Continuing the Thanksgiving theme to highlight the people in my life I am thankful for.
In the previous post, I talked about my mother. A lot of things I said about my mother is also true for my father. So I am equally thankful for my father as well as my mother.
Dad was born in 1933, the youngest of six children. His father passed away when he was just a baby. When he was about 14 years old, he followed his older brothers’ suit and left his hometown to go to Shanghai to find a better life. In 1951, per friend’s referral, he went to Suzhou and worked for a small family textile business. In the 1950s, small family businesses were merged to form community and then state-owned factories. Dad worked in the textile factory making towels for over 40 years till his retirement in 1991.
Dad had only one or two years of elementary level education. He didn’t have the opportunity to receive a good education. He could read newspapers, but he hardly read. Yet, he is one of the smartest person I know.
Dad is the Mr. Handyman at work and at home. He was the best Handyman I know.
Dad was a very skilled carpenter. He made all the wood furniture we used – tables, chairs, beds, dressers, stands, etc. The pieces were not only functional, but also very artistically decorated with his wood carvings. During the Sunday weekend, he often went to friends’ houses to help others make furniture for special occasions such as weddings.
In addition to wood work, Dad was also skilled in plumbing and electric work. He could do and fix anything. He could make new keys, repair appliances, bikes, shoes, pots, whatever problem we had, he had a solution for it. So he was not only the Mr. Handyman for our own family, our relatives and neighbors often came to him for help.
At 80 years old, Dad is doing very well. He does grocery shopping, cooking, and laundry at home, since my mom’s health is failing due to her diabetes. He never did those chores before retirement, now he is an expert. Since he learned to cook, he doesn’t like my mom’s cooking any more. Mom happily gave up her cooking duty.
Dad has an incredible memory which unfortunately didn’t pass on to me. Even now in his 80’s, he can still memorize many phone numbers. My mom keeps a neat phone directory of families, relatives and friends. But often times, Dad can tell her the number she needs faster than she can look it up in the directory. I am not talking about a few phone numbers, but at least several dozens. It’s amazing for me, because I can only remember my own phone numbers.
Dad credits his good health to the exercises he did over the years. For many years, he played basketball with co-workers. He ran and walked to work every day. He was always active, enjoyed doing things and fixing things around the house and for others.
Dad’s biggest weakness was his hot temperament. He could get upset and angry in a second. My brother who was three years older and more stubborn than I, suffered some physical and emotional abuse from my Dad. It was not unusual at that time, but would be considered abuse based on today’s standard in this country.
Although I don’t remember my Dad ever beat me physically or abused me verbally, I do remember my fear when he had his rage episodes which happened often when he was younger.
I didn’t like the poverty at home. And I didn’t like my Dad’s hot temperament and his being so strict with us. I wanted to go to college far away and leave home. I think that was my big motivation to study hard at school so I could go to college.
I did went to college far away in Beijing. The train ride to Beijing was over 20 hours. I went even further away than I could imagine, to Germany and then to the US. My teenage wish came true.
Nowadays, I don’t hold a grudge against my Dad, neither does my brother. As we got older, we had more understanding and appreciation for our parents for what they went through in their lives, for the conditions and limitations they had. They did what they could for us. With aging, Dad also lost his hot temper. He is much patient now.
I have often felt guilty for being so far away from my parents. I can’t help take care of them now they are getting old and need help. Fortunately, my brother lives with our parents. He is very good to them.
I thank God for my parents, for their good health and for their love for me.