the sky.
he's demanding and curious. he can be quite adamant and inflexible. as a vine plant, one would not let its end go so easily from (whatever it may be climbing on), and the plants, though easy to cut with a blade, they are so difficult to rip with bare hands.
the vines go into places and holds on. dad never had an easy thought. everything had been thought through, and the decisions, they add up into this whole being of who he is. i have never seen him make sweeping decisions or change opinions easily. in fact, we are bit cookie cutters- stubborn, questioning and often challenging. there has been days where after a silly debate (on political debates and such), that we simply did not talk a word to one another. poor mother!
he brought us to see the outdoors as a child, almost every weekend. this is a feat for a korean dad, as they work so hard and long hours, committing to long commute and super competitive environment. but there he was, schlapping three kids and rest of fam into a car on stupid oclock on sunday morning (they only had sundays off, if that), showing us mountains and sea, making us walk the whole way (even when someone's crying).
i always walked by him in the trails. why? simply because he said walking on the front of the pack is easier. you can make decisions if needs be without consulting everyone. you can take rest to recover when slower ones catch up. you get better view rather than someone's bum. you can look back and evaluate the status of the rest of the group- and if you see someone suffer, do something. do set a break. take their pack. go walk on the back for a bit with them. share your water. and you will have time to go around that corner that isnt part of the path, to take a look, without losing your own trail.
when you walk down the hill, if you think it's bit loose and you worry about falling, just run down. keep your feet light and pull your knees up. touch the ground, dont land, till youve got down to the end of the segment. dont fear. what is the worst thing that can happen? skinned knee? they will heal.
in 1992, when we moved to canada, mom dad opened up a dry cleaner. they worked mad hours. 5am start (especially in summer time), till 9-10pm. while in high school, my job was to show up at the store right after school and work till the shop shut, almost every day. i couldnt say no because seeing someone work so hard and not sharing a bit of their work would be inhumane. i took summer courses to not feel guilty about working in the shop- haha, i did go back to it after school, day after day though.
it did drive me crazy however, to see that their long hours and hard life is something they were creating (partially). whenever we hired someone, it never lasted too long. or they would be marginalized- because mom and dad could not stand the quality of the work they were producing. i tried to tell them just let small details go once in awhile. all the detail works you do (like wrapping all silver shell buttons with double-aluminum foils so that they wont break during the cleaning), ends up becoming mountains of small tasks. this is why we never get home before 10pm. checking every buttons on men's shirt (this is the cheapest item on the list, as they are machine-done; loss-leader) and sewing replacements on (like those extra buttons on cuffs that no one uses), this is nuts. particularly so, because those works were my job.
he would say: get it done.
we have not spent much time together. with works, they were worn. then i left home. we have not seen one another much as parent-child till now. co-workers, consultants, yes.
but finally theyve sold the store last fall. and next wk, they come back from visiting south korea. may be things will change.
sure thing is that he does get quoted awful lot by me. to thank him to plant those vine seeds in my mind- hmm, i dont know if i want to. being vine-like mind is difficult. nothing is straight. things always need to be looked carefully. one becomes resilient and demanding. surviving.
perhaps the best current conclusion i can make about dad is... he's real and he's always been. and i wish him less demanding days and a chance to prosper, to look straight and go into next phase of his life with ease.
it will be interesting to catch up next wk. happy father's day!