Dad Update

Dad had a routine 3-month MRI last Monday and it still looks cancer free. There are some side effects due to the surgery/chemo/radiation that show up on the scan but otherwise, no cancer. The oncologist reiterated to me again that my dad is beating a huge statistic. They predicted he would only live 1 year (true for over 90% of people in his situation) and it has been 2 years and 1 month.

I should be feeling incredibly grateful but this has been a hard week since my mom’s 5 year death anniversary was on Wednesday. No one said anything. My dad and brother didn’t mention anything (although I’m sure my brother remembered). My friends have forgotten and Terry doesn’t keep track of dates (dates are not his forte even though he tries to support me in any way possible). Dealing with a death becomes very much a process on your own. When my mom first passed away, tons of people flocked to my side. But something a friend told me has stuck with me throughout the years–it gets harder after a couple months, even years, when no one remembers what you’ve gone through. That is so true. I’m not going to hold people accountable to remembering when my mom passed away because everyone has their own crap to deal with. But I’ll just say that every holiday and milestone is difficult.

Ever since my last post about brain cancer and a comment I received: “It is unlike any other disease. To me, it is comparable to having dementia and cancer at the same time.” This has been more true lately as my dad has done a complete 180 from his I-don’t-need-you attitude. He has called me multiple times for help, he has given/cooked me food, and he looks extremely excited to see us. I wonder if he has just simply forgotten all that has happened in the past year. When I asked him why he’s asking us for help, he denied ever saying those hurtful things to us in the past and that we must have misunderstood. I am now realizing that it is easier for me to attribute his behavior to dementia than to psychoanalyze the meaning behind every action.  It’s so weird to grow up with a parent who is a certain way only to have an almost completely different parent later on.  But I guess they say the same thing about spouses?

Dad Update

Father’s Days Gifts for the Asian Dad

I don’t know about you but it’s extremely difficult to get my dad a gift for any occasion.  It’s not that he won’t willingly accept the gift but no matter how “useful” I think the gift is, it could potentially stay in the closet for forever.  Asian dads don’t like to be wasteful but keeping a gift in the closet without any use seems wasteful to me, don’t you think?

Here are some things we have gotten him that might work for your baba:

1. Uniqlo Jacket – Asians LOVE this store.  I think because it is fairly inexpensive, good quality, and the styles are simple.

uniqlo jacket

2. New messenger bag (or upgrade to any item your dad uses frequently) — The problem with buying my dad a replacement/upgraded item is that he loves to use the same thing no matter how janky it becomes.  My dad had been using his current messenger bag for over 20 years and it was falling apart at the seams and was barely zipping.  He continues to use that one and the new one is stored in the closet.  Looking back, I realize that the shape was important.  Contrary to the typical horizontally style messenger bag, he prefers the style below because it was easier to store his lunch box flat on the bottom.  So if you DO decide to upgrade one of your dad’s current items, make sure it is exactly what he wants and THAT much more better than the current item.  Actually, this Tumi Alpha Organizer Travel Tote may be a new contender.

messenger bag

3. Classic Sweaters (emphasis on CLASSIC) — Consists of 90% of his gifts.  These are foolproof and you really can’t go wrong with the sweaters you find at Macys.  We’ll switch it up though–zipper/no zipper, buttons/no buttons, different necklines…gotta keep things exciting.  No turtlenecks though.  I can’t go beyond the classic style because changing something my dad has been comfortable with would most certainly freak him out.


mens sweater


Dad: How do I button this? Is this hip hop?



Dad: Is this for your mom?



Dad: What happened to the rest of the pattern?  Why would I want to unbutton one sleeve only?

trendy mens sweater

4. Ipod Shuffle — This was the biggest splurge yet and a personal “success” for my brother and I.  My dad loved it because we pre-loaded all his Chinese music onto it and it was easy to use for someone who is 99% tech illiterate.  He goes walking everyday so this was a nice upgrade from his… cassette player.

ipod mini

5. Arometherapy neck pillows — If your dad is like mine, he is having aches and pains all over.  This pillow is from those mall kiosks; you are supposed to microwave it and it has a light aroma-therapeutic scent.  I’ve seen it used a couple times but I think he prefers the electric heat pad because it stays warmer, longer.


6. Handwritten card in Chinese — You can do translations on Babelfish and it will most likely come out sounding like a 5 year old wrote it but it will give him a good laugh.


