The Good Daughter
Last week, I helped my dad mark an item off his bucket list: Pearl Harbor. As a former P.O.W and army guy, my father’s interest in Pearl Harbor was quite unique. He has read so many books and articles about it, it was as if he was giving me the tour and history lesson for the start of U.S involvement into WWII. But as an old man, his recollections were constantly repeated. His memory has started to fade but not at an alarming rate; just a natural aging process. When he forgets something, he just moves on. I did, too. It wasn’t worth trying to jog his memory. I’ve only heard the stories 5x before.
I spent 4 days with my dad to take him out of his monotony. I thought I was being a good daughter. For years he has been wanting to see Pearl Harbor but has no one to travel with. He visited Hawaii many times but never Pearl Harbor. So, I closed my office to take him. At the airport, my dad saw my older sister with her kids heading to Honolulu as well. We were all surprised as she didn’t tell anybody she was going there. It stung my dad gently because she didn’t invite him, whereas, he nudged me to take him. In my culture, the oldest takes care of the parents, not the middle child. But since my parents are divorced, my dad got me by default. My uncle has always told him he got the better daughter. My dad never confirmed it. He was just happy to get one child to care for him. Even his surgeon told him he was lucky to have me. He just smiled and nodded in politeness, like he would even if the surgeon was to tell him he will lose a leg tomorrow. “Thank you, doctor.”
In Waikiki, his patience shortened with the rising temperature. I thought it was his low blood sugar as we were standing in a food court surrounded by restaurants and he complained about being hungry. But his HbA1c is 4.4. After 3 years of prodding me to take him to Pearl Harbor, a 5.5 hours flight, 15 minutes of air turbulence, 5 hours of interrupted sleep the night before, and an hour on public transportation, he spent all of 30 minutes there. The last 20 minutes were spent touring the submarine, our only glimpse of Pearl Harbor. I felt like I was paying for my daughter’s music lesson, $1/min. But unlike the control I have over my daughter, I couldn’t make my dad practice more at Pearl Harbor. We skipped the main attraction because it required a ferry ride over the water under the sun. He was sparing my skin from the potential burn as it was delicate and soft. He did purchase that hat for me.
We picked up our luggage at the hotel, headed to the airport, changed our tickets to get an earlier flight to Maui, then boarded. My husband picked us up in a rental car. My father complained the ride from the airport to the condo was too long. He wished the restaurants were closer to the condo than the airport. Luckily for me, restaurants were just a short walk away. Wailea did not fail me, it had restaurants galore. But it failed my dad for it lacked a Vietnamese pho place.
At the luau, I advised my dad to take a little bit of all the food offerings just in case he doesn’t like something. He listened. He enjoyed the show. He even joined in on the hula lesson. By the end of the night, he wanted to purchase our souvenir picture. It was dark so he couldn’t really see the poor quality of the image. Not to mention, there were people in the background. So instead of $40, they offered to let us purchase the 5”x7” for only $30. I told him no. He said he could Photoshop the person out and enhance the quality of the picture. He heard of Photoshop; he has never used it.
By Sunday, I was happy to be back home, jetlagged and all. I didn’t have to carry anything but my own bags. I didn’t have to worry about ordering food that someone might not like. It was eat or starve. The little things of my everyday life were a joy to me. The irony of old age pouting is only funny after the facts. Even after all that, I don’t think I’ve gained any points with him. But I know he loves me in his own way; he wished me a happy birthday a whole week before the actual date. It just tells me he’s celebrating his second daughter for a week in his own way.
This weekend, I took my daughter to get her hair cut before orchestra overnight camp for a week. She had asked the lady to cut her long hair up to her underarm pit. That is a good 6 inches of hair to lose. With an agonizingly slow pace, her hair got shorter and shorter, creeping up to her shoulders. One stylist after another came in to fix the “thickness” of her hair. I can see the worries on my daughter’s face as she sees her hair going from an unwanted short hairstyle, into a long bob then medium bob. I raised my index finger to my lips to signal for her to stay calm. When it got to be a ridiculous fight over which side is longer and an hour later, I walked over to the third stylist and told her I just want to take my daughter home. The first lady said the haircut was free as it was so much shorter than what my daughter had asked for. Four inches shorter to be precise, 10 inches cut off overall.
As I walked towards the door, I laid my money on their countertop and left. I paid for the haircut and left a tip. It wasn’t for their (lack of) skill, but they tried. Incompetency still needs to be paid. I put my hand on my daughter’s back to show support in public. The minute we sat in the car, tears flowed and my heart ached for her. She kept it together for so long and when it was safe to let go, she did. I gave my motherly speech but it didn’t work. Tears still came. When we arrived home, I told her to sit down again so I can try to fix it. After another 10 minutes, her hair line was much better. I continued my motherly speech of how beautiful she is, regardless of hairstyle. She stood up, defeated, and went to take a shower.
Luckily for us, she is leaving for camp soon to be with her friends. There she will be distracted with her peers and orchestra. There is no time to fuss over hair. I keep reminding her the hairstyle itself is not bad. The problem lies in its short length. But hair will grow again. When dinner came and went, she was already adapting to her new haircut. The smile was back on her face. She was talking away about her plans for camp. She is a lot better than I at that age with a horrible haircut. I remember being mad for days. I’m so glad in this society, my daughter is not obsessed over hair. I’m also glad she understands what we may not like at first can grow on us.
This picture was taken the day before her haircut. She had just came back from a company picnic trip with her uncle. She was showing me her hummingbird tattoo. Luckily, she believed my speech that she is beautiful regardless of hairstyle. I mean, seriously, look at those lips.