I’ve long ago learned the courtship between my mother and father. 1987 – She had fell head long for his skinny jeans and head full of hair , he in turned succumbed to her vulnerability , pulled by the heartstrings of her charming cacophony in the English and Chinese language.
They were a perfect decade apart, and he would joke that when he was 20 he’d have just as well been hitting on an 8-year old later-to-be-his-wife-in-another-decade-or-so.
Her family could not resist the man who butchered their traditional dishes of Vietnamese rolls, not clumsy, but of reason – “they all end up in the same place, with the same look.” he said. So after a short nine months of courtship she accepted his proposal, though robbed of a ring, which he promised , and exactly delivered after paying his dues, among a plethora of other lavishes – In fondness and gratitude for her perseverance until the time when he finally succeeded from the boy who learned secretively and probably illegally outside of classrooms he could not afford, to becoming a manager of a large company. However, there was no extravagant ceremony for the then newlywed couple who moved continents in search of nondiscriminatory coworkers and a job more thrilling than an accountant. There was also no ostentatious funeral service for the same man 18 years later as he once again moved family, continents and fortunes to do what a hard working man could never do – he cherished his family. He brought together the two sisters separated since elementary and spent all his life’s savings for one trip. On a particular night of August, when the random stroke came, hours earlier the man had urged his wife and daughters to reign their obsessive play of board games for the night. His last words were to his wife at 2am. “Wake up, go pee, then call the ambulance.”
The man’s friends had remained in china so his funeral was barren cept for his only brother who flew in from Hong Kong and his now widowed wife’s relatives nearby.
“You can’t date” was an instinct from his youngest daughter. It was betrayal to though nothing but ashes in a jar. At 9, not fulling grasping the concept of life, death, marriage, and relationships, the little girl could only look aside in grimace when her mother openly showed affection to her ‘friends’. She knew not a specific reason as to why she despised their close contact, but of an innate response that it was bad. She wanted her mom to be happy, she was glad she was, but she wanted her to be happy with her dad. Otherwise alone.
There had been one argument and she had lost. Her mother’s final decision to come clean on what was becoming a very obvious truth had been the catalyst for growth the girl did not care to reach then, if ever. There’s no distinct memory as to what platform the fifth grader stood upon, apart from “you can’t”, just known fact that she had lost to the ambiguous question of “why”.
2013 – I’ve long ago learned the courtship between a man and a woman. She fell for his etiquette and Caterpillar eyebrows, and he like many gentlemen beforehand finds charm in her still awkward English and infectious laughter. When Stefan invited my mother and I for dinner at his apartment, I agreed.
He is not my dad. My dad was Henry Yeung, born 1955-2007. He wasn’t perfect, he’s no longer here, but I will remember him. Stefan does not take his place, but it is not wrong for him to take a place.
* I apologize to those who have previously known my stories, or read other small pieces similar if not with very familiar content and find this redundant; trying to find the right words everyday.