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My Father, P.E. Fung – Photo taken during a hunting trip in Guyana

Our fathers are rarely everything we would like them to be. Many of them focus all of their energies on their work to provide us with a safe home, a good education, and all the stuff that makes us happy. Many others turn their backs on us while we are still young, leaving us to be raised by our mothers or other relatives. Some of them, like my father, are emotionally challenged: unable to express their love for us.

My father seemed to like spending time with his friends more than he did with me and my four siblings. He and his many friends went fishing; shooting birds; and hunting deer, wild pig, and wild cow (tapir). As the “cook-man” among his friends, he prepared and cooked the wild meat killed during their weekend hunting trips. “Cook-night” was party night in our back yard.

In our home, my father enforced the rules of good conduct.  At a time when corporal punishment was acceptable behavior, he did not spare the rod and spoil the child, as he believed. We feared him for the licks he meted out.

After leaving home at eighteen, I learned over time to forgive my father for the shortcomings that negatively impacted our lives. With parenthood came my perception of the difficulties he must have faced to father five children during turbulent and uncertain times in our country’s history. I realized that, given his circumstances and shortcomings, he did the best that he could as a father to direct us along the right path.

Reflecting on my life with my father with an open heart, I learned to appreciate all that I had inherited from him: a love of books and reading, music, and the natural world. (I do not know from which side of the family I inherited my talent for drawing and painting.) My fascination for international trade was also his gift to me. As I mentioned in an earlier post, my father was an import clerk. He was responsible for preparing the mustard-yellow customs forms (sometimes done by hand at our dining room table), taking care of bank import documents, and clearing the goods at the port.

Eleven years ago, my father died alone in his home in Georgetown, Guyana. We had all left him for distant shores. (I was the last to leave Guyana.) But, despite his stormy marriage, he never abandoned us. I would like to believe that staying with us was his way of demonstrating his love for us.

No matter how old we get, the influence of our fathers in our lives, for good or for bad, remains with us. This Father’s Day, I prefer to remember the good times I spent with my father and to think of him with love in my heart.

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