When Dad Is Old – Presence Harmonious Family Series
My dad is a traditional Chinese guy. He was a hardworking breadwinner, who worked for long hours without any complaints and is mindful of how he lives, and by all means, is a good man. However, as his children, we all enjoyed the time he was not home. Since he worked long hours, we hardly saw him, and when we did see him, the only thing he did was criticize and rebuke us, as he did not know how to communicate with us. When my dad was home, we all stiffened up or just hid in our rooms. Since a young age, I have always envied others with nice dads; the journals in my teen years were full of grumblings about my dad, and I only wanted to push him away, not pull him toward me.
Fast forward to my wedding day, where my husband and I took a moment to thank our parents for raising us during the ceremony. I saw my dad sitting offstage, listening with tears running down his face. It was the first time I saw the emotional side of my dad and it melted my heart! Because of this simple, sincere expression of gratitude, my dad and I were pulled closer to each other, despite a drifting relationship for more than 20 years.
After I got married, I moved out and put some distance between myself and my parents, resulting in less conflicts between us. Also, now that I have my own children, I have a better understanding of my parents’ struggles; I am learning how to get along with my dad. My dad is a family man, and he enjoys having members of our family around. Because of that, my other siblings and I tried our best to take turns opening our homes for weekly family gatherings to show our love toward our parents. My dad held fast to traditional culture and paid respect to his ancestors diligently, so no one ever imagined that he would let go of the ancestors’ shrine at home and become a Christian in his old age, just because he wanted to go to heaven with us. Though my dad didn’t receive Christ for the right reason, it surely reflected the weight of us to him. I frequently try to keep him company, check up on him, chat with him, and listen to him. Since my dad likes using his cell phone, he learned how to use WeChat in no time and began to share his heart in his messages. We also use it as a channel to boldly share some thoughts that are hard to share face to face. Here is an example of our WeChat conversation:
Since my dad’s health has been declining, his spirit has been as well, and what happened in the past also makes him sad. Not only do I pray for his health, but I also pray harder for his heart; I pray that by God’s mercy, my dad can truly believe in Christ and experience freedom in Him, let go of his burdens, and break away from his bondage. I also pray for God’s help, wisdom, love, and patience in interacting and communicating with my dad, and to be there for him as he finishes the remainder of his life.
Editor: Interpersonal relationships consist of a push-pull dynamic, especially when it comes to relationships with family members and people close to us. Though we all desire a harmonious relationship and to be closer to each other, it is inevitable that some hurtful experiences, although unintentional, cause rifts in these relationships. The story shared here demonstrates that perfect people and relationships are rare. However, through love, sincerity, and accompaniment, we can still be drawn closer to each other because “love covers over all wrongs” (Proverbs 10:12b) – both their wrongs and ours.
Written by: Wai Sum (pen name)
*The author is a participant of the Presence Life Planning Curriculum Certification Course. The article is part of her reflection during the study. Author retains copyright and grants Presence and Presence Hong Kong the right of publication.
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