It’s strange that just three months ago we said good bye to my father.
Some days it feels like he has been gone for a while. Other days like today, it feels as if he was just here. He was just here.
When people ask me how I’m doing regarding my Dad I’m not sure what to say. I appreciate the kind sentiments but it’s hard to explain what I’m feeling. How do I explain to people that I feel sad, angry, thankful, longing, terrible, at peace, all at the same time? Dad’s passing is easily the hardest thing I’ve ever been through and I still don’t feel like I’ve gotten to process or share all that I want to from that experience.
I’ve been especially grateful for those that have reached out to me who have gone through a similar experience. There’s no words that need to be shared between us. There’s a common understanding that what we went through was tough. We acknowledge the loss and pain. We continue on knowing that we are not alone.
If there’s any comfort in losing someone you’ve loved dearly it’s that you’re not alone in life. We’ll all go through this season in life in one way or another.
I don’t know if I’ll ever be truly ready or able to say good bye or “move on”. Maybe that’s ok.
But what I do know is that to keep my Dad with me and to honor his life, I try to think about him and talk about him when I can. So I wanted to share with you 3 reflections that my brothers and I spoke about at his celebration of life service this past May:
The Things That Not Everyone Saw or Knew About
My older brother Josh brought this up during Dad’s service and I was thankful he mentioned it. There were things about my Dad that people never really knew about.
He was imperfect: though my Dad was a great man and was my hero, though he left a big impression and huge impact on so many lives, he was flawed like everyone else. Sometimes we only like to remember the good things about our memories of people. I’m thankful that my brother reminded me that Dad was not the easiest person to get along with.
He was stubborn at times. He had a temper. Because of his integrity and values he butted heads with a lot of people and rarely gave in to societal pressures. In some ways it made him confrontational. He didn’t make all the right choices and decisions for his business and his personal life. But we loved him dearly despite and because of all of these things. It made him who he was.
He was a big softy: though he was an impressively big man (especially for Asian standards) he had an emotional side that not many knew about. He cried often for his favorite sports teams and when he heard emotional stories. He loved the 90s show “Touched by and Angel”. He was deeply touched when people did things for him. Not many saw this side of my Dad.
He struggled with vulnerability: Dad rarely shared what he was really thinking and feeling. But even towards the end of his 70 years of life he showed my family in many ways that he was still learning and growing. He allowed himself to be vulnerable and focused on what mattered the most, spending time with us and others. He knew he was still a work in progress and that God was never finished with him.
And maybe the most special thing about being with Dad at the end of his life was getting to learn more about him through his family and friends. There were so many stories and things we never knew that helped us see sides of him that we never knew existed.
He Was a Great Teacher
My little brother Joel says this about Dad a lot and I believe it as well. Dad was a great teacher. He loved to learn and thus loved to share knowledge. He felt he had a calling to help others. He was always trying to instill something in others whether it was directly in a conversation or indirectly through his actions.
In my life he tried to instill in me the following things:
- Love God and love others.
- Live life with integrity. Who you are when no one else is watching matters.
- Work hard regardless if you aren’t recognized for it.
- Stand up to injustice.
- Do what you love, even if others don’t really understand your passion.
I’ll never forget the countless times I witnessed Dad trying to serve others by being a teacher. There’s so many people he taught how to fish or play board games, it wasn’t about the actual skill of learning these things that mattered the most. He wanted to show others that he was invested in them and spending time together was the most important thing. Whether it was offering powerful insights in a discussion, or telling someone he believed in them, or just being with someone during a difficult time, Dad was always trying to instill and share something with others that he himself believed in deeply – we are loved.
A Legacy of Love
This is the most important thing that I try to hold on to and live out in my life that was given to me by both of my parents – we are loved and we should love and care for others. Life with Dad was not easy by any means. Maybe when I was a kid I didn’t fully understand or appreciate my parents but from my senior year of high school I got it. They taught me what unconditionally love was. They wanted me to know what love looked and felt like. Then they charged my brothers and I to share that with others.
You may or have never met my Dad but I’m hoping if you know me or know my family, you’ll in a way have been impacted him. We hope you know you are loved. His life and legacy continues through us.
I miss you Dad. I hope you are at peace and fishing. We think of you and give thanks for you everyday.