Two roads diverged for my dad in Japan the year of 1985 when his contract as the branch manager in Osaka, Japan ended. The company loved him so much, they wanted to extend his stay another 4 years as the Osaka branch manager and offered him quite a raise. My dad had a decision to make, to give his family a life of luxury and stability that we've always known in a country that he knew was dead spiritually and eventually would take a toll on us, or to move us to the United States. This seem like a no brainer, I mean, doesn't every one pursue the dream of living in the United States for a better life? better opportunities, white picketed fences, streets paved with gold and money falling into your lap as long as you work hard and honest? He also didn't want to return to Korea because of the arduous education system and the competitive nature of just standing out as a student. Everyone goes to after school study sessions, everyone plays music, takes art lessons and when you're in high school, you take three meals because students are in school all day long.
His decisions were based solely on the well being of his family. He finally quit the job he had with Hanjin Shipping company and relocated us to the States. In the beginning of our life in the States, my mom and dad try to make end meet by working at McDonalds washing dishes and mopping the floor, while my mom skipped lunch so that she would make that extra 4.25. My dad worked very hard to give us a good life, trying to give us any and everything we ever would wanted. There were times of short comings and when ends didn't always meet, there were times when his business ventures failed, he encountered malicious creatures who were out to prey on the innocent like my mom and dad. Living in America was not easy for my parents and although they worked more than they should have to give us a life of spiritual freedom, educational opportunity and a life of blessing, my father in the end still has that same smile at the age of 64.
Hardships my father faced as an immigrant aren't unique to him, but it was difficult to give up a way of living you've already achieved, your education, you're pride. When world was too harsh, and he was drowning in the life he was living, he did regress into a man that could not control his temper, words or emotions and the dad I use to know had disappeared for a season. My dad who calls me "Audrey Hepburn," prays for Hans to be like Abraham and delights in his sons entrepreneurial spirit had not died, and when he realized he had become what he hates, he worked hard to return again. Whether he's writing his kids a funny email, telling us stories at dinner or dropping a piece of chocolate in my soy milk, we know exactly the kind of boy and young man he was before we were ever in the picture. I'm proud and a little bit relieved that my father is still that young man of 31 when he married my mom. Laughter seeping out from between his teeth, wonder pouring out from his far away sparkling eyes, and opportunity, capability, freedom in the tilt of his frame. I'm thankful that his kids didn't cramp his mojo or hardships cripple his valiant soul, that he remained who he was no matter the testing fire of life.
On white horse, in Amman Jordon
1969 High school graduation (far right)
Happy Father's day dad! I love you!