By Assunta Ng
Northwest Asian Weekly
On this coming Father’s Day, I suddenly realized I have no memories of Father’s Day even though I had two fathers. How ironic!
Now that you’re both gone from this world, I wonder what it would have been like if I could have just one Father’s Day experience with either my biological dad or stepdad.
So why didn’t you spend Father’s Day with me?
Both of you abandoned me when I was a child. That torturing question has opened up old wounds.
Dad Wai, since you and mom divorced before I turned 6, I did not hear from you or see you until I was in my teens. Dad Eric, you and mom got married, but you didn’t really want me at first, because of the financial burden. I could tell that you had a change of heart when I was in high school. That’s when we started to have longer conversations, and I didn’t have to avoid you and hide in my room. You were impressed that I passed the Hong Kong public examination (for high school seniors) with flying colors. Since then, you accepted me as your daughter. You traveled for business most of the time, and mom would join you sometimes, in Japan and Thailand for months.
Mom did a great job in playing the dual role of both parents when I was growing up. I couldn’t imagine what it was like to have a dad loving me, raising me, nurturing me, playing with me, and protecting me like I observed my friends’ fathers.
I am forever grateful that you agreed to support me financially to study in the United States, after much begging.
By the twist of fate, we were never together on any Father’s Day! But I did go back to Hong Kong for your birthdays and paid for the dinners.
Dad Wai, mother wanted us to sever ties by lying to me at one point that you were dead. Mom got upset every time I went to visit you. When I left for college in the United States, you were both in Hong Kong. Although I tried to visit Hong Kong as much as I could, it was never on Father’s Day. But then, if I had visited you on Father’s Day, would you have made time for me?
You both had children in your other marriages. I was just one of the daughters. I didn’t think I mattered. Years later, I found out that you, Dad Wai, told relatives how proud you were of me and raved that I was your most capable daughter, but lamented that you were unable to get close to me.
Two years before you died, I visited your home. There on your bed, I saw the Father’s Day card and envelope with money I sent long ago. Amazingly, you still remembered my birthday at the age of 90.
And you, Dad Eric, thank you for treating me as your real daughter as you grew older. You trusted me more than your own son. I played a big role at your funeral service, which I never expected.
Research has found that boys, more than girls, have a hard time in adjusting to not having their father around, and society has to pay a high price for their rebellious behaviors. I never knew what it would be like to have a father growing up. I can’t describe what I have missed. That void in my childhood can never be filled. Yet, I am not angry or bitter. My unhappy childhood has helped me to develop the ability to cope with adversity without blame. It’s not in my nature to blame. Nor do I give myself excuses for not working hard and giving up. I guess that’s the difference between the attitude of a survivor and victim.
Also, I strive for forgiveness rather than hate. I turned out to be a better person in understanding and accepting human flaws. What else can you ask for? And thanks to you, dads, I watched and gleaned meaningful lessons from the way you lived your lives.
To both of you in heaven, Happy Father’s Day!
Assunta Ng can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.