(last edited on April 29, 2014 at 1:29 am)
I was reading Evelyn Rodriguez’s Crossroad Dispatches this morning, which has a retrospective post about her Dad. Which got me thinking about my Dad, who’s in Taiwan and probably having an ordinary weekend. In Taiwan, Father’s Day falls on August 8…I’m told this is because the words for August and 8 together sound like “Ba Ba”, which is one way of saying father in Mandarin. I have no idea if this is really true, but it makes it easy to remember what day it falls on.
Anyway, Dad’s an amazing dude. I’ve become more and more aware of this as I slide out of my mid-30s and start seeing my childhood from his perspective. I didn’t understand it when I was younger, but neither did I totally get what his youth experience was like: losing his parents as a young teenager and having to support his sister and two brothers, acquiring an education in post-WWII Taiwan, making it to the United States to study in the 50s, raising two spoiled kids and having to haul them back to Taiwan to rebuild a seminary from less than zero. As I grow older, the more I am impressed, and inspired, by his example. If I have learned I can do anything, it’s because I’ve seen Dad do it, even though I didn’t really get it until now.
Up until my 30s, I thought of Dad as being a rather serious and stern individual, mistaking (perhaps like many people) his strong internal discipline and sense of ethics for, well, not being very much fun. In recent years I’ve had the opportunity to talk with Dad on a more personal level, and have learned more about his attitudes toward life, administration, duty, and achievement. He’s a humble man philosophically, but he’s also a highly capable and intelligent man who has learned to harness his gifts within an organizational context. That’s something I’ve never figured out, being too irked by dogma to stick around, rubbing people the wrong way sometimes, etc. Clearly, I still have a lot to learn from Dad.
But back to that serious thing…I was looking through some old photos today, and looked for the candid ones to dispell that myth:
- The one at the top is taken sometime in the early-to-mid 1980s I think, in his office at the seminary. I can remember the way that office smelled (like books and drying ink). When I would visit it I felt like I was intruding on a very serious workplace, so this picture is a revelation. He’s cracking up and laughing…awesome!
The second photo is probably from 1969 or 1970, at Medford Lakes in New Jersey. Was it our godparents parent’s log house? He’s hamming it up (I think) for the camera, playing some kind of single-stringed chinese instrument. I remember it used to lurk in a closet, next to his violin, but haven’t seen it in years. Young father, newly ordained minister I think, before he started his Ph.D. work.
The third photo is at the house in Perrineville, New Jersey. I’m guessing it must be 1974 or 1975. He’s barbecueing what looks like chicken wings on that charcoal grill we had. I think I used to ask him if I could light the fire, and he probably always said no. We would set up on tables in the front lawn and eat with our relatives, the Lohs, who lived in Cranbury (according to my Sis, who remembers all). Simpler times!
p>Happy Father’s Day, Dad! Love ya!