l to r. Unknown little girl, my Mother, my oldest sister “Lucy” on my paternal Grandmother’s lap, my Father
The last time I was with my Dad, I was 5 months old. Since I’ve seen photos of him, I knew he existed.
When my family immigrated to Canada 56 years ago, he stayed in China with my oldest sister. His arrival to Canada was coming later.
I never knew anything about him. I didn’t know what he did for a living; why he didn’t come with us or if he even thought of us. It was at my paternal Grandfather’s funeral, that I found out my Father had passed away years before.
My mother is not a talkative person. In my younger days, I use to prod her with questions about him and she never responded with any details. I wasn’t fluent in Chinese and she wasn’t fluent in English. I use to dream up fantasy stories: he was a spy, he was royalty… Once I got into my teens and my oldest sister arrived without him, I realized he was never going to show up. I stopped thinking about him.
Over the years, I watched how my daughter Amber takes after her Dad in more ways than she takes after me. These character traits, just like physical traits, cannot be denied that they are handed down from generation to generation.
Recently I was asked if I ever thought what my Dad was like. I didn’t hesitate, “He was me”. Unlike my Mother and siblings, I could only surmise that I took after my Dad. So, I guess I knew my Dad. I knew him better than anyone.
A recent camping trip made me revisit a memory which occurred in the year 1983.
We had gone to Waskesui Lake for the annual family camping trip. We acquired a campsite right next to the washroom facilities for a possible Amber bathroom emergency. Amber, at the age of 3, was fully toilet trained but my Motherly-angst kicked in.
Picture it! A beautiful summer day. Sunny skies. A light breeze. Birds singing. Rod visits the royal throne. Magazine in hand, he embarks on a solitary journey. A minute or so goes by and Amber gets impatient. She knew where he was and decides to embark on that same path. Keep in mind, the path was only about 75 feet away. She was in my line of sight all the time. I watched her as she stood outside the men’s side of the washroom facilities.
Now picture this! A washroom facility made out of wood and metal compartments. Windows wide open to let the ominous odors out and the fresh air in. Rod was enjoying his peace and quiet when out of nowhere, a squeaky voice comes through echoing into every nook and cranny of that washroom. “Daddy! Are you in there? Are you taking a poop?”
Apparently, another occupant was in the facility and all Rod had to do was to remain quiet hoping this squeaky voice was directed to the other individual. Now every parent out there knows their child’s distinct voice. Like a group of penguins, you know the call of your mate. It is unique and it belongs to them. But Rod is stubborn and remains silent. Maybe Amber will tire and move on. But she kept it up. “Daddy! Are you in there? Are you taking a poop?”
Relief, as the other individual left and Rod was able to respond. By advising little Amber that yes indeed he was in the bathroom, he allowed her to satisfy her curiosity and yes indeed…move on.