An open letter to my late dad

(With beers we could have had.)

This is a simple letter I felt like writing to my late dad. I feel like I’ve been writing contrived pieces just to please others, but today I write for myself.

So here we go:

Hey Pa, You died of ALS 10 years ago. That fucked up disease ravaged your body, turning you from a healthy man to somebody who could barely speak, walk or even dress himself.

You passed on in your sleep. I remember it was during the 2006 World Cup. You watched your last match and then took your last breath in the middle of the night.

It’s funny how diseases of the world, the deadly ones give us signs to prepare for people to die, but you’ll never be fully prepared anyway. It just doesn’t work like that.

When you went, it took all of us by shock. Ma literally had to wake up and realize you were still, too still and too cold.

She informed brother first, who then told me right after I got of the shower, in my boxers. I just got back from work then. It was really early in the morning.

That said, my last words to you were, “Bye Pa. I’m going to work” and you struggled a, “Bye” out of your mouth. I knew you had difficulty even with that. You were simply laying in bed starring into blank space with your mouth gaped opened.

How fucked up was that? My last words to you.

Know what else is fucked up? Pretty much the next ten years since you went.

Sometimes I wonder why I even cried so hard during your wake. We weren’t even close. Yet, I remember how painful it was. So many of us in this world grow up thinking that the bad shit you read in the news would never happen to you. But then it did to me, and I realized how real life really, really is.

I guess I had to grow up overnight and learn that life was truly that short.

Sometimes I am really mad at you. You were an angry, grouchy kind of father. Oh, you weren’t abusive or anything, but you were that typical aloof, Asian dad who didn’t talk much about feelings and stuff.

And then mom told me I am you. Exactly like you.

And then I felt it. In fact, I’ve been feeling it for the past ten years. The anger. The anger issues are really fucked up.

Why… did you give it to me?

I’m seeing a therapist for fuck’s sake.

But I guess I can’t blame you, though you know, it would have been nice if you were just there to talk more and not just punish me for every little thing.

I asked mom once, “Do you think we could have gotten along if he was still around?”

I really wonder about that.

Sometimes I think we wouldn’t. We would be two angry hot heads. I obeyed and feared you while growing up. I can just imagine losing my shit one day and taking it out on you.

But then again, I am you. I can imagine us bro-ing out over beers while I tell you about my life, my dreams, my goals, my exploits with girls and what I really love in life.

Maybe then, I could have finally said I love you without feeling awkward.

Who really knows eh?

I really wish you and mom actually told us that you had ALS. You guys kept it from us so we wouldn’t have to worry. It was fucking bizarre and worrying to see you degenerate like that!

I’d have told you so many things.

But I guess this letter would have to do for now.

With love, your son,

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1 comment

  1. Traci-lee - October 18, 2016 10:09 pm

    Wow, I lost my Mom to cancer 26 yrs ago. I too was heading out the door to work a mid night shift and the last thing I said was good bye, actually zI repeated it several times but she just looked at me, I figured she was just having a hard time breathing( lung, brain and breast cancer). We all knew how sick she was, but as you say you can’t prepare, it hits you like a rock upside the head when it does happen, you think there is still time. When I got home the next morning the ambulance was there and they were carrying the gurney out without her. My bother was sitting on the front steps crying and I knew. Talk about grow up over night. It was just my Mom and brothers, noone else. I was just 20 and living at home. Life gets real really fast then. My Mom was also the quite type when it comes to emotion’s, maybe because she thought she had to always be strong being a single Mom, maybe it was the age in which she was raised, or the people who raised her. Whatever the reason, she was closed off. Unfortunately, there was so much left unsaid, that hurts the most probably. I am a Mom now, my boys know and hear every day how much I love them, we are open and honest about everything. I took lessons from her, I remember her strength in fighting her illness, in raising us alone, working hard,etc. also what not to do. Weird thing is, this year I turned the age she was when she passed. She has been gone longer than she was with me. Some days I still cry as if it was yesterday,even after all these years, but it is a part of life and it truly teaches you to live for the moment as much as possible, cherish those still with you and to not sweat the small stuff because in the end, it isn’t that important.It won’t matter in a year from now, 10 years from now and even less when Im gone. Love is what truly matters, do those you leave behind have memories that are good, do they know how much they were truly loved and valued? That’s what I want my kids to carry.


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