A beloved figure of childhood whose significance in my life was that I learned as he did in mine. His love provided safety and a mantle of optimism that no one else could. I learned so much in his company that I’ll forever treasure those memories.
My father was never married, and I never asked him how he met his wife. I learned that life is about risk and position. I saw how women could make their marriages work, even if they were young and beautiful; how in practical times they could compete with their husbands on every level and never make a mistake. He taught me how he adored women and how deeply he felt a man’s love. I treasure two things that he taught me:
1. Don’t try to fix it if it doesn’t work and
2. satisfying his every need and why would you want to stop him.
His letters to his wife tell of thoughtful moments together, tactful and loving. He attributed to her the same sense of humour he used in his LifeGuard, or Indian boy, days. The letters were written as he talked to her about various subjects, mastering his vocabulary or speaking in Indian, although he was born and raised in the South. He saw himself as more than a provider, a customer, or an entrepreneur, for he saw others as his closest friends and confidants. He taught me to be a daddy who sleeps when he’s tired and who cruised in style and luxury, looking forward to the season of Indians, passing time in a way he never knew.
His daughter, a charming, little Indian princess, taught me so much about how a clever woman could please, how a woman could compete with the most exceptional men. She taught me to use humour with my wife and never be disrespectful of her love. I learned to leave things out of the discussion and to be strong enough to take care of myself and give 100 percent to my family.
I learned that even though one had gone through life’s satisfaction running each enterprise, one still had to be an accomplice to a cause greater, in an ideal world, than their own. The secretaries were so practised on the details of lurid tales adding piquant to my mother tongue, but what was I to marvel at? I had a strong sense of justice that I never lost sight of what had been, what was now or what would be next.
As my father adored his family and doted the kids, he always lived a clean, uncomplicated, gallant life. He reported a perfect marriage to his wife, as did his stepchildren. They married young, yet were responsible and vital in their marriages. They stayed out late at night, drank hard, were often rowdy and often published long articles writing great critical editorials about common problems of the day and winning particular television contests. I was proud to say that the Americans in the House of Representatives listened to my father, but I couldn’t help feeling that behind him was a young ten-year-old boy, alone and lost in a world about himself.
I married when I was little at age twenty-two and we had three children, two sons and a daughter. With each child we travelled; visiting parental relatives, enthusiastic fans, frequent sporting events. Our family vacation took us to Hawaii where my father was raised, first to Pearl Harbor, then to Kuching, Malaysia, and finally to the beach on the island of HALFRED, one of the island’s resorts. During the years my father was gone, a whole world of connection had grown and grown. How could father be there to see us through such unhappy times? What was really going on in our lives? Was our relationship as important as his? Was he the father that our children said he was?
Seeing my own children grow into successful adults who are thoughtful, trusting people, I feel proud to have lived long enough to be a witness to such a process that I don’t know any person who does this. The usual observance of the two sabbaths he went on to spend in the observance of family service, to give time to his wife and children and to demonstrate that a cultivated person could have children and be a mother and a wife. That we could believe that people who had touched our lives could have human traits that we graciously would not have believed. That we would see the greatest geniuses of the future involved at our weddings.
I feel proud to have learned from my father that agency was in need of new members and my father’s methods of working the agency, and they did. As a result, he went on to facilitate the next fourteen years of successful agencies in the area. Today, agencies fill the needs of many people who really want to advance in the field of social work, and often that includes children.