A Father’s Heart

I finally got to be in the same city as my dad this past father’s day, for the first time in maybe half a decade. But strangely enough, as Dr. Kim blew out the candles on the sumptuous, layered chocolate mousse cake I picked out for him earlier that day, I was reminded of another Mr. Kim.

I met Mr. Kim five years ago. He must be around my father’s age. At 5:45 a.m. sharp every day, he’d be waiting outside my Seoul apartment in his black Lincoln town car. He was the driver assigned to shuttle me to my client site in Korea. I was fresh out of college, so the whole reality of having a personal driver take me anywhere — even to a long workday at the client site 2 hours away — made me feel a like a princess.

Over the course of the 120-minute ride, Mr. Kim would tell me about how the different neighborhoods in Seoul had changed over the years. “Gangnam used to be a cluster of farmland!” he’d chuckle. “I should have invested in a small plot of land back in the 80s. I’d be rich!”

A few trips in, he told me more about himself. “My son’s serving in the peace corps in South Africa,” he’d proudly tell me. “He’s a good kid, maybe a few years older than you. I miss him all the time.”

As the workdays got longer and I was skimping on sleep, I started dozing off during the rides. My heart wanted to hear more of his stories but my body literally wasn’t up for it.

“Ms. Lily, it’s time to go to work.” Mr. Kim’s soft voice rustled me awake. He handed me the trip receipt and I hopped out of the car. As I was walking into the building, I realized the receipt read 7:15 a.m. as the time of arrival. We had arrived early but Mr. Kim had parked the car and waited for half an hour (unpaid!), just to let me catch a few more precious moments of sleep before I had to go into the office.

His thoughtfulness to wait at his own expense: I can only surmise that it comes from his father’s heart.

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