Dad’s Favorite Child
Dad wasn’t a complicated man. He always spoke his mind. Yet, at his funeral service, I learned something new.
My sister Karin paused in the middle of delivering her eulogy speech. I thought she was going to cry. Suddenly, she blurred out, “I was Dad’s favorite child.”
That’s impossible! Sitting in the front row, I shook my head violently, letting her know I strongly disagreed.
Karin looked at me and said, “It’s true, Helen. I know you don’t like to hear it, but I am telling the truth.” She continued telling us how Dad always brought her to his Chinese opera club, how he often bought candies for her on their way to the club.
Dad quit his Chinese opera club after we moved to Taiwan. That explained! Karin must be Dad’s favorite child before I was born. I had no doubt who Dad’s favorite was, but if it made Karin happy, I was ok to let she claim she was the one.
After Dad’s funeral, back in Minnesota, my brother Shao had a terrible time to cope. I drove two hours to visit him every Saturday, trying to comfort him. He cried each time. Seeing all my effort didn’t yield any satisfying result and, at the same time, not having had any chance to deal with my own grief, I finally lost my temper.
“Would you please stop crying? Dad was 90-year old. He died quickly and peacefully. What more could we ask?”
“It’s easy for you to let go, you are not Dad’s favorite child. Dad loved me the most, and I miss him.”
I was stunned.
Shao continued, “Karin knows nothing! I was Dad’s favorite child.”
It was clear to me that Shao honestly believed what he said. I got a little confused.
Once I read a story that a dying mother told her three sons one by one that he was her favorite child, and then asked each to keep it a secret. I didn’t like the story. I didn’t believe her. Did dad purposely mislead us like that woman did to her sons?
I remember the day Dad took me to college when I was a freshman. In my dormitory, while I was sitting on bed watching, he carefully placed my clothes into the chest drawer, and said, “Mom isn’t here. You have to learn to take care of yourself. ”
I can still picture him hunched down reaching to the lower drawer, while avoiding eye contact with me. I knew he was afraid of seeing me cry. Did Dad accompany Karin or Shao to her or his college?
The Thanksgiving after Dad passed away, we had a family gathering. As always I spent a lot of my time teasing my nieces and nephews. One afternoon, two of my nieces came to me demanding to know who my favorite niece was. I thought for a while. “I Love you two the same,” I said.
Karin nodded. “Aunt Helen loves all of you equally,” she said.
Suddenly, it dawned on me that Dad, too, loved us equally. And because he loved each of us so much that each of us assumed he or she was Dad’s favorite.
Dad passed away 13 years ago; I have pondered on this whole experience many times ever since. I have no problem accepting the fact that Dad loved us equally, if that was true. But was it?
I have reached to a conclusion, believe it or not… I believe Dad did love one of us a little more. But I’m not going to tell anyone who that person is.