Because I love this lady.
Peter Tachauer photo
Today, I found out that my father passed away this past Sunday, alone in his rental in Hualien, Taiwan. I’ve come full circle today, and I’m here now writing because I don’t know what else to do with myself. I want to write a tribute to honor his memory, as this world - my world - has lost a great and honorable man. Those two words don’t do justice to who my father was.
My father, for reasons outside of his control, has been physically distanced from me over the past 11 years. We believe he may have had an undiagnosed case of schizophrenia, with signs surfacing well over a decade ago. Despite his condition, there is a great story to be told about a humble man whose warmth and kindness I still feel every day, after all this time. Whose wisdom I still call upon in my most difficult moments.
My father was the man who always stopped and rolled down his windows when he crossed paths with a homeless man in a cross-section pan-handling. And it wasn’t just a couple bucks he would lay out.
He taught me right from wrong, silly as it sounds. "The boy who cried wolf" - told it to me almost every weekend (heck, I thought it was a taiwanese fable), to make sure I would grow up honest.
I was reprimanded for crying in front of him because he said one should never cry unless there was a death in the family. We had to be strong, he said.
Don’t let this fool you into thinking he wasn’t a softy though.. he had a cocker spaniel companion in his early years in the US who he loved very much (my mom was the one who told me a little about their 'dog is a man's best friend' relationship).
"When I was your age, I woke up every morning at 4 am, took a cold shower, and walked barefoot into the town to sell candy before school" [he was probably 6 or 7 years old] His mother was almost 60 at the time, incredibly poor, and raising him and his sisters on her own. She passed away when he was very young. But he was diligent and made it to america and built a career as a brilliant engineer at IBM.
He was a dedicated learner (well past his years as a student), with stacks of books piled to the ceiling (quite literally). As an aside, he also wore the thickest glasses I had ever seen
But a bookworm, he was not. My father was a many-time marathon runner. Even up until when he could no longer pay his mortgage and electricity bills. He went out and ran another marathon.
"Health, happiness, family, and education" - every phone conversation we ever had ended with him reminding me of these four things. To run. To be happy. To work hard. And that he loved me. He stopped saying it in the most recent calls I received. Maybe he felt far removed because we hadn’t seen each other in all these years, but I feel no different. He was and always will be the greatest father in the world. I will always love him and have the utmost respect for the person he was, the life he lived.
I miss him, but I have faith that he’s in a better place now. Free of worries and noise. And I thank him for all the happiness he has given me.
“What day is it?”
It’s today,” squeaked Piglet.
My favorite day,” said Pooh.”
― A.A. Milne