I’ve already mentioned in other blogs that, before Jenn discovered my father’s place in Chinese history, I knew him only as a broken man, depressed and distant. It not only saddened me throughout my childhood, I believed he didn’t love me. What I finally understood with this new information was that it had nothing to do with me. He had lost his meaning in life when he couldn’t continue pursuing creating art and architecture in the United States.
With that understanding, I began remembering my father and some of the happier times I had with him. When we lived in New York City, I remember my father putting me on his shoulders so that I could see the floats in the Macy Thanksgiving Day parades every year. I remember he declared Sunday family day. We either went to Chinatown to eat authentic Chinese food, Central Park to ride on the carousel, or to a movie. The carousel became my favorite place in the Park. And, he actually sat through Cinderella, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty with me.
He also tried to teach me to draw and paint, as well as Chinese calligraphy – but to no avail. I didn’t – and still don’t – have his talent for art. I remember him teaching me about the history of Chinese art, but I was too young to be interested.
When we moved to the chicken farm in New Jersey, he taught me to drive a tractor and, then, to drive a car when I was 11 years old. He hunted lot in China, so he taught me how to shoot a rifle so that we could eliminate the rats that would sneak in to eat our chickens at night.
What I realize now is that, as depressed and as broken as he was most of the time, it must have been very difficult for him to pull himself out of his despair to provide those father-daughter times for me. What I took for granted then, I now understand now how much he did love me.
I love you BaBa, forgive me for not understanding sooner.
Gayook (Liou) Wong