On Father’s Day

Food for Thought

As I looked up the location of the oden restaurant in Shibuya, I realized it’s not far from where my family used to live fifty years ago. I decided to walk there since I had an hour to kill before meeting my friend. To my surprise, it was still there but completely empty. It appears that I came just in time to see the end of it. It’s in a prime location; I would imagine that a shiny new apartment will replace it. The property is owned by Mitsubishi Electric, my dad’s employer.

When we lived there, my dad was at the top of his game. My mom said she hardly saw him because he worked late every night. He was promoted quickly every year but succumbed to the mounting stress and eventually collapsed due to a mysterious fever. Since then, my family has felt indebted to Mitsubishi because it paid his full salary for the next ten years even though he couldn’t work. He eventually returned and worked for ten more years.

His life was plagued by one mysterious illness after another. He had many close calls. His life would have been quite different if it weren’t for his ill health. It reminds me of how precious health is. Despite that, he sent me to a private high school in Tokyo and financed my college education in New York. Thanks to my mom, who shielded me from the struggles, I grew up relatively clueless about what was happening.

My dad took his responsibilities very seriously. It’s as though societal and family responsibilities were the meaning of his life. His sense of duty made him a rather boring father. I have few memories of playing with him, but no human can have everything. There is a flip side to every coin. Generally, fun people have a loose sense of responsibility because it’s not possible to have fun if we abide strictly by rules and logic. It is our selfishness that demands fun people to be responsible also, or responsible people to be fun. (You can complain if your father is boring AND irresponsible.)

My father is a responsible man; that’s who he is. After spending some quality time with him on this trip, I’ve finally come to accept it and appreciate him for what he is.