It does not take the approach of Father’s Day for me to remember my childhood with my Dad. I often wonder if he had a clear intent of how to raise me and my 3 siblings. He loved us by treating us as his equals and addressed me and my sister as Misses, the way one addresses a young woman, from the time we could converse with him. He goes through life with ardor and at full speed and expected us to follow his lead even in our little footsteps because for him, there was no other way to live. His many passions or rather his passionate way of conducting the business of life have shown us how far one can go along and yet not neglect the people we love – This mode of operation does not work with some people but it seems to work well for his children.
At least I felt there was enough attention paid to me because he would be there when I desperately needed to do something, be somewhere or was sick. It was the delicate balance of guarding and letting go of a young mind that came out to be just right for me. I had time to dream and I dreamt a lot about design, beauty and the like. School for me was a place to go see friends and as long as I did not fail, my dad would leave me to my passable grades. Once I asked him if he ever worried about our performance at school and his answer was: “As long as you don’t have a failing grade, you are learning something and I trust that you are smart enough to absorb what you will need to achieve the things you are meant to.” Wow, that was a lot on a teen’s shoulders but I was glad to be my own manager of my education. He was a great storyteller which was a big parenting asset. His stories were always real life stories for those were the only kind he loved to tell and to embellish with his own dramatizations. I remember being quite enthralled and horrified at the same time when I heard about Van Gogh cutting off his ear. Another favorite of his was Xiang Yu (of Farewell My Concubine) offering his head to the ferryman to save his loyal horse at the end of his battle days. Out of his many stories, I grew up believing in honor, loyalty and dignity among most men if not all.
My aunt from Paris found some old photos of me in her closet and sent them to me. It turned out My Dad was the photographer and had sent them to my Mom when she took a long vacation in Paris. I now have memories of my childhood the way one sees a 1950’s Parisian post card though I am quite sure I wasn’t born then. I also took it that he meant to show love without so many words and very little gesture on his part.
All in all, when you grew up with an artist, idealistic and renaissance man, you could only stand back and learn by osmosis because his love is not of a specific nature. He is at once more encompassing and of the vaguest type, leaving much room to interpretation. I chose to recognize his gentleness toward me and receive his greatest gift to me: respect for who I am and complete freedom to choose my path.