Happy Father's Day
This is the second Father's Day without my own father, who died in July of 2007. I can't honestly say with time it gets all that much easier to deal with. My father was a great guy. He had a great work ethic and always did the very best he could to provide for his kids. He was always a faithful partner to my mother as well, which is something that can't be said for all men these days. Half of marriages end up in divorce you know, while so many others are ruined with adultery, which ruins the trust in marriage and often ends many marriages. My father always resisted these bad temptations. My mother was so heartbroken after the loss of my father that she died a little more than 90 days after he did, probably of a broken heart more than anything.
Maybe more than anything, my dad proved his character when he served in Korea in 1950 during that war when Communist forces overran 90% of the South, and bayonet charges by hordes of Chinese troops against American forces became commonplace on the cold battlefields of this foreign land. Because my dad had experience working as a baker since the age of 16, he was asked to be a main cook on a prisoner of war camp in Pusan, South Korea. Because my dad had no racist instincts, he had no problem working along the side of a number of African American soldiers in the kitchen, back at a time when few opportunities existed for African American soldiers in a segregated America. My dad was also a great friend to the Korean staff who helped to support the Americans. For Christmas, my dad dyed a set of white cook clothes red and made a Santa suit and gave small presents to the Koreans, his African American co-workers in the kitchen and other soldiers on the base. When one Sergeant saw this great act of kindness on the part of my father, he was jealous that he didn't first think of it. But it was good works like this and treating the Koreans and others with respect that made my father a well loved soldier.
Unfortunately, not every soldier behaved as honorably during this war. Some GIs actually offered poor Korean women a dollar for sexual favors, which was something that always made my father angry and disgusted because it was such a dehumanizing and racist way to treat these Korean people. My dad loved these Koreans. They had a wonderful culture and were wonderful people. My dad always had the highest of respect for these people. My dad always admired that I also had such a respect for the Korean people, which I learned from him, and was always pleased when I had Korean business friends and contacts. My dad's respect for the Korean people became a huge influence in my life.
Compared to some modern soldiers who behaved so miserably at Abu Ghraib or committed some dehumanizing war crimes while in Iraq or elsewhere, my father's military service was built on respect for the people around him, respecting their culture while he shared American traditions such as Christmas gift giving with the Korean people.
But being the best guy still doesn't mean that life will be easy. During the early days of my life, my dad struggled with all of the heartache and serious medical costs for providing medical care for my sister who was born with some significant birth defects. This was back in a day when health insurance was an unknown idea. When you had medical expenses in those days, you got stuck paying the entire bill yourself. And unfortunately helping organizations such as the Shriner's refused help, leaving my dad stuck working long hours to pay huge medical costs for my sister. Certainly my dad wondered why he had to be burdened with so much sadness. But he worked hard and got through it somehow.
Even though my father could display enough toughness to get through whatever problem he faced, he still had a very soft side. My mother remembers the romantic message he wrote with lipstick one day on the bathroom when she was well in her 60's, saying simply, "I love you, Eileen". That message is still on the mirror. I never had the heart to wipe it off. It meant so much to my mother.
Just for a lark, my dad wrote a wonderful letter to the Oregonian about his marriage which actually lasted just short of 58 years, interrupted only by their deaths in 2007. THE OREGONIAN loved my dad's romantic letter so much that they published a Valentine's Day feature on my parents.
This was the type of guy my dad was. He could be a wonderful romantic on one hand. He could be equally tough when needed to be. Yet sometimes, some things could nearly bring tears to his eyes such the time when we were at an airport and some American families were adopting some Korean orphan babies.
My dad would probably get a few tears in his eyes reading all this. I know that it would certainly touch him. I'm only sorry that I can't deliver this to him since he's gone now. But happy Father's Day dad. Here's to you.