The One Thing about me

There is just one thing you should know about me. Only one. That is, I love my father.

He is the reason why I do everything that I do. He is the reason why I work hard, I love, and I give. I am what my father has made me. I cannot be more thankful.

I remember sitting on his lap and playing rock-paper-scissors when I was five. I remember I felt embarrassed when he kissed my cheek in front my classmates in elementary school. I remember that he disappeared for a few years. When I saw him again, we, all of a sudden, had a bigger apartment and a better car. I remember him taking me home every weekend from middle school. In those teenage years, I didn’t want to talk to him; I just wanted to hide and text my “boys.” I remember him being mad, disappointed, and concerned for me when he found out that I was dating someone at age 13. He yelled at me for going on a double date. In many traditional Chinese parents’ eyes, girls who date that young are bad.

Growing up, I never liked my father’s rules. As a result, I didn’t like being around him.

It wasn’t until when I came to the U.S. at age 15 did I start to learn about my father. It was strange that the way how I got to know my father was through oversees phone calls.

My first year in the U.S. was rough. I changed host families within the first 3 months. I had no idea how school worked, how families worked, and how friends worked. I had a bob cut, a hood with two cat ears on them, and a pair of Nike sneakers. I asked the most non-sensible questions. I said the rudest things. Simply put, I was just odd.

I wanted to go back to China so badly. Knowing that there was no way going back was awful, depressing, and hopeless. So I sat in front of the Chinese Facebook every day.

During that time, my father and I became best friends. I remember speaking with him on the phone for hours. He is funny. I would laugh on the floor for the things he said. He is also serious. He would tell me how he got to where he is today from a door man 10 years ago. He is one of the wisest people I know. He would tell me how what it means to be tough and competitive while being kind.

My father has shown me what dignity and hard work mean. He worked his way out of mediocrity. As a result, I don’t believe in handout. I don’t believe in any free lunch. I fear mediocrity. I believe in human agency. I believe people get exactly what they work for. I believe that there is no absolute barrier in the world. A by-product of this theory is my disbelief in racism, sexism, and classism. All that I believe in is hard work.

My father has shown me what it means to be generous and how it pays back in the long run. He would encourage me to get the bills at dinner with friends and sacrifice myself to benefit others. When I wanted my roommate to re-arrange her furnitures so that we would have an equal share of the room, my dad talked me out of it.

My father would subtly point out his expectations for me, but then he would immediately retract it and say that he would be happy to see me doing whatever makes me happy. He makes it clear that he has worked hard enough so that I don’t have to work all that hard. He just wants me to live a comfortable life and not go through the toughness in his life. I would nod, but I know I am expected to achieve, to make a difference, and to make him proud.

My father’s sacrifice and love for me is bittersweet. He has developed chronicle illnesses because of his suicidal work ethic, but he can care less about himself; he is just happy to see that I can now go to school in the U.S. and lead a comfortable life.

I’ve been in Catholic schools for seven years, but I’ve never been religious. I cannot admit to anything bigger than my father, because he is my religion. He is the source of my moral values. He is the reason why I work hard, strive to treat people right, give myself to others, and love. My life is made meaningful because of him. I am very lucky to be alive in this life.

I don’t know why I was given this much. I cannot justify why I am so lucky. I cannot attribute my silver spoon to my hard work. Thus, I am a strong believer in “to whom much is given, much is expected.” I know I bear greater responsibilities. I know that, deep down in my heart, I was brought to effect positive changes in the world. I cannot see myself doing anything but daring greatly, giving myself completely to others, and leaving this world better than I found it.

If there is one thing you should know about me, that is, I love my father. I’ve never told him this; neither has he said he loved me.