Time Honored Occupation

March 1st, 2012 § Leave a Comment

My Dad died on July 25th, 1985. I was fifteen years old. When he died, I hardly knew him. My older brother, himself just a year senior to me, sped us through the early morning darkness in our beat up, dark blue Ford Thunderbird. Neither one of us said a word. We both knew this was coming. When we walked into that room on the 5th floor of Queen of Angels Hospital, that room to which we’d grown so accustomed, I hardly felt anything. I looked over at my Mom and mostly felt sorry for her. The look on her face – she felt sorry for us.

I didn’t much like my Dad. He was your classic patriarchal Korean Father. Silent and slightly annoyed. Much of our interactions involved his barks and grunts, and our quick acquiescence. More than any other feeling, I remember the feeling of discomfort when he entered the room. And I remember thinking when he came alive in a gathering of his friends, once the Johnny Walker had strode around the table a few times, “Why doesn’t he laugh like that when he is with us?”

On August 1st, 1999, I became a father. Like sons have done throughout time, I followed in the footsteps of my Father into that most common, most important, most demanding of occupations. Fatherhood is no joke. Having walked in his shoes my gaze back to him has markedly softened. How easy it is to throw the tomato from the audience! Flawed, the judgements of an adolescent. The memories selective. My feelings were real, genuine … not always fair.

I’ve made peace with my Dad. Now when I think of him, it is with fondness. I regret that we never got a chance to talk as men, as fathers. I’m filled with warm sadness at never having walked down a fairway with him on a crisp, summer morning. I wish I could turn to him and say, “Thanks Dad. You did alright.”

Maybe one day I will.


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