Happy Father’s Day to each of you. My parents who live in San Francisco visited us last week. We very much enjoyed our time and we were immensely excited to hear the news they shared with us: they’ve decided to move to Seattle in the coming year. After years of inviting, encouraging, and enticing, it appears our efforts will come to fruition…
From this past Sunday’s Seattle Times paper, I enjoyed reading a feature story entitled “The Heart of It: From His Dad’s Death, a Son Searches for the Meaning of Life.” The story is written by Michael Ko who also happens to attend Quest. He leads a community group with his wife, Liz. I was privileged to be able to officiate their wedding about a year ago…
Couple years ago when I attended Michael’s father’s funeral, it dawned on me that his father, Hi Sun Ko, was one of the first people I met in Seattle [couple years before I met Michael]. My wife and I flew out to Seattle in March 1997 to interview for a position at a Korean-American church in Lynnwood. By coincidence, his father was on the interview committee. This is a very well written story about Mike’s relationship with his father – then and now; there was much in this article that resonated with me. Here’s a short excerpt from the article:
The night my father died, an older Korean man, a family friend, told me not to cry in front of my mother. He said my first job was to take care of her, and after the funeral, I should find someplace private and cry then.
That Korean male detachment again.
I know I have some of it, too. Maybe that’s why I clamp up.
But I also know I want to be different from my father in that way. I don’t want to bottle up my feelings until they become toxic.
I sought counseling after his death, thinking it might help locate the feelings I was sure I had.
Some of those sessions, along with a firmer grounding in my family and faith, and abundant grace and patience from my wife — who lost her own mother to cancer — have given voice to some of those feelings.
I feel sadness and regret — that I didn’t know my father as well as I should have.
I feel fear — that I, too, might die early.
I feel confusion — about why he made some of the choices he made, and also that I’m understanding and explaining him wrong.
I feel weird — that I can’t stop wearing his ratty brown jacket that’s too short in the arms.
I feel grateful — that he moved his wife and children to another country, and despite all the obstacles, did what he could to feed us, keep us safe, buy us toys and somehow build a new life for us. I feel like I have a solid foundation for making my own decisions and being responsible for my own successes and failures.
I feel proud — that he lived a rich life, full of successes and mistakes and daring. Maybe there were times he wished for more, but my guess is that he was in the end satisfied. In his 50s, he would sometimes walk around our water-view house in Mukilteo — one result of my parents’ dry-cleaning toil — and say life was OK.
And I feel acceptance of our relationship — that any profound meaning in what transpired between us will become clear in its own time, not in mine, and that the tension in my chest will loosen, as it has been, as the days pass. [read the full story]
For those interested, here’s another article written in the NY Times by a Korean-American novelist about his relationship with his father.