Who is my father?
Updated: Jun 18, 2019
My father was born November 27, 1934 in Anseong, Gyeonggi-do, 50 miles south of Seoul, South Korea. He had five sisters and three brothers.
He was born during the time when Japan had occupied Korea for 30 years from 1910 - 1945. My father remembers going to school and being forbidden to speak his native Korean language. He still remembers those days like it was yesterday and never forget the atrocities Koreans had to suffer during the occupation.
In 1945, when my father was just 11 years old, Japan's occupation ended and Korea became its own independent country once again. By this time, my grandmother had given birth to nine children and was pregnant with her tenth child. During labor, she suffered
complications and died. She was only 40 years old. Even though the baby girl was born healthy, without her mother's proper nourishment, she also died just few weeks later. At the tender of age 11, my father and his eight other siblings became motherless.
After losing his wife, my grandfather did everything he could to raise all nine children on his own to his best ability with the help of his older daughters. At the time, my father had four older sisters who helped take care of the younger siblings. After the war, the family struggled in poverty and had barely enough things to eat.
From a very young age, it was obvious that my father was born gifted. He was a bright
young boy who loved going to school. He was also a natural athlete who excelled in sports particularly gymnastics and had high hopes of becoming a professional gymnast someday. When Korean war broke out in 1950, his dream was shattered. For the next three years, his family of ten dealt with famine as they tried to survive the war moving from one place to another. When the war ended in 1953, all of the family members had survived except for my uncle. My uncle who was few years older than my father had vanished during the war and was never found. My father has fond memories of his older brother who was kind and also scholastically gifted.
At the age of 27, my father married my mother and became a devoted husband and a doting father. When we were in Korea, he worked as a customs house agent for the government to support the family while my mother worked as a stayed-at-home mom. My father didn't make a lot of money working for the government but we got by. Even though he worked full-time outside the home, he was always there for the family when we needed him. He was a family man who worked hard to be the best father he could be.
After we moved to the United States in 1976, my father together with my mother made a living sewing garments for a large garment industries. It was a hard physical labor that required long working hours. Despite many years of hardship, his devotion to the family never ceased. His family was his whole life and he did everything he could so his children can have better things in life.
When I was a young girl, I wasn't very close to my dad. Honestly, I didn't think too highly
of him. He wasn't a doctor or a lawyer and didn't work in one of those big fancy buildings for corporate companies making a lot of money. He was and still is a modest and conservative man who enjoys simple things in life. He's extremely frugal which used to drive the family crazy especially my mother. I remember growing up in Texas where it used to get hot and humid in the summer. To conserve and save money, my father would set the thermostat to 78 degree Celsius and would not allow us to set it any lower. I remember some of us would get up in the middle of the night to lower the thermostat. Few hours later, my father would get up to change the temperature again. This kind of back and forth happened pretty frequently and I still remember to this day. I look back at those days now and I smile knowing that I'm my father's daughter. Now, I do that! I hope my dad is proud :)
Growing up, I never realized how talented my dad was. My father is not only a natural athlete but also a great singer and loves to sing karaoke. He also has an amazing ability to memorize and remember things. Even at 84 years of age, He can recall all the family member's (including in-laws and grand kids) birthdays to checking account and social security numbers. He still has better memory than I do, and I'm always in awe by all his amazing abilities.
Although he was only able to go far as graduating from high school because he couldn't afford to go to college, he also has a remarkable penmanship and writing skills. When my parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary by renewing their vows seven years ago, my father wrote a very touching letter to my mother. That very letter hangs on the wall at my parent's house today as a reminder of my father's love for my mother.
For the last twenty years, when my mother was dealing with many health issues, my father was always by her side doing everything he could to take care of her. Even to this day, he still does all the house cleaning including the dishes. Their house is immaculate thanks to my dad. My dad still washes his car by hand weekly and tends to his garden on a daily basis. On top of that, he plays ping-pong with my mother 6 days a week and swims daily.
He's been very fortunate to have a good health. My dad is one of those people who hardly ever gets sick, not even a cold. I know, my mom gets really jealous sometimes. The only surgery he has ever gotten was a cataract surgery when he was 71 years old and still reads without reading glasses! No joke! Thanks to his good health, my parents are still very independent, and I feel extremely lucky to have such a wonderful and healthy dad.
My dad was not only a great father with multiple talents, but also a loving and supportive husband who stood by my mother for the last 57 years of their life together. They had their ups and downs over the years, but through it all, they've gotten closer than ever. Now, they're like two peas in a pod and have the kind of loving relationship anybody would be envious of.
I have never seen any man more dedicated to his family than my father. He's still my mother's rock and my role model. Even though he has never held a fancy occupation and is annoyingly frugal, he's my hero, and I could've never asked for a better father.
I know I wasn't very grateful growing up and never told you what a great dad you always were, but you are one of the most dedicated and courageous person I know. You're a loving father who did everything you could to give us a better life. Despite all the hardship you went through trying to provide for the family in a new country with no money was the bravest thing anybody could ever do. It's the kind of courage that can only come from a loving parent, and I'm so thankful to have you as my dad. You were always there for me even at my worst days and loved me unconditionally. You have taught me to see the beauty in life as they are and to appreciate the simple things in life. Without you, I wouldn't be who I am today. Thank you for being such a wonderful dad. Happy Father's day!
Your loving daughter,