The guilt factor.

In a strange turn of events, my Dad has become the immediate family member geographically closest to me.

Normally, my Dad is abroad (in Taiwan) or when he is here in the U.S., he lives at the house I grew up in located in Orange County, where either my Bro or my Mom (or both) are living, too.

Well, Mom has been in Taiwan for several months and right around the time that I took off to Montreal, Bro took off to Taiwan, leaving Dad by himself in the OC house for the first time (I think ever).

This new configuration also leaves me the closest target for my Dad’s, um, Daddiness*? Normally, if Dad is around, my Mom and Bro are the default “buffers” for me from this since they are all stuck in the same house together and I’m not.

How do I describe this tactfully? Let’s just say that I love my Dad, but there’s more than one reason why I never moved back home after I left for college. Ok, to be fair, you can substitute “Mom” and “Bro” into that sentence as well, but that’s not the point.

So anyway, now that my Dad is at home alone, I think he is experiencing some weird empty nest syndrome. Ever since I got back from Montreal (actually this started around the time my Bro left for Taiwan when I was already in Montreal), my Dad has called me every. single. day… leaving me voicemails (often) multiple times of the day for no particular reason but him wanting to know where I am and what I’m doing.

I truly don’t mind talking to him, but to be quite honest, he has NEVER EVER called me with this frequency. All of a sudden, I feel like I’m off at my first year at college and my Dad is calling me every night to check up on me. And THAT’S the part that I find most annoying, is that he is calling just to check up on me. I am honestly very grateful that he is so concerned about me and my welfare, but still, I am not accustomed to this and I feel like I’m in some weird Twilight Zone episode. (Incidentally, Bro called me from Taiwan to tell me that two days after he left town, my Dad called Mom and Bro in Taiwan to complain about how I didn’t return his calls while I was in Montreal. So I had Mom and Bro nagging me from Taiwan to call my Dad so that he would stop calling them. Nice.)

I don’t even want to go into the fact that we hardly ever conversate** and that our phone calls sound like this:

(as with Ernie, stuff spoken in Mandarin is in italics)
Dad: Hello?
Joz: Hello?
Dad: Thanks for calling me back. I thought something happened to you, it’s been so long since I heard from you.
Joz: I just talked to you last night. Is something the matter?
Dad: No. What are you doing? Where are you? What did you do today? (he has a suspicious tone in his voice)
Joz: I’m at home (in the car/in the office). I’ve been working. I’m always working.
Dad: I didn’t hear from you all day, so I thought something might have happened to you.
Joz: I’m FINE, Dad.
Dad: (he asks again) What are you doing? Where are you? What did you do today? (he has a suspicious tone in his voice, AGAIN)
Joz: I already told you… I’m at home (in the car/in the office). I’ve been working. I’m always working.
Dad: Ok, call me more often. Otherwise, I don’t know if something happened to you. (his suspicious tone implies he knows I’m off doing something really horrible)
Joz: Ok, I hope you’re ok, too. Bye.
Dad: Don’t get arrested or anything.

What?! Anyway, I actually didn’t know until today that my Dad had left me some more messages over the past three days on my voicemail (weird delayed voicemail thing). When he called tonight (11:30pm), I called him right back to tell him I honestly wasn’t ignoring him and that I just didn’t know he had been leaving messages for me.

So tonight, he went into this whole tirade about how he worries about me all the time because I’m living in L.A. and how being a girl in L.A. is so dangerous. And how if I don’t call him every night how is he going to know what’s going on with me and that I’m okay? And how he knows that my nighttime minutes begin at 7pm, so that I should call him more often in the evening to “chat.”

Have I mentioned that I HAVEN’T LIVED AT HOME SINCE HIGH SCHOOL? That I’VE LIVED IN L.A. ALMOST THE ENTIRE TIME? That my Mom FINALLY stopped doing this to me a short while ago… and now my DAD is starting with it?!?!

And the kicker? He actually said to me, “I’m here at the house by myself now and what if I fell or something happened to me? If you don’t call, no one would even know it. So you’d better call me every night, just to make sure I’m ok.”

Wow, with that one statement, I felt the guilt of a thousand Asian mothers washing over me.

*Stop making fun of me. The problem with dictionaries is that they are just not up to date with the latest jozjozjoz lingo.

**See above footnote. Besides, I know the proper word is actually “converse” but it’s just not as much fun as “conversate.”

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8 Responses to “The guilt factor.”

  • I know the feeling. My girlfriend’s father calls up his mother everyday just to listen to her. Its not that he wants to call, but the answer is that old people want to have someone to listen to them. I get this all the time at work. After helping an elderly customer, they will often engage you in small talk. Lately, I’ve been getting that and a lot of times you learn a lot from these conversations. Sometimes, just being an ear for them is very healthy. So, call your dad already. ;)

  • Do you know Mom (89) still likes to “put me in my place” by telling the story of a policeman knocking at her door, looking for me for some random speeding ticket I ignored thirty-five years ago! You gotta love ’em.

  • jeez, dad needs a hobby or something.

  • Well, at least your dad isn’t like my dad…geez…

    AIM me already!

  • Hey J… don’t get arrested or anything, promise?!

  • Actually I was just conversating about this the other day. My family is planning to move across the country. Keeping in touch will be tough!

  • Wow, sounds like your Dad is having issues with his own mortality and is using your wellbeing as a cover (albeit a good one). I’d take it for what it is and just give him a quick call in the evening. Wash the guilt down the drain :)

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