April 14, 2014
Today is your 62nd birthday. Mom texted me this morning to remind me, but I was already aware. Mom texting. Yes, I would have never guessed she would manage to figure it out either. She has even managed to FaceTime. Who would have thought, right?
I’ve been thinking about you quite a bit lately, knowing your birthday was around the corner. As the kids are getting older, and their personalities are coming out and characteristics and values are being molded, I find myself thinking about how much is from their dad and how much is from me. And then, I start wondering how much of my own personality and characteristics I inherited from you.
For instance, I have re-discovered a passion for writing. Although I haven’t ever seen anything you have written, Mom tells me you wrote her beautiful letters while you were stationed in other countries in the Army. This year I finally decided to take my love for writing to the blog world. Another thing is that I am shy. Obviously, you know this having raised me, but you’re kind of shy too. Despite being shy, when people have gotten to know us, they see how funny we are. I’m always cracking Mom up, and she tells me about your sense of humor. I remember when I was little, and people always thought you were funny, but as your child I was forced to feel embarrassed. I remember one time, we were at a mall, and you were pretending you had never been on an escalator and didn’t know how to get off it at the bottom. It was funny, and embarrassing, and hopefully I can embarrass my kids in the same way someday.
Another characteristic I think I got from you is openness. You married Mom, which I know was not uncommon for guys in the military. But you accepted her Asian culture despite growing up and living in such rural, white, communities. You were sensitive to her homesickness and made sure she always had a supply of Korean food despite living 3 hours away from the nearest Korean store. I remember you always be-friending people of other races. Although I remember racist jokes too, your actions always implied acceptance. I thought you would experience complete culture shock when visiting me in Dinkytown in college. You definitely noticed the gothic and punk rock looks of some of the inhabitants, but you simply laughed about it being so different and didn’t appear to have negative judgment.
The most important thing, which I think allows for me to connect with my children and the adolescents I work with, is the spirit of childhood that lives within. It’s that ability to be silly, to have a sense of humor, to understand childhood hopes and dreams. It is that ability to remain youthful without caring how others interpret it. I know my kids love this about me, and I think it’s why I can develop a rapport with adolescents so quickly.
Thank you Dad for passing all of these things on to me. Your birthday is an annual reminder of how you continue to be with me.