I Was Blessed to Have My Dad

At my dad’s funeral, a little over two years from today, one of my uncles (my dad’s youngest brother) shared with the family a very, soul-touching story. When they were children, they lived in one foster home after another, and were often abused by their foster parents. One day, when their foster-father tried to beat my uncle, my dad grabbed a baseball bat, jumped in between my uncle and his foster-father and yelled, “Don’t you hurt my little brother!” My uncle said that he never forgot that day, and many other days that his older brother just blew him away. He added that even though my dad was a smaller than the average size kid, he was fearless. He always stood up for those who were bullied by others. I wrote a post a while back about my uncle’s story, as well as my dad’s challenging times, called, “Father’s Hardship.” I, too, shared a story with my family when my dad rescued a teenage boy from getting beat up by these other two teenage boys. I wrote a post about it when I first started journaling called, “Courage.”

Today marks the second year since my father passed away of a heart attack. I wrote a post almost two years ago called, “Death.” Since then, his death became a part of my healing process where I was able to reflect on our past relationship, gain insight into the perfect events that occurred that didn’t appear so perfect during hard times, and forgive…not only my father, but myself as well. I dedicate this post to my American father who adopted me when I was three years old (after marrying my Korean mother, his second marriage), raised me and loved me the best he knew how, and always cared for me throughout my adult years. He also loved his children (my brothers and sisters) from his first marriage (Sue, Stan Jr., and Ron) and from his third marriage (Sheila) very much, and often bragged about how great they are, and how grateful he was to have us.

I posted a final message on Facebook today for my American family members to read:

“I wanted to add one last thing before I leave fb. It’s been 2 years today since dad died, and I read some old emails again and thought about the good things he shared. Regardless of what anyone else thinks, I know my dad was the best dad he knew how to be under the circumstances. EVERYONE makes mistakes in life, hurts Nothers, and do things that don’t make us proud; however, just as the right toe would forgive the left toe for accidentally stubbing it (since they are ONE body, although separate), we, too, should eventually forgive unconditionally since we are all one.

When I was in junior high school, I replied to my dad that I never wanted to get married, and he said to me with a sad expression, “Bobbie, not all guys are like me.” A so-called “bad” father would not say something like that…I know, because when I met my bio father, he continuously bragged about how great he was. Note: I forgot to add on fb, but I’m mentioning here, that my bio father’s actions stemmed from fear of possibly being rejected by his long-lost daughter, not because he’s a bad person. Let’s cherish the good memories we have of dad. He often mentioned how much he loved his children (Sue, Stan Jr., me, and Sheila), and shared his good memories of us to include:

  • Sue being gentle, kind, caring, and always helping her mother
  • Stan Jr. having such a bright personality (often smiling, laughing and making jokes), a positive attitude and great people skills
  • Ron being big-hearted, tough, ambitious and smart
  • Sheila being very independent, smart, confident, and strong

The only time he bragged was when he bragged about his children. God bless his soul.”

I am grateful that I crossed paths with a loving soul, who, despite having been raised in foster homes by abusive parents, never chose to pass down the abuse to me. Of course, he disciplined me as a child and teenager, but there’s a big difference between discipline and abuse. Although my dad didn’t have an opportunity to be further educated after high school, he never used it as a crutch. He joined the military (Army to Air Force to a civilian working for the government) and excelled through his dedication, hard work, and resilience. Growing up, I often noticed that he self-educated himself by reading a lot of books, manuals, newspapers, and watching informative shows like “60 Minutes.” He managed to work his way up to a GS-13 (i.e., A General Schedule/GS is the predominant pay scale in the U.S. civil service, and a GS-13 is equivalent to a field grade officer, Lieutenant Colonel). He even did college work online and eventually earned a Bachelor’s degree in his fifties.

Since I was in elementary school, my dad often encouraged me to get good grades in school, and that if I got A’s and B’s, he would send me to college. Although he wasn’t able to fulfill that promise (hence, I had to drop out of the university I was accepted into when I was 18 years old) due to other more pressing financial obligations, I know that he would’ve sent me to college then if he had the means. Because when I was in my early twenties, he wanted to make up for his broken promise by inviting me to temporarily live with him and his new family in Okinawa, and paying for a couple semesters of college that was offered on base. I appreciated his effort to make things right.

When I was in 3rd or 4th grade, I was playing in my room by myself, and recall my dad coming home from his usual business trip with a set of fairy tale books. I remember his smile as he slowly opened my door, and me being really excited to see my gift. I ended up reading the books over and over again.

When I was in 5th or 6th grade, I recall sitting in my room listening to my Walkman. My dad walked in and asked me what I was listening to. I told him that it was my favorite song called, “When Doves Cry” by Prince, and he wanted to hear it. I gave him my headphones, and he listened for a while, and then said that it sounded pretty cool. Such a small gesture meant a lot to me because no one had ever shown any interest in the type of music I enjoyed until then. Whenever I hear that song, it reminds me of my dad. Other songs that remind me of my dad includes:

  • “The Green Green Grass of Home” by Claude “Curly” Putman. I recall my dad singing this song like it was yesterday, because my Korean family members and I often listened to the tape recording that they had made at a family gathering, right before my parents and I moved to the States for the first time together (when I was three years old).  My dad was a pretty good singer.
  • “Ghostbusters” by Ray Parker Jr. I recall my dad singing and dancing to this song while he was driving. He loved this song so much that he went out and bought the soundtrack cassette tape to the movie. Every time I hear this song, I think of my dad and the joyful moment he shared with us.

