When I was younger, I never really gave much thought to being a dad. While I was a hopeless romantic, I also never really counted on getting married. I would say that I was too selfish for marriage.
My dad was born and raised in Thailand. It is pretty commonly understood that the Asian culture dictates that men do not show much emotion. I can only recall one time ever hearing my dad cry and that was from a distance while he was face down in his bed, so I am only assuming that he was crying.
I knew growing up that my dad loved me and I would come to understand as I matured that he did the best that he could. My parents divorced when I was around five years old and my dad got sole custody of me and my brother. He raised us with some support from other family members, but most of my memories are of my dad, my brother, and me. My dad would let us kiss him goodnight and we would give hugs good-bye, but I would not include my dad as a very emotional person. I know he has them, he’s human. But I mean to say that he never showed much.
There were moments when I would act out and push him to the brink. This young teenage punk was able to set off a normally peaceful man and bring on a new world of frustration and anger. This was rare and lasted during a very short stage in my life. I’m sure the fact that I went back and forth between my mom and dad during my pre-teen and teenage years didn’t make things any easier for anyone.
My dad was also never overly “manly” about things. I never had him in my face telling me that I needed to “man up!” or that I was pressured to do “manly” things like play football or be overtly aggressive to other citizens of my city. In Thailand, his family was very well off and he had a lot of opportunity and resources that others in his native country did not have. However, I am very familiar with stories of a few fights and confrontations. Muay Thai kickboxing was his sport of choice and he would never teach it to me on account of my temper.
Although my father is not very tall (I’m thinking he’s around 5’5”), I always remember him as fit. This meaning that I always felt like he could take care of himself if he ever found himself in a situation. My brother and I were convinced that our dad was either Sho Kosugi or at the very least Sho Kosugi’s stunt double. If our dad wore a ninja mask, he would look exactly like Sho Kosugi.
It’s all in the eyes! We never told anyone about this. We knew that when he went off to work during the day, he was really off shooting a movie. This is one of the many ridiculous things that my brother and I did as special things between us.
I would like to say that I started making things easier for my dad as I got older. I hate to admit it, but while I got older, I never really got wiser. But no matter what I did or put him through, my dad stuck by me and was always there for me. That’s one of the two main things that I admire about my dad. He is an insanely loyal man. When he is there for you, he is there for you. Through the years I can recall various friends that he had. Though I am not able to recall their names or many details about them, for some reason I remember that they enjoyed being around him.
With that being said, I think it was very clear that his two sons were his life. Dad never went out and partied with his friends until the wee hours of the night. He took his responsibilities very seriously and at the cost of his social life, he was always around for us. I know that he dated from time to time, but he wisely kept us separated from them. Had any of them worked out, I’m sure we would have met them and spent more time with them. I liked not having to dodge in and out of relationships with my dad’s girlfriends. Then again, my dad could’ve just been a player and was out hustling every night, I’m not sure. After all, he was a ninja for many years.
The other main thing that I admire about my dad is that he stepped up and took full custody of my brother and I in a time when that was pretty rare. There were other aspects that are unknown to me, but all I take away from the situation is that my dad took us and chose to raise us himself without a mom in the home. At a gut level, that gives him extra points in my book.
I believe that my dad did a great job of providing a solid home for me and my brother. We never went without. As a matter of fact, I was pretty much the most spoiled child I have ever known. One of my favorite tales is one where we were at a toy store and I couldn’t find something that I wanted to get. My dad was ready to leave and he told me it was time to go. He started walking towards the door and in a hasty attempt to get something, anything, because oh my gosh I have to stinking get something or else I will surely die, I grabbed a toy. I couldn’t recall what the toy was, but the issue was that I couldn’t leave the toy store empty-handed.
My dad was not a perfect parent. In fact, I think he hit more bumps and bruises because of how he was brought up. His family was affluent and he had nannies and so forth. His dad worked all the time and was not around much. Come to think of it, the only time I thought I heard my dad crying was when he got news that his father had passed away. I can only assume that my dad was not able to afford to fly back to Thailand for the funeral because it would be around another fifteen years before he would go back and be able to say his goodbyes to his father. As I am reading back over that last sentence, I wonder if there was more to my dad’s delay in getting back to Thailand.
This young eighteen year old Thai kid who didn’t speak a word of English wanted to study in America. His dad provides funds and sends his youngest to another country. I have no doubt that his dad had a plan for him when he sent him over, but I’m sure that meeting a young girl and starting a family was not part of that plan. I would imagine that there was probably some tension there with the path that my dad went down.
That could be why my dad was so understanding and stood by me through all my hi-jinks. As I’ve grown older and now have kids of my own, I am able to see me through my dad’s eyes. I guess that he made a commitment to himself that he would not let what happened between him and his father happen between me and him. Like all of us parents, my dad wasn’t perfect but I believe that he did the best that he could with what he knew.