June 20, 2010, - 2:04 pm
Today, Father’s Day, I visited my late father’s grave. Even though he is no longer here, I am one of the lucky ones. My father was ever present in my life throughout his. And even though he is gone, his influence on me lives on. (Read my eulogy and tribute to him. He was an amazing and unique person.)
My Dad (Center) Receives Award From
Michigan Lions Club for Providing Free Eye Care to the Poor, Blind
Me and My Dad
My father loved me and my siblings, he cared, and he taught us right and wrong. My father instilled in us the importance of patriotism and love for America. He taught us the courage of our convictions and the importance of being a good dad. Even though he was a medical doctor, he was not wealthy. He sacrificed making a lot of money to be ever involved in our lives. Woven into his great sense of humor and occasional pranks he played on us, my dad taught us to be proud Jews and never take crap from anyone.
I once had a boss who told me, “principle is expensive,” and discouraged me from having any. But it fell on deaf ears. My father taught us that principle was the most valuable commodity, the most worthy treasure we could possess. As kids, he took us to protests he organized–for example, when the Detroit Jewish community invited anti-Semite and Israel-hater James Zogby to the Jewish Book Fair to promote his hateful book. Later on, my Dad helped me spy on Islamic charities and organizations in town and tips he gave to federal law enforcement led to raids, arrests, and shut-downs of funding, including the freezing of bank accounts that funded HAMAS terrorist attacks through the Holy Land Foundation.
My father always told me about how, as an Army doctor in induction centers during Vietnam, he was offered money by various parents to rule their kids ineligible. But he never took these bribes. He was drafted and served and was ready to serve on the front lines. He felt everyone should serve America and do their duty when called. My father made sure we knew the story when his friend, Dr. Isaac Poltinnikov, an eye doctor, was fired from his job by the Soviet Union, for the “crime” of trying to emigrate from Soviet anti-Semitism and persecution to a life in Israel. Since Soviet parasitism laws forbade donations to the doctor, my father made up elaborate problems of the eye and sent them to Dr. Poltinnikov for his fictional consultations, so that Dr. Poltinnikov would survive. But he also showed us the tragedy, when Dr. Poltinnikov finally succeeded in leaving for Israel, without his wife and daughter, who respectively starved to death and committed suicide, because they could no longer take the KGB spying and oppression.
And there are so many such things my father showed me, taught me, instilled in me–many of them outlined in the eulogy and tribute I gave to my father at his funeral and on this site.
But, like I said, I am one of the lucky ones. Sadly, most people will never have a father like my dad. Even sadder, today, at least fifty percent of American kids will grow up without a father at home. And even sadder yet, the American conservative movement has adopted as its new spokesmodels a woman and her daughter who’ve glamorized single motherhood. Yup, the Palins. Bristol Palin–no different than single mothers with names like Lakisha, but for the bank account and gushing from the conservative movement–posed in glamorous “tea party” photos in fashion mag Harper’s Bazaar, along with her illegitimate son who has little contact with his father. Because that truly is, unfortunately, high fashion, these days. On “Good Morning America,” this week, she was promoting something called “co-parenting,” a nice liberal word for “Daddy doesn’t live here.” Yup, welcome to the new “conservative family values.” Same as the liberal ones.
Who needs Bin Laden and Islamic terrorism when we are destroying our country from within, creating so many future problems by bringing kids into this world without fathers?
And, then, there are the kids who don’t know their father truly cared. They don’t know because he’s been vilified by mom, or he just isn’t present and they aren’t told the real reason why. Such is the plot of one of my favorite movies, “Departures (Okuribito).” And such was the reality for Ray M. Wong. Wong’s Must-Read “In Death, Assumptions About Dad Melt Away,” from Friday’s USA Today, will bring tears to your eyes. Even though, unlike his, my dad was always in my life, it brought tears to mine:
In Death, Assumptions About Dad Melt Away
By Ray M. Wong
I didn’t think my father cared about me. I left Hong Kong at age 5, when my mother divorced my father in 1968. My father never contacted me. I lived in America. He lived a world away. Then in 1996, at age 33, I returned with my mom to Hong Kong and met my father. I spoke only English. He spoke only Cantonese. My mother needed to serve as interpreter.
After I married my wife, Quyen, in 1998, I visited Hong Kong again to introduce her to my father. When Quyen and I had kids, I heard through my mom that he wanted to see our children. So I invited him to the U.S., told him I would pay for his plane ticket and that he could stay with us. But I never received a response. I didn’t think he cared. So I went about my life.
In March, my father suffered a stroke and died. It was my family’s obligation to go to Hong Kong to take part in the funeral. I was his only child; my kids were his only grandchildren. Once there, my father’s younger brother brought my father’s possessions to me. From a faded, leather carrying bag, my uncle took out a small, tarnished brass picture frame holding a photo of Quyen and me at our wedding reception. My uncle told me that my father kept the picture on his nightstand beside his bed. It was his favorite. Then my uncle handed me a worn, crusty plain brown packaging envelope, which contained photographs and cards my mom had sent my father throughout the years.
There were pictures of me in my college cap and gown, Quyen and me at a formal dinner while dating, the two of us beaming at our wedding reception, our son Kevin on his third birthday, a 5-month-old Kristie cradled in my left arm on the couch. I found Christmas cards from my mother nestled between the photos, and a neatly folded paper with a hand-drawn heart and a message of love from Kristie.
I leafed through more pictures and discovered a group shot of my father, mother and me next to a number of relatives and friends on a pier in Hong Kong. I must’ve been 4 at the time. I came upon another photo of me in elementary school, maybe 8 years old and wearing a gaudy blue sweater. My father had kept every item relating to me and my family.
My uncle said my father never traveled. In his 76 years of life, my father had never been on an airplane.
For most of my life, I didn’t think my father cared about me. As I looked upon the pictures of my family with tears in my eyes, I knew I was wrong.
To those fathers out there who are in their kids’ lives or making every effort to be but are shut out, I wish you a Happy Father’s Day. And I thank you for contributing to stability and values in America’s kids and our country’s future. You deserve our respect and admiration. And you don’t get nearly enough of it.
I miss you, Dad.
Tags: Bristol Palin, Dad, Father's Day, Happy Father's Day, my father, Palins, Ray M. Wong