My Dad recently celebrated his birthday (on July 27, the same day as my husband!) and August 8 is Taiwan’s fathers day because the Mandarin for 8 (八, bā) sounds the same as the informal Mandarin for father (爸爸, bàba). (Tangentially, many Chinese-speaking kids pronounce bàba like baba, with an unstressed first syllable. Apparently, this is the “cutesy” version of it, like saying “daddy” in English, which I did not find out until my Chinese teacher told me!) I’d like to take this opportunity to share a collage I made for the Father’s Day back in June that I think represents what an awesome dad my Dad is, using our house fat, er, cat DeeDee, as a stand-in for me and my brother Mike:

DeeDee is for Dad

I’ve learned so much from both my parents. Both my Mom and my Dad have a very strong work ethic. I remember my dad leaving to check out his job sites just after dawn and then not returning until after dinner time — and then doing drafting work on his blueprints well into the evening. I am totally lazy compared to my parents, but they always taught my brother and me the value of hard work.

My parents have always supported my hobbies and interests (heck, they paid the adoption fees for Catherine Jr.). I’ve been an avid bookworm since I learned to read in first grade and my Dad was always willing to take me to the library and book stores. He was always very generous with my book budget and because of that, I had constant access to a wide variety of reading material. By the time I was 9 or 10, my parents were also subscribing to magazines like Newsweek, Smithsonian and National Geographic and encouraging me to read them. I think being surrounded by so many different publications at such a young age directly influenced my decision to become a journalist.

I remember one morning during my junior year of high school. I was upset about something, but I didn’t want my parents to know because I thought it was embarrassing and tried to cover up the sound of my crying by running my hairdryer. But my Dad heard anyway and knocked on my door. He took one look at my face and said “why don’t you take the day off from school?” and patted me on the head. I’ve always remembered that because my parents, like so many others in our Taiwanese American community, took our schooling extremely seriously and they would not have let either of us stay home for any old reason. I’m sometimes not very good at reaching out to people, including my parents — but they have often reached out to me.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about how my parents influenced me since my wedding. I know it isn’t always easy to raise children in a culture that is very different from the one you grew up in. As Ron and I look toward having kids of our own, I hope that I will be able to give my children the same gifts my parents gave me. On the day of our wedding, I realized how lucky I am to be surrounded with such love in my life, first from my parents and then from a husband who I adore in turn. I’m getting so mushy that I’m going to make myself hurl, but I never take for granted how very, very lucky I am.

And speaking of my Mom and Dad and their relationships with fat, gray, furry creatures, here’s a photo of them feeding a squirrel shortly after their wedding.

Mom and Dad feeding a squirrel

I cannot possibly post all these photos of DeeDee without mentioning MeiMei, his younger sister, so here is a picture of my little angel cat at her finest:

Upside down cat

I wub moo, my snookums!