My birthday falls on or around Father’s Day every year so it can be difficult celebrating life when you’re also thinking about loss. I’ve lived more years without him than with him in this realm.
All my memories of us are paused at age 15:
He walking me home from school and my friend calling him handsome;
He clutching my mom’s hands over my heart as I snuggled between them at night;
He buying me a wholesale box of candies of my choosing at Jetro;
He holding court at our family banquets in Chinatown;
He singing and sounding like a banshee;
He in the driver’s seat of our Oldsmobile (he was not a good driver);
He that had a mole on his cheek with a hair that I’d always want to pull out;
He ordering two hotdogs for us after my doctor’s appointments that’d we’d eat on the M15;
He accompanying me to visit private schools with his spotty English;
He taking time off to attend my elementary school graduation;
He proud of the new house he saved and worked so hard for;
He in his pajamas which would become his uniform after his stroke;
He without use of half his body;
He walking laps in the house as part of his physical therapy;
He on a low-sodium diet, but devouring an entire tray of a cake for which I accidentally used salt instead of sugar;
He, my father, my caretaker, the strongest man I knew, needing me to do his laundry, or empty his bed pan, or refill his water cup or check his blood pressure or hold his arm as he started walking outside again;
He the last day I saw him when we got into another fight about who-knows-what and I didn’t kiss him goodbye because I was so angry;
He in the hospital, silent, unmoving, cold, gone;
He resting peacefully as guest after guest at the funeral reminded me of what a good man he was.
He in pictures and dreams.
He whom I wish were by my side to experience every major life milestone.
He I am.