Minty Musings: Remembering My Dad

My father passed away almost ten years ago. There is not a day I don’t think of him. Today, I thought “I’m turning into my dad.”

I’ve had this thought before. Usually it’s related to restaurant service. My father emigrated to the United States in the early 70s. He was a not like his studious siblings who went to universities. My father fell into the restaurant business, an industry he probably never thought about. It was just a job back then, something to do while he dreamed of a better life. Somewhere along the way he never left the industry.

We went out to eat many times a week. We had our favorites but my dad loved checking out new restaurants. Sounds familiar? My mother and brother aren’t very adventurous eaters and so my dad and I naturally were always on the same team. We liked trying new cuisines and new restaurants. If the restaurant was a Chinese restaurant, we generally had a table within minutes, even when it was packed. Everyone knew my father.

When I was 14 or 15, my mother suggested I go work at my dad’s restaurant. He was horrified. No daughter of his was going to work in a restaurant. Even at home, if he caught me in the kitchen, he busted in and started cooking for me. It’s strange now to think how I ever learned to cook since I wasn’t really allowed to do more than make a sandwich or heat up leftovers.

Today I thought about my dad because I wondered how he would react to the blog. I’ve always been artistic and a writer, just like my father. He was a talented artist and wrote for a newspaper back in Hong Kong. But it was difficult to make money from writing and I know he had many odd jobs including working for the phone company repairing downed lines.

I have never thought about how much I am like my father until today. I once thrived as a near professional artist. Just when I was getting to be well-known in my area of interest, I realized I couldn’t actually make a living from it. I still love art and I know I can easily pick up where I left off. I still “art it up” and it’s fun again. Perhaps this is what my dad had to give up. His love of illustration and painting was set aside when he married and had a family.

He worked long hours but on his days off, he was very social. He is the one who taught me how to grocery shop. Sadly, I think of the day he died. He had just finished grocery shopping, put the groceries away in the trunk of his car and then had a heart attack in the car. People walking by saw the car jerk forward and called 911. He died a few hours later. My mother had the car towed home the next day and solemnly told me I should cook a meal with the groceries that hadn’t gone bad. It would have been what my father wanted.

The next few years were hard. I learned to cook then. At first, I made the things I grew up eating like pork chops and Chinese greens. But I never mastered pork chops. Oh, I cook them well enough but they aren’t the same– they weren’t my dad’s pork chops. I developed my own style.

I think my father would have liked the blog. We spent many hours talking about food, restaurants and other things (my father loved fashion and he was the one I’d go shopping with). He probably wouldn’t like all the drinking though. He didn’t drink, not that he didn’t have his vices. Booze just wasn’t one of them.

A few years ago, I got scared I was going to get sick and die young like my father. He had his first stroke when he wasn’t even 40 yet. The doctors told him it was his lifestyle. He was a heavy smoker, ate rich foods and didn’t exercise. He used to play soccer at the local park with his restaurant buddies but that wasn’t regular enough exercise. After he recovered, he lost use of his left arm and never worked in a restaurant again. He never quit smoking and although we cut out sodium as much as possible, our meals weren’t really that different.

Five years ago, I went on a health spree and lost a lot of weight. Then I started this blog a year and half ago and much to my dismay, some a lot of weight has crept back on. I’m bit afraid to go to the doctor. I’ve always had low cholesterol but I’m almost certain eating foie gras has changed those numbers. I’ve been saying for about six months now I really need to go back to the gym and try to find a balance. I love my lifestyle but I think I love life more.

Live to eat or eat to live?

I didn’t write this post for Father’s day though it is this weekend, nor my dad’s birthday or even the anniversary of his death. I wrote this because I think of him every day and I miss him.

My dad was a stubborn man who raised a stubborn daughter who didn’t give up so easily. We both did things well because that’s the only way to do it. I’m pretty much tired of hearing myself talk about all the things I want to do. It’s time to be accountable. I’m hoping that by writing down some of goals and fears, I actually will do the things I’ve been saying I need to do.

There are mainly two things; getting healthy again and dating. I actually don’t think it’s hard to  meet people. It’s just hard to keep dating. When was the last time I had a second date? I think it’s hard to date in LA because we have a lot of choices. There could be someone “better” around the corner. I rather be going out with friends instead of those painful interrogations aka first dates.

So, what is this post really about?

Welcome to the next Minty chapter. You’ll see a post creep up now and then about dating. Who knew I had so many followers who really want to know why dating in LA sucks– or doesn’t. Tomorrow, I eat oatmeal for breakfast instead of leftovers. Tomorrow, I’ll go to the gym (yes, really!). And maybe I’ll start dating again…next week (oh god, why did I sign up for speed dating?).  Balance.

Happy Father’s Day, everyone. For those who still have their dad, I envy you. And for those who don’t, I’ll be thinking of you on Sunday.