My dad, I’m sure like many others dads from his generation, often did the “Pull my finger!”  prank. Once, I was told, my brother Ron wanted to take something to “Show and Tell”, when he was in elementary school. So my dad farted in a jar and closed the lid. My brother then took it to school and excitedly told his class about his fart-filled jar.

When my parents decided I was old enough to tell me who my real father was (when I was in ninth grade), my dad told me that I had the best of both worlds by being half Korean and half Japanese. My biological father, who abandoned my mother and I when I was six months old, was a Japanese-American in the U.S. Air Force when he met my mother. Apparently, my American dad knew of him because they had worked on the same base. My dad also mentioned that my bio father wasn’t a very nice man because he didn’t even bother to claim me as his daughter on my birth certificate. By the way, that was the first time I saw my birth certificate. I’m grateful that my dad adopted me, gave me love and support, provided a good life, and gave me an opportunity to be a part of this great country, the United States of America. I wrote a post about our first meeting called, “My First Use of a Simile.”

Although my mother never came to any of my games, because she told me that we never win, my dad came to a couple of my games and cheered for me.  Once, my dad walked into the military post gym, and my friend asked me with a chuckle,”Hey Bobbie, isn’t that your dad?” It was like a scene from the movie, “Dodgeball” or something. As soon as I saw him, I reacted like a typical teenager embarrassed by the presence of a parent wearing goofy clothes. My smartass friend jokingly added, “Doesn’t your dad realize that spandex are supposed to be fitting?” Yes, my dad wore black spandex shorts that we’re kind of loose on him; to make matters worse, his tube socks with colored stripes on them were pulled up to the half-way point of his shins (unequally). At first, I wanted to hide under the bleachers, but then I realized that it didn’t matter what he wore…what mattered was that he came to support me.

Often, we learn about ourselves through others. One day, when I was in elementary school, my dad took me out to dinner at the officers’ club on base. I don’t remember why my mother wasn’t there, she usually is. Anyway, while we were eating, my dad smiled and asked me with a chuckle, “Bobbie, why do you lift your pinky finger up when you eat your French fries?” I didn’t even realize I was doing that. Twenty years later, my husband basically asked me the same question. Again, I forgot that I have this strange habit.

Whenever my mother gave me a Korean style bath, and scrubbed me really hard with what felt like a sandpaper cloth, I would cry an beg her to either stop scrubbing me so hard or that the water was too hot. One time, my dad was home, and he started banging on the bathroom door shouting, “What the hell is going on in there?” I recall being so grateful that my dad was there to rescue me. Looking back, I believe that was just one of the many ways that my mother released her frustrations in life onto me. My mother never severely beat me when my dad was around, because he wouldn’t tolerate it. I wrote a post about his discipline versus her abuse called, “Liberating Wings of Freedom.”

When I got my first “D” on my report card (I believe it was in Social Studies), I was scared to death that I would be in a world of hurt. Fortunately for me, my dad decided to show some compassion. We went into my room, he closed the door behind us, and we had a quiet talk. He reassured me that I wasn’t in big trouble, and that I didn’t have to be afraid. He also added that he wasn’t planning on telling my mother; it would be our little secret. He then asked me if I had received a bad grade because they (my mother and dad) fought a lot. I don’t recall my answer to his question, but I’m sure that the unhealthy environment I was raised in was a major factor. My dad told me to just do my best, and that he will always be proud of me. I remember feeling so relieved. I never received a “D” on my report card again.

Thank you God for giving me the wonderful opportunity to have a father who was compassionate, loyal, brave, strong, resilient, diligent, ambitious, confident, caring, giving, gentle, forgiving, assertive, understanding, humorous, fun, heroic, observant, supportive, encouraging, empowering, humble, and last but not least…loving.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Note:  The following are the sources for the images used in this post:

  • First image “The Loving Father Pastel” by Kathryn Doneghan (fineartamerica.com). The father portrayed in this beautiful artwork looks like my father…interesting.
  • Fifth image “Dance with my father” by Setset08 in 2012 Project ( shadowless.com)
  • Third image “Hug” by diannartllc (diannartllc.com)
  • Fourth Image by chuknum.com
  • Ninth image by marlenemolewyk.blogspot.com
  • Sixth image by biblical men.com
  • Second image by somaywebe.com
  • Seventh image by picturesof.net
  • Eighth image by listsoplenty.com
  • Tenth image by Flickr.com
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~ by Bobbie on July 19, 2012.

4 Responses to “I Was Blessed to Have My Dad”

  1. I so appreciate you honesty and openness Bobbie. Your father is clearly a wonderful spirit, who I’m sure continues to watch over you now.

    • Thank you for your kind and comforting words Jonathan. I truly appreciate your existence…your light makes others brighter. Have a great day! 🙂

      • Hi Bobbi , I loved your blog and am honored you felt my painting embraced the emotion you were trying to express. May you now carry his love over and pour it into a family of your own. All the best.
        Dianna DonFrancisco

      • Awe, thank you so much Dianna for taking time to visit my blog and sharing such kind and inspiring words. I was definitely drawn to your beautiful painting that embraced the emotion I was trying to express…and I appreciate talented artists like you who give souls like me an opportunity to be more expressive.

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