Friday, March 25, 2011

My Dad's Eulogy

I had the honor of delivering my dad's eulogy. This is what I said:

I’ve always known my dad to have distinct qualities about him. He was someone who talked about his big dreams one day, and then executed those dreams sometimes the very next day. Because of this, he ran many successful businesses, gained a lot of experience and skill from being involved in many different fields. He also loved nature, photography, music, antiques, and golf. He spent many years practicing golf. One day he told me that he wanted to play in an open golf tournament. When I asked him about it a month later, he told me that he decided not to play in the tournament because couldn’t justify the registration fees because of the needs of his family. He did say that the person who won first place was a semi-pro golfer that he knew; someone who he had already played and won against in the past. Sadly, he never played much golf after that. I’m not sure if he shared this with anyone else but myself, but I’m happy that I can share this about him today. He was an amazing guy.

I learned something about him just as I arrived home this week. My brother had got him a new computer. And he had been learning how to use Windows 7. It turns out that he had been using the Internet to find and get in touch with his friends from high school and college. They had created a discussion board and had been exchanging stories.

He also had been using the Internet to find and download some of the songs that he loved during his youth and adult years. He had amassed a pretty impressive collection. I was so happy to hear how he got to experience some of the ever improving ways to connect with his past through the Internet just before he left us.

Over my entire life, when I finally thought I had my dad figured out, I would realize later that I completely had him figured wrong. He was someone who had a different perspective on a lot of things and how things should be done. Why he said and did some things will always remain a mystery. But the one thing I am certain about is that his love and willingness to provide for his family was absolutely the most one can receive from a father.

He was selfless when it came to caring for himself VS caring for his family. It was incomprehensible at times. He bore the weight of every family member’s struggles completely on his shoulders probably every day of his life. It didn’t matter that our family members didn’t know that he was trying to solve everyone’s struggles. It didn’t matter to him when we told him that we’ll be fine and we wanted him and mom to enjoy life. In his mind, he knew he could do it, and no one needed to try to convince him otherwise. His commitment in trying to provide for his family is always something that I never questioned. And it is something that immediately comes to mind when I try to think of his best qualities.

I feel that because he felt this extraordinary commitment to his family, he lived a very hard life when he didn’t have to. But I finally understand now because providing for his family, anything and everything at any time, was his passion in life.

If I could change anything, I wish I could have been more receptive of his offers for help. I could have said, “Wow, that’s great dad, I love it” every time, instead of telling him that I didn’t need it. It would have been just that easy to communicate to him just how much we appreciate and need him in our lives.

If my dad is listening, I would tell him thank you. I’m sorry for always having been so difficult. I love you. And I miss you.

(The part that I edited out the last minute. I was going to tell this story first then say everything else.)

I would like to share with you a memorable vacation we had together as a family. It was Memorial Day weekend of 2005. It was the first time in almost 20 years that my family felt comfortable enough to close their shop for more than a day. We planned a 3 day trip to Las Vegas. We even bought tickets to see a show. We decided to take my sister’s car because it was the only car that could seat all of us comfortably.

The traffic was unusually thick that morning near Barstow around 9AM. We sat through an hour of traffic moving less than 5 miles per hour. My dad always loved to play with the gears on a car, even on a 7 year old Toyota Camry with an automatic transmission.

My dad loved music too. While sitting in traffic, my dad wanted to listen to my iPod at full blast with the earplugs on. A little while later, the grueling traffic cleared, and everyone cheered as my dad floored the gas pedal.

What he didn’t realize was that he had left the car in 2nd gear. Because of the earphones, he didn’t hear the engine struggling as the engine exceeded the limits in 2nd gear. It didn’t help that there were 5 adults in a car with a small engine.
Two seconds later, there was a loud pop under the hood and the car shook. I was really hoping we ran over something, but when black smoke rushed into the cabin of the car, I knew we had a serious problem in our hands.

We quickly pulled over. As my dad opened the hood, flames shot out and the front part of the car caught on fire. As my sister, brother, and I ran to a safe distance, my mom and dad were worried about one thing; getting the cooler full of kimchee out of the trunk. As people driving by were screaming “get away, it’s going to explode!” they rescued the kimchee to safety.

The car quickly became engulfed in flames, and just when I was thinking our grand vacation to Las Vegas was over, a fire-truck was coming towards us from the middle of nowhere. As the firefighters finally extinguish the car and start tightening up their water hoses, a tow truck appears. The tow truck has just enough room to fit all of us in the tow truck; even the cooler full of kimchee.

We’re towed back to Barstow and drop off the car at the towing service office. As we try to borrow a rental car, we’re dealt another challenge. The rental car office tells us that they cannot help us because they have no more cars available.
Every time we met a challenge, we all thought that our first and only family trip in the last 20 years was over. But my dad reassured us that we can still make it and that he’ll figure out a way. And that’s exactly what he did. A few seconds later, someone walked in to return a 4 door sedan. It was just what we needed. Miraculously, we’re back on the road in 2 hours from the start of the ordeal. We got to Las Vegas, had a blast, and of course we enjoyed the kimchee too.