When you think of father and daughter relationships, I don't think we had the typical relationship. I don't remember him attending to many of my school functions or even remembering my birthday. I have never had a heart-to-heart conversation with him. And he has never said that he loves me. In tradition Asian culture, it is very common to hold your emotions and I believe my parents are of that belief.
Growing up in the American culture, it was a bit hard to take but looking back...I understand how much he loved my sister and I and just showed his love differently. While he was not at any of my school events, he was working hard 12+ hours in a hot kitchen cooking. My dad was the hardest working person I know (besides my mom) and worked 6 days a week, never ate out or went on fancy vacations. My sister and I were never denied of anything, in fact, he would always bring home gadgets for us to play with. I remember we were one of the first ones to get cable and all the kids would come over and watch MTV and also he bought one of those brick cellphones back in the day. My parents worked hard to put us through a private education and college without any financial assistance.
My dad was not given the chance to have an education in China and has been resourceful from a young age. He never learned to speak English but moved to Hawaii on his own to make a better life for our family. I can not imagine moving to a foreign country with no friends and not speaking the language.
One of my most vivid memory of my dad was him taking us to one of his favorite little spot to eat perogis. These perogis were stuffed with chicken or beef and I asked him how did he know what to order. His reply.."moo or cluck-cluck". I don't even know how he found out about perogi!
Even with his language barrier, he was so friendly to everyone. I swear if he could've spoken English, he could've been the governer. He was always helping others and made friends everywhere he went.
I don't think this hole in my heart will ever go away but I know he is in a better place and he is not suffering any more. Happy Birthday Baba! I love you!