A few months ago, my cousin Superha surprised us by emailing a scan of an
old snapshot of my Dad, her Dad and my Mom from the 1980s taken at their old
home in El Monte. I cropped the photo so it would just be of my Dad, but
in the original photo, all 3 of them are looking off-camera at…
something… Since I couldn’t tell what they were looking at, I asked
Superha if she had any idea when the photo was taken, and she said, "We used
to have parties there all the time. This was that open porch area that my
father created between the main house and the garage that he turned into
their home office/master bedroom. We had backyard barbecues with my mom’s
famous marinated chicken drumsticks. Good times. I know my parents really
enjoyed the company of both your parents." Thanks to her for sending this
picture and reminding me of the family parties and barbecues our families
used to have together.
For the last five years, the 4th of July holiday has been difficult for me,
since my memories of losing Dad on July 2, are still so acute for me. I
remember talking to my brother about it a few years ago, telling him it
would be hard to enjoy Independence Day without Dad, knowing that it was
during that particular holiday weekend that he had passed away in 2006.
Even more difficult was the fact that Dad had been at a meeting at the
Taiwan Center discussing the path to Taiwanese independence with his friends
when he had his stroke/brain hemorrhage. For an naturalized U.S. citizen
like my father, the 4th of July was one of my Dad’s favorite holidays.
Although his love from his homeland never wavered, he was simultaneously
extremely patriotic to the United States and the meaning behind Independence
Day was never lost on him, considering his wish for Taiwan to someday become
an independent nation of its own. So maybe it’s not so strange that I have
a lot of memories of my family celebrating this particular holiday
together– maybe even more than I remember Thanksgivings or Christmases.
I remember that one of my Dad’s prized possessions was an old American
flag– which was so old that it still had only 48 stars on it. (I have no
idea how he got his hands on this!) Normally, my father had this flag
displayed inside his home office. When the neighbors began to decorate their
homes with US flags for the 4th, my Dad would get the ladder, get up on the
roof and bring the flag from inside to outside for a few days, covering much
of the front of the garage with the (48) stars and stripes. This flag was
huge– it was most certainly the largest one in the neighborhood– and my
Dad displayed the red, white, and blue proudly in front of our home for
Independence Day for many years.
I have vivid memories of our entire family lighting fireworks and sparklers
out in front of my Grandparents’ home. Some years, one of the uncles or
aunties would have a pool party or a BBQ for the 4th. One time, our family
took a road trip with several other Taiwanese American families to Lake
Tahoe for the holiday weekend– my Dad promised that we wouldn’t miss the
fireworks because of the trip– and we did indeed see them from the car when
we were driving home.
The last 4th of July our family celebrated together, Dad, Mom, Bro, Yoshi &
I went out to watch the firework display by Disneyland from the 5 Freeway
overpass at Harbor & Ball. We had to stand outside for almost an hour to
stake out our space on that crowded overpass, but it was so worth it. We
were so close to where they set off the fireworks that we were covered with
ash by the time the show was over. It was loud, thrilling and an incredible
amount of fun.
This year, Mom, my brother & I are spending the 4th apart since Mom is still
in Taiwan, Bro is in So Cal, and I’m up in NorCal with Yoshi’s family. But
I know that we are all together via our thoughts of Dad as we celebrate
Independence Day independently. (Paradox much?)
From last year (2010):
From two years ago (2009):
Due to popular request, this is my signature: (-_-) Did someone blink?