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Thoughts on Father's Day
By Kaila Chan

As Father's Day nears, I think about my father and remember the thoughts I've had since I was a little girl. Why do we have this holiday called "Father's Day?" Why did I have to draw pictures and make cards and crafts for a man I hardly knew?

My father was an old fashioned man from a small village in China. He was raised in the old Chinese tradition that the man was the head of the household, and the wife's job was to take care of the home and children. Unfortunately, my mother died when I was only seven years old, leaving my old fashioned father alone to raise my younger brother and me. Forty-plus years later, I can sympathize with what my father must have gone through, trying to be both mother and father when he didn't have the faintest clue how to be either!

My father was so detached as a parent that I remember he never called me by my name; rather, he would refer to me as "girl." He did this not only verbally, but when he wrote me notes. This was not discrimination on my father's part. He referred to my brother as "boy." Until the day he passed away, he struggled to show any kind of emotion or love toward my brother and me. I don't remember any hugs or kisses from my father. I feel deep sadness in my heart for all that my father missed out on. I suspect he could have changed his ways, but he really didn't know how. I remember thinking, "I would never want to be a father."

Then I look at my husband. He, too, was raised in a broken home. His father was a strict disciplinarian, who also had a hard time showing love. But somehow, my husband broke the mold -- he learned how to love and how to show love.

When my husband and I married, I had two children from my first marriage. Like my father, my first husband decided it was easier to remove himself from the family unit. I worried about my children. I knew what it was like growing up with a single parent, and I was very aware of how difficult it was be to be both Mom and Dad to my children.

My husband willingly took my children into his heart. He took the time and effort to show my children what a real father was like. He showed a true interest in them. He was elated with their accomplishments, often puffing up his chest with pride.

He sympathized and encouraged them through their failures. He spent time with my children, teaching my son how to raise a thriving vegetable garden and my daughter how to take care of her car. As I watch my husband interact with my children, it is as if they are his own flesh and blood. Even though my husband has three children of his own from a former marriage, all five children are treated the same. We are truly a complete family, and I owe it all to my husband.

So you see, Father’s Day is a day of conflict for me. My heart aches for the father I never had, and it sings for the father my children now have. As I write these words, I’ve come to accept the fact that although my father was more or less a shadow that walked through our family home, I can love him and treasure him. But I think I will keep my father in the past. Right now, I’ll share with my children the joy they have with the man I call my husband.

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