One Autumn Night – another Dad’s story

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

Dad and me

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

Dad

Dad

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.

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About Helen C

A retired computer programmer who loves writing and photographing, and has managed to publish a YA novel "Jin-Ling’s Two Left".
This entry was posted in Dad, Memoir, Writing. Bookmark the permalink.

39 Responses to One Autumn Night – another Dad’s story

  1. Mother Hen says:

    A sweet tender moment for you to remember forever.

    Like

    • Helen C says:

      So true. I am grateful that I had those moments. Thanks, Roberta. Haven’t heard from you for a while. Am I still following you? I think I am… If not, it is a mistake. Please le me know.

      Like

      • Mother Hen says:

        Hi Helen, thank you for the note. I have just been very quiet. It is our first summer here in this area of Oregon and it has been hot and kind of takes all energy away. I was born in a desert community of Ca. and spend too much time there as I don’t do well with heat anymore. I tend to be a deep thinker on life and so have been thinking, pondering on the events of our world. I have photos to share so I should get with it. Yes, you are following me and I thank you for that. Have a great time…Helen!

        Like

        • Helen C says:

          Hello Roberta, I tend to be a deep thinker on life too, but mostly is about why people become the way they are, and who I really am, and who I want to be… etc.The world is a little too big for me to ponder. Nice hearing from you. Thanks.

          Like

      • Mother Hen says:

        ps Ties with my father were severed when my parents divorced. Maybe I was two or three? I don’t know the truth, therefore I only saw my father a few times. I had a step-father and he provided for us a home and he was there but it lacked too. Well, we are survivors and have those special memories that we hold in our hearts…

        Like

        • Helen C says:

          I think whatever had happened to us in the past makes us the people we are today. And in a way, maybe there wasn’t any bad experience… maybe. I don’t know. I wish I do.
          You are a very caring person, so I think you’ve survived well 😉
          I am using my sister’s laptop so I will stop here. Take care.

          Like

  2. Elizabeth says:

    Helen, so lovely story. Your photo is perfect, yes, it says everything you’ve described with your words. Thanks for sharing these special moments with us.

    Like

    • Helen C says:

      Good morning, Elizabeth. Thank you for your comment. It’s interesting how one particular photo means so much for you.
      I’ll miss everyone too. Take care of yourself.

      Like

  3. Elizabeth says:

    And I forgot! Have a fun with your grandniece, I’ll miss you!

    Like

  4. It’s the smallest moments of our lives that make the brightest, most memorable memories.. I love this retelling. Thank you for sharing your history with us all.

    Have a wonderful vacation!!
    🙂

    Like

  5. Cee Neuner says:

    I do adore your special moments. Tells me how sweet you are. Enjoy your visit with your grandniece. See you when you get back 🙂

    Like

  6. pambrittain says:

    This is such a sweet story. Thanks for sharing it.

    Like

  7. treerabold says:

    Sweet and touching story. Thank you for sharing.
    Enjoy your time away….I will miss chatting with you….safe travels!

    Like

  8. Amy says:

    I’m in tears reading this touch story. Beautifully written, Helen!
    Have a great trip, and enjoy the time with your grandniece 🙂

    Like

  9. Robyn G says:

    Helen, these are beautiful memoirs. Tears in my eyes too.
    Your first photo definitely conveys your love for your Dad.
    Thank you for sharing 🙂

    Like

    • Helen C says:

      Thanks Robyn. Like I said to Amy, this is my way of keeping my dad alive. 😉 Thanks for reading it. And than you for letting me know what you think of the photo. That was probably the only time I tried to “reflect” my emotions to a camera. Ha.

      Like

  10. rommel says:

    The power of what the memory holds in a photograph. Glad you go beyond than just showing the pictures. It’s a lovely honor to your father.

    Like

  11. daniellajoe says:

    Very touching post, you are a very good writer 🙂

    Like

  12. Such a touching story. Tears came to my eyes with your last sentence.

    Like

    • Helen C says:

      Hello, Regina. Thank you for visiting my blog and give me a chance to introduce my dad to you 😉 It was a sweet and warm feeling when it happened. A moment I’ll treasure forever. Take care.

      Like

  13. Dalo 2013 says:

    A very nice and endearing moment, and the photo shows it so well.

    Like

    • Helen C says:

      Thanks, Dalo. Your comment means a lot to me. I appreciate it.
      I like the bright colors in your photos. I have to learn to see colors. Also, I am still looking for “the thing” that I really like to take a picture of. I am going to spend more time on your blog and I hope I will find an answer to my own question 😉
      I am glad I could share this moment of my life with everyone. Writing it had brought me back to that moment, which I would treasure forever.

      Like

      • Dalo 2013 says:

        There is something about finding something of interest, and then with a camera getting immersed in the scene (be it people, nature or landscape). Takes a little patience, which is all other areas of my life I lack, but with photography I seem content to wait for it to come together.

        I think you are correct, writing about the experiences while having photographs to share as well brings out the emotion of the moment ~ and as you say & did with this post, it can bring you back to a moment you can treasure forever.

        Look forward to seeing more from you. Cheers!

        Like

        • Helen C says:

          Dalo, I read your comment last night and have been thinking every word you said ever since. I believe you have answered one of my questions (big one), but I need to think hard how to apply that knowledge. I thought I would be happy to be a street photographer (because I wanted to catch those special moments), but in this trip, suddenly I wasn’t sure. Then I got confused… is photographing really something I love to do?
          What you said makes a lot of sense. I don’t just want to catch the moments. I want to be able to connect to those moments and maybe tell a story. I can’t thank you enough!

          Like

  14. Such a great read, Helen, I could feel it …

    Like

  15. carolee1945 says:

    Your words brought tears to my eyes. Only a powerful writer can capture something so precious, so individual to you, yet universal to all. My mom is 96, my dad passed away four years ago. To live with another human being for almost 70 years, and then the empty bed? My mom amazes me that she has carried on.

    Like

    • Helen C says:

      Good morning, Carol. I know what you mean… Once in a while, in the middle of night, I caught my dad staring at me. I knew he was thinking of my mother. ;-(

      Like

  16. Touchingly poignant. It reminds me so much of my friends Milanda and Shengdong. They have a wonderful father/daughter relationship. I love to share time with them even if it is just skyping on a Saturday morning.

    Liked by 1 person

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