It was 1994 and I’m hanging out at my grandfather’s small seafood store where the stench was particularly strong being a hot summer day. I’m 10 years old, sitting on a minivan bench seat watching Fresh Prince of Belair on a black and white tv on WPIX Channel 11. After the end of the episode I find tears rolling down my face. I didn’t understand why. I wiped my face and didn’t think anything of it. Nearly 5 years later I watched that same episode and scene again, tears rolled down and I finally understood.
When I was younger, I wished my dad was like everyone else’s. He was the only living parent I had. But I was never short of parental care and attention thanks to my grandparents and tremendous amount of aunts and uncles. But deep down, I knew it wasn’t the same kind of feeling you would get from a father and mother. I saw it at school, with my friends and relatives. What I had was kinda like how Will interacts with Uncle Phil and Aunt Vivian. There’s a connection but it’s not the same.
My dad is a bit of a wild card I still haven’t figured out. He’s not even your typical Chinese father who is stern and militant. His identity to his social circle is a business man who typically had some medical ailment and riddled with bad luck when it came to his wives. Being a father was a badge he never earned in his quest of life. Each period we were reunited; we were driven apart fairly quickly. I was quietly mad at him for many reasons up until my late 20’s. He would make spurts of effort but never consistent. Then I just really stopped putting myself out there for him to acknowledge. Usually in front of his friends and my own, I paint him as the hero of all of my tales. I did it for him and partially for myself because it’s fun to believe your dad is cooler than the next person’s. When the reality is he carries this false weight that he doesn’t owe anything to anyone, and the universe is indebted to him because life kicked his ass for most of his youth.
Regardless, the situation is what it is and I am moderately trying to make the best of it. This year my dad tried helping me manage some of my stresses at the cost of him taking on some, which was a bit strange. Not in a life changing manner but clearly something or someone struck a chord for him to help me out. I know this pattern all too well. Let’s see how long this attention will last. He’s usually pretty low effort when it comes to me or my sister. He will call but ask him to do anything more than that is completely unreasonable in his eyes. Which is shit effort in my opinion. Don’t misunderstand, I still care for the guy. Just not in the manner I did for my grandparents and other relatives. He knows this too.
When I began making money, I used that money to improve the lives of everyone around me. I make these fun posts on Facebook and Instagram that I’m being a good son taking care of my father. The truth is he has no problem taking care of himself, especially financially. Everything I did for my dad wasn’t because I owed it to him. I did it because I don’t ever want to be indebted to him. I use my earnings to show him I did this on my own; not to win his attention. Showing I have developed the backbone like he and my grandfather developed. If you aww’d at my Facebook posts why I keep changing up the cars for my dad, I’m sorry for lying and disappointing you. I did it for me and as a smoke show for his friends so he would gain face.
While writing this, I didn’t think it would head in this direction. It feels so serious. On a lighter note, my dad is on a strict diet for his health ailments. Everyone’s trying to enforce the health thing but I’m slipping him “bad food”
His favorite food is fried chicken. This is my dad inspecting the KFC menu at a rest stop but not allowed to buy anything with my step mother patrolling the area. It was like watching a child looking through the window of a toy store.