Sunday, June 20, 2004

Father's Day

In our house, celebrating holidays and birthdays wasn't such a big deal. Usually the intended would receive a couple of cards and gifts, and have their favorite meal cooked that night. My dad was one of those people who always told my brother and I not to buy him any gifts because he had what he needed or wanted. I always wondered if that was true. In any case, through the years, he received his share of "Father's Day" gifts such as shirts, coffee cups, fishing supplies, etc. The last time I went home, I saw one of the coffee cups we had given him-- a white cup with the word "dad" written with flowers. I remembered he used that cup all the time in the morning and to see it on the shelf unused was a reminder that he wasn't around anymore.

My dad and I didn't have the type of relationship that I think I would have liked growing up. He was the typical Japanese father who ruled the household and believed that everyone had their place--sons carried on the family name while daughters were just there. When I turned 25 I decided to leave the comforts of Hawaii and move to the mainland, something I had dreamed about for a long time. My dad did not support me mostly because I was female and females weren't supposed to do those things. I didn't care mostly because my dad and I never saw eye-to-eye anyways.

But the move turned out to be the best thing for both of us. I learned that my dad was the way he was because of his background and the way he was brought up; that's something you can't really fault someone nor change but you have to accept. When I accepted my dad for who he was, our relationship changed significantly. I learned more about him than I ever did when we lived in the same house. On the other hand, my dad found out his daughter wasn't just an underfoot; she could be independent and live on her own.

The best conversation I had with my dad happened a few years before he passed away. On a trip here with his eldest brother, my dad and I walked up and down Fremont Street spending time together. It was the first time he had ever mentioned my brother and I being adopted. I never knew how he felt about the whole thing but in that one moment I discovered that my dad probably never thought of us in that manner; we were his children. He told me that if either my brother or I ever wanted to find our biological parents, he and my mom would help us. To see my dad be so unselfish made me realize that he was always the dad I wanted him to be. I just never knew it until that very moment. Happy Father's Day.