I HAVE always wondered what an ideal father-daughter relationship is. I have also wondered how much impact does it actually has on my future?
The best memory I have of my dad was this one Sunday, when my mom and sisters were in an out-of-the-country vacation. I think I was turning 7 then. I was dressed myself in my usual tomboyish jeans and my favorite white shirt with a blue print. We had a stroll at The Manila Hotel. I don’t remember us eating there. We just walked around the hotel. Out of all the moments I had with my dad, for some reason, this was the most precious.
I have never been very close to my dad. That position had long been staked out by my eldest sister and my youngest sister. My personal memories with my dad have him always going out of his way to bring home my favorite food or my biggest collector toy car. Up to this day, my dad still brings me my favorite hexagon, almond pastry when he visits downtown. But in the times I had a chance to be really with him, I always remember picking up a genuine life lesson along the way.
Since we were all girls, many expected my dad to be more protective. He did set a strict curfew and was strict about us all attending mass. But beyond that, I valued his brand of “women empowerment”. I learned how to drive at 14.
I got my license at 18. In between, I was allowed to practice driving with my friends or the driver. In the rare cases I bumped a car, he would just instruct me how to deal with it, and discuss what I could have done so as to prevent such mishaps in the future. When I wanted to go to a Taiwan scouting jamboree trip at 14, I was allowed to go. He even guided us on how to enjoy and handle liquor.
His primary rule: “Only drink in places or occasions where you have real friends with you.” He even preferred us to drink with our friends in our house because he thought this would be safer. I know his vision for us was to build our lives without excuses. That even though we weren’t boys, “his girls” could do anything boys can.
With boys, my dad’s rule ever since was, “Bring them to the house.” Play cards, eat snacks and be comfortable in introducing “boy” friends to the family. When I was in college, I remember asking my dad if it was okay for me to marry someone with a different financial status. I expected him to say no, but he said that it my decision to make. If I’d able to live the life the person can provide, then this was most important thing. He said what was important to him was that, I’d marry someone who knew how to work hard because family money comes and goes.
I admire my dad’s convictions and how he employs his long-term and unpopular approach. At work, he always takes the harder role of pointing out system improvements. At home, for as long as I can remember, he would irk us by not responding to us if we didn’t speak to him in the Fukien language. And with friendships, he would always tell me to be a good “rainy day” friend, that even if you don’t see your friends during the good times, it’s most important for me to be there for them in their time of need. My dad’s long-standing friendships have served as an inspiration for me in how I value my friendships today.
I’ve realized my vision for simple happiness with my family comes from my dad. All he wanted was a happy family to come home to. He’s also a great cook. I remember all of our congee Sunday brunches, when he would cook kamote (sweet potato) congee and my favorite condiment of ground pork with black beans.
Most of all, I value my father for being a “true” person. He never claimed to be perfect. In fact, he’s bold enough to apologize, even to us, his children. When I go on business trips, I would occasionally get texts of encouragement and affection from my dad.
Do I idolize my dad? No, but it doesn’t matter because he never told me to do so. He just devoted his life wanting us to be happy.
Today, I’m truly grateful for how God has led me to this path. I thank God to have given me a CEO and a father who believes in his children and is truly forward. I love my dad for listening and adjusting to the present situation. And even when we argue, we both know love is never diminished.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad. I hope to continue your legacy of meaningful work and love for children. I hope my kids can learn as much from you as Joan and I constantly do. And we can all be happy that you’re able to reach your ultimate goal of having a happy “redefined” family life.