I am taking 12 days off to visit my grandniece 😉 starting tomorrow. I don’t think I will be able to post any, but I will definitely try to read all of yours!
Before I go, I would like to share with you more of Dad’s stories.
Have a wonderful 2-weeks!
A Picture of Dad and me
I remember this photo well. A week before I left Taiwan coming to U.S, Dad took me to Wulai.
Wūlái Qū; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: U-lâi-khu) is a rural district in southern New Taipei City in northern Republic of China (Taiwan). It sits near the border with Taipei and is famous for its hot springs. It is the largest district in New Taipei as well as the most mountainous. The name of the town derives from the Atayal phrase qilux ulay meaning “hot and poisonous”. – from Wikipedia.
I was quite surprised: (1) we seldom visited tourist spots; it would cost money (2) Dad had never taken me to any trip (3) I had never seen Dad enjoy the beauty of nature.
When our friend offered to take a photo of Dad and me, I was delighted. I wanted the camera to record every little bit of my emotion: the sadness because I would leave home soon, the joy because I was with Dad alone (no other siblings, yeah!). Most of all, I wanted the photo to show how much I loved Dad.
I intentionally stood very close to Dad. In my old fashioned Chinese family, our parents seldom hugged us. We hugged our mother once in a while; we liked to hear Mom giggle, but we usually kept a little distance from Dad. I expected Dad to take a step back (it was out of his comfort zone, I thought), but he took it well.
What do you think? Did it capture all I wanted it to capture?
One Autumn Night
My 90-year-old Dad liked to keep his room hot in fall and winter. It felt like 100 degrees. After Mom passed away, whenever I visited him I would sleep on the extra twin bed in Dad’s room, piling up blankets at one end, resting my feet on top. I didn’t mind the heat. It brought me back to those hot summer days in Taiwan and soon I was thrilled with a joy, akin to that of seeing an old friend whom I wasn’t fond of before, but I liked now just because we had been apart for so long.
I slept well in Dad’s room, but whenever he made the slightest move my eyes would pop open as if they were equipped with a sensor to detect motion – Dad’s motion.
When Dad got up in the middle of that September night, I immediately knew. I watched him walk from his bed across the room to the bathroom. When his body swayed to a precise angle, his foot stepped forward a half step. I considered jumping up to assist him, but didn’t want to hurt his pride. I pretended to sleep, and prayed he wouldn’t fall. If he did, I would be ready to pick him up.
Dad fell once when Mom was still here. Mom found him on the floor near their bedroom. She pulled him up and brought him back to the living room where my sisters and I sat on the sofa chatting. I asked Mom if we should take Dad to the hospital. Mom took a look at Dad and said, “He’s fine.” That was almost two years ago.
I was relieved to see Dad made it to the bathroom. He didn’t bother to close the door. I saw him holding on to the wooden bar that my brother had recently installed. Dad didn’t want it. He said there was no need. But I insisted. It was one of the few times that I ignored his words. Now I was glad I did.
With my eyes closed, I listened.
When Dad was done, I peeped again. Leaning against the doorframe, he cautiously stepped onto the carpet and walked straight toward me. What is he doing? My eyes were half shut; I couldn’t see his face. His body seemed lonely.
He was never lonely when Mom was still around. She filled his teacup often, reminded him when to take what pills, and cooked special dishes for him to eat with his favorite Chinese liquor. Even at night he was being watched – Mom poked him once in a while. When he asked “what?” she giggled.
The day I came for Mom’s funeral, Dad collapsed in my arms. “I don’t know what to do,” he said.
I hugged him for a long time. “You still have us, Dad.”
He didn’t hear me, I could tell. He sobbed like a child.
Why is Dad still standing by my bed? Did he want a hug now?
I wanted to get up and hug him. If I held him in my arms, maybe there was no way he could slip away like Mom did. But, would I scare him?
I lay still, waiting for him to call my name.
Slowly, he bent over and picked up a blanket from the floor. In the dark, his shaking hands gently tucked me in.