7.  Duck tour (or anything toursity in your city) — Available in most major cities.  Asian dads, particularly mine, just loves experiences.  He spent so much of his time working the graveyard shift and only having weeknights off that he didn’t get to explore the place he has been living in for over 30 years.  There are so many touristy things to do in metropolitan areas that you should not run out of ideas for a long time.


8. Dim Sum (or any delicious meal together) – Going off of experiences, there’s quality time.  Although it sounds generic especially for you families who eat dim sum every month with your dad anyway, they love this because they love food.  They’ve spent all their lives providing materially for us that they end up not really wanting anything more practical than food.  Even if your family is dead silent at the meal, I bet your dad will still appreciate this.


Hope you found this helpful and happy early father’s day to all you babas out there!

Father’s Days Gifts for the Asian Dad

Brain Cancer Turned My Dad Into An A**Hole

Once upon a time, there was a 24 year old girl.  Her dad got diagnosed with cancer.  Her boyfriend proposed.  Six months of life left was her dad’s prognosis.  Instead of waiting to get married, they planned their wedding in 5 days.  Dad walked his little girl down the aisle.  He died two weeks later.  She got a tattoo of one of her and her dad’s favorite quotes in his handwriting to remember him by.

True story.

I heard it from a girl in yoga.

Thank goodness I wasn’t sitting near here because I wanted to both cry and yell at the same time.  Something along the lines of “You are so lucky to have that kind of relationship with your dad!!” to “Aren’t you lucky you don’t have an Asian dad?!”

You will recall my last post consisted of our pros and cons list on moving out.  But as of 4/4/14 (ominous, no?  In Chinese, 4 = death), we have officially decided to move out.  No turning back like we did before.  I won’t go into too many details but it started and ended with a conversation between Terry and my dad.  I chose not to be involved because I knew I wouldn’t be able to control my words.  Apparently my dad has a similar problem.

My dad has always been a stubborn man in the sense that he thinks he’s always right and will not believe a thing you say unless you say it at least 3-4 times with usually some proof or another person to back you up.  It could be a debate on the color of ketchup or how the universe works.  The conversation between Terry and my dad started out about certain bills but progressed into overall home repairs to why we are living there.  Every time we explain to my dad that we moved in to help take care of him, two of his favorite responses are “You didn’t even ask for my opinion before you moved into my house.  You just did it” and “You guys didn’t help me do anything.”  It’s one thing when someone says words clearly out of anger but he so nonchalantly INSISTS that he could have done everything on his own.  Driving to all the pre-op/post-op appointments, communicating with doctors post-surgery when he couldn’t say anything coherent, cooking for himself (he microwaved tiramisu), filling out his retirement documents, etc. etc… he says he could have either done them by himself or asked his friends.  It’s ironic because the day after this conversation, he expected me to drive him to two appointments.

Okay, so technically we didn’t ask him if we could move in.  We did it because 1) my dad had stage 4 brain cancer and 2) they estimated he would have at most a year to live.  Now that it has been two years cancer free, my dad has passed the mark that 97% of people with his cancer couldn’t.  But I can’t tell you how hurtful it is to readjust our life, our newlywed life, for almost two years taking care of him and for him to act like we did it out of our own self interests.  I don’t know what it is about this whole cancer experience that has changed him into this negative, awful person who says the most subtly malicious things.  Things that hurt DEEP, that I will never forget.

Sacrifice does not always result in recognition.  I know that.  Maybe when I become a parent, I will know that even more.  My dad has gone through a lot in his life and has done a lot for us.  But I feel that it’s unfair for him to continue to use his life experiences as a reason to treat us the way he does.  I will never be able to go through a cultural revolution in China, to immigrate to a country with little money and little understanding of the language, to work graveyard hours for 20+ years, to be the primary caregiver for an ill wife, and whatever else he likes to mention during our arguments… but I am doing my best here.  So we decided to move out asap, as soon as we can find a place that will accommodate Terry’s car child and my two dog children, in hopes that having space will make our relationship with my dad better.  It certainly can’t get any worse.

I’ve been really torn about sharing our family junk.  I know that on one hand, I need to honor my family and protect their image (whatever that means) but if my experience with this can be a second of comfort for another, then good.  My work is done here.

Brain Cancer Turned My Dad Into An A**Hole