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I love you anyway, Dad… even if I don’t think you’re perfect

In West Virginia, July 1908, Grace Golden Clayton created the concept of honoring everything a father has done for his family.

This tradition was a tribute to all the fathers who died in the Monongah Mining Disaster, which happened in West Virginia on Dec 6, 1907. An explosion killed hundreds of workers, making it, at the time, the worst mining disaster in American history.

However, this idea did not spread.

Two years later, in June 1910, Spokane, Wash., the idea of Father’s Day was suggested again by Sonora Smart Dodd, to honor her own father, William Jackson Smart, who had raised her five siblings and herself on his own. She wanted to show her appreciation for his selflessness, determination and love for his children.

It is interesting that although Father’s Day was readily accepted in West Virginia, it was not widely accepted in the United States until 1972.

I wonder, do we ever truly think about what our father has done for us? How much he has contributed in our lives. My family was living in Kuala Lumpur when I was a baby.

Back then, my dad helped feed and bathe me, and tried desperately to rock me back to sleep at one in the morning. In many families, fathers did almost everything except maybe change baby’s diapers, often leaving that stinky chore to the mothers.

As my younger brother and I grew bigger, he continued to care for us, providing a home, food and clothing as well as forcing – I mean, giving us – the opportunity to go to school.

To all the students reading this, it may not seem like it now. But your dad is not trying to torture you, he’s trying to help you. He really does have your best interests at heart.

At home, as we entered our teen years, he put up with our grumbles and angst moments until he finally sat us down to have a serious talk or punished us. Either way, he tried to make us better persons rather than allowing us kids to turn into whiney, lazy brats or worse.

Then of course, there is the important lesson: ‘the value of a dollar’ or peso. Without that, many kids might have blissfully spent every peso in father’s wallet and never learnt how to budget hard-earned money.

Even when we left high school and entered university or the workplace, he continued to provide guidance.

I’m not saying that your father is perfect. To be honest, I don’t think my dad is perfect either.

There are times when I feel that my father is too stringent and other times I feel the opposite, he isn’t serious enough! He can be confusing and sometimes, I don’t really know what he is trying to say but I love the times when I do understand and can laugh with him (or at him).

There are times that I hate, like when he wants me to do something outside of my comfort zone and scolds me when I complain; or when he doesn’t understand I was only joking; or when he takes a very cynical point of view. But I also understand that that’s just the way he is. It doesn’t make me hate those moments less though.

There will be times when your father will seem controlling, stealing your choices and restricting your freedom. Or the times when he embarrasses you in front of your friends or scares away your boyfriend or takes away your new things proclaiming “it’s too dangerous.”

But despite all the negatives, he cared for you, got you to stand on your own two feet and influenced you to be who you are today. Whether that is good or bad remains to be seen.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad.

The author will be entering university as a freshman this school year. Home these days is Hong Kong. – Ed.

First published in Tulay Fortnightly, Chinese-Filipino Digest 24, nos. 1-2 (June 14-July 4, 2011): 10.