Dad's Birthday

It was Dad's birthday yesterday. I was hoping to get this out on his bday, but the kept hogging up all the processing threads, so that didn't get any CPU time until late in the evening, and now, the next day morning.


We all have same of story--when he was alive, we barely talked; now that he's gone, we miss him. Maybe it's in the genes. Maybe it's the times we live in, this overused Zeitgeist.

My Dad came to the USA an accomplished man. Goal-oriented, hard working, and smart. By then, he was already married with three kids and just beginning his forties. He had worked hard, did everything right only to end up in America as a refugee.

He admitted to me that teaching high school math was as far as he wanted go. He had decided to become a teacher, and eventually he even became a Principal of a school, but he never taught Science. Even back in the 50's, it was a bit too much-- better to focus on cleaner math: geometry and algebra. And so he taught high school math like his friends. Before he died, an old friend came by with a picture of all of them at graduation in their black robes. It reminded me of us in our cap and gown.

A few years ago, I asked Dad if he wanted to visit Vietnam again. We could tour the country. But it was too late. He had gone back once already with his wife in the early 2000's, and said there was no point in going now. Most of his friends had already passed away. Who would he visit? His life that was there is gone. The house we lived in has someone else in it. The Vietnam he knew is gone in a flash mob of new construction. Maybe he was telling me that life is too short to chase memories. Maybe the cancer had started already, and he could feel the strength fading. He thought the weakness was just a result of getting old.

He was a man of habits and rituals, and a knack for compartmentalization. I guess I inherited some of that. Learn the rituals. Do it proper, and do it well. And compartmentalize your emotions.

What do we do in a changing world that has no rituals or customs we can do or understand? He didn't have any life lessons to teach because they would be irrelevant lessons from an vanishing world. So if we can't shower our kids with money, wisdom, or life lessons, then it's better to just be there.

Is this my lesson? Is this what I've inherited or internalized into my own rituals and habits and processes and hybrid CPUs? Is the code of life calling functions within us to instantiate physical objects of love and asking us to pass it to the next person? Do we all need physical instances of love hanging around close to us like talismans protecting our life?

The best we can do in changing times is to be there, hanging around like a talisman that has no real function but somehow protects and makes those near stronger. To watch, to lend silent support, to document the right and wrongs, to document it all and then have an exhibit and call it documenta every 5 years.

In the end, just be here like a talisman. And so I'm here, remembering you back then, conjuring up love instances with my Dr Strange Love's amulet.