I vividly remember my father and mother taking my older brother and I to U.S. National Parks. We went to Yellowstone when I was about 7. My brother and I were following around bears in the campground. We were just back in Yellowtone this June. Brings back a flood of memories. The picture above was taken on Oct. 31, 2007 in California, our home state. How many of you have United States serving World War II veterans in your family? My father served as in American-born Chinese unit. More about that here http://www.huffingtonpost.com/victoria-moy/chinese-american-wwii-vets_b_989073.html
I wrote this article in 1996 as a tribute to my father for the Family News of the Scarborough Chinese Baptist Church where I was serving as English Ministry pastor. As he passed away on June 10 ’11, it is good to reflect on this. His funeral service was on the Sat. (June 19) of Father’s Day weekend.
“Old fashion.” “Behind the times” “Something out of the pest.” These are ways some people might describe my dad. I prefer the term “classic”. By this I mean that there are qualities to be appreciated in the old way of doing things. Today we crave for the new, the novel, the better way. Yet, there are lessons we can learn from time-proven ways of doing things.
There is consistency in having the same job for over 40 years. By “same,” I mean that he did basically the same “routine” job from the day he began work until the time he retired. He was a loftsman at the Naval Air Station in Alameda, California. I still can’t quite figure out what he did. The best that I can figure out is that he made small scale prototypes of airplane parts from drawings. He never aspired to be a supervisor. “Too much pressure,” he would say. “He became a foreman and look what happened to him,” was another of his famous sayings. He never switched locations. After serving in the Second World War, it was natural to get a job with the armed services. He would leave the house at the same 6:30 a.m. time in the morning and return down the big hill at the same 4 p.m. time in the afternoon. You could set your clock by his opening and closing of the front door.
Dad lived and still lives with mom at the same house in Oakland for over 40 years. They lived there before I was born. The only reason that I was born in San Francisco was because they knew the doctor there. I forget the statistics how often people move residences. From that house I went to Chicago to study at a Moody Bible Institute so I stayed in the dorm. I spent a summer in Taiwan for summer missions after I finished my B.A. in Foreign Missions. Then I was off to Dallas Seminary for study first residing in the dorm and then in a seminary apartment after I got married following the first year and a half. Flora and I moved to our first house a few years later. Then I was off to ministry in Toronto, first staying in an apartment, a rented house, our own house and then our current house. That places me at 9 moves in over 20 years. Other people have moved more or less times. Yet my dad has zero moves in that time.
Dad was there in that house when the freeway was built and severed the street in two. Our street name was change from “Avenue” to “Place”. Dad was there when every neighbor in the 6 other houses in the “Place” changed owners, often more than once. It wasn’t that my parents didn’t think about moving over the years. My brother, Mike, the realtor, has often talked to them about the benefits of moving. Dad would say, “It’s too much trouble to move. We have too much junk!” Well, dad is the consistency amidst inconsistency. He is the stability amidst instability.
Dad never had a “to do” list. Let me take that back. He did get “to do” lists from mom. They were the grocery lists. Yet, Dad never seemed to get it just right. He might bring back the right item but the wrong brand. The other brand was the sale item. The quantity was wrong. The item didn’t match mom’s famous coupon that was supposed to go with the item. We all had a good laugh when Dad returned from the store.
Dad never said, “I’m too busy.” He always seemed to have time to play sports with his two boys. When I went through stages of interest, he took me to the San Francisco Giants game, the San Francisco Warriors game, the World Federation of Wrestling match, and quite a few Oakland Raiders games. It seemed like my wish was his command. Dad wasn’t busy about his own hobbies but with ours like raising every kind of pet, including a total of three dogs, guinea pigs, hamsters, turtles, tropical fish, and goldfish. We assembled plastic models. Or should I say, we assembled my models. I don’t recall that he had any hobby except if it was family.
Dad was always there when he was needed. He was at all the school events. He “helped” with the school projects. He took our family to church. As chauffeur, he dropped me off and picked me up from places. He was patient enough to teach me how to drive.
When I think about the responsibilities of fathering, I often think about Dad. Our children are moving up into the teen years and I think of what type of father I am to them. You hear the “horror” stories the absentee dad or the one who traded presents for time. My dad seemed to have a high priority on his family.
I haven’t followed in my father’s steps to do things so traditionally. Some might take issue with that. I hope that I have picked up my father’s emphasis on family. Such an investment can have long-term returns from generation to generation