A letter to my dad on his first birthday without him

It’s been almost 9 months since I lost my dad

And I can’t help but miss him. Tomorrow is his birthday and is the first year I can’t say happy birthday to him.

No lie – dad was simple. He didn’t ask for much or care for fancy things. Probably because he never had the luxury to enjoy them growing up.

When I think about it, my dad grew up poor and without his dad. Money was a struggle. I still remember stories of my dad working under the table construction jobs when he was only 8.

And now I finally get why he called us “spoiled” whenever I complained or acted bratty. It was his way of telling us things could always be worse and to be grateful for what we had.

After all I never had to work under the table jobs, like he did, and I was lucky enough to grow with a dad. Also my parents worked damn hard to make sure we never had to worry about money – or at least they did a good job hiding it.

The one thing I’ll always take from dad was this

Always be grateful for the smaller things in life.

It’s easy to get caught up about how bad you have it, but just remember happiness comes within. All it takes is appreciating even the smallest things in life.

It didn’t matter what I did or didn’t do for his birthday. Whether it was a bag of chips or cooking a steak meal for him (I was a horrible cook), dad was always happy.

And the truth is not everything with my dad was perfect.

Actually it was far from it. We spent majority of our time fighting.

But at least I had a dad growing up. And at least I had the chance to fix our relationship before it was too late. Some people never get that chance.

Last year on our family vacation to Bermuda, dad told me he was proud of me – no matter what I did. It was the first time he told me and actually meant it. And at the hospital – my dad actually believed and supported my path to leave pharmacy and become an entrepreneur instead.

How many people EVER get the chance to hear that… especially from an Asian parent?

I guess the thing is what I REALLY want to say is…

I miss you dad.

The other day I was going through your voicemails and I found this…

 

Sometimes it’s still hard for me to accept that you’re gone. As much as I want to say “always be grateful for the smaller things in life” or “at least I had a dad growing up”, it still hurts knowing you’re not here anymore.

And it hurts even more that growing up without you. Because the truth is you won’t be there at my wedding or see your grandchildren. And I’ll never get used to feeling of an empty seat at our family dinner table.

What I really want to say is I miss you dad. It hurts so much realizing that I’ll never be able to wish you happy birthday in person again. All I can do is remember you on your birthday.

So what I’m really trying to say is…. happy birthday Dad.

Love your proud son,

Kevin Yee

PS… Let’s be real – Asian parents suck at communicating and expressing love, but it doesn’t mean that people can’t change. It’s never too late to change your relationship.

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One thought on “A letter to my dad on his first birthday without him

  • September 20, 2018 at 6:41 pm
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    I think I’ve read this about more than 5times and listening to that voicemail over and over again. Ur dad loved & still loves u so much. Even though he didn’t know how to show it so much & u guys had so many problems, that love is always there. It’s great that u rekindled with ur dad before everything happened. U r always loved, don’t forget that. Ur an amazing person that is doing great things in life. Very proud of u!
    -Always Koala

    Reply

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