“I want you to take me to try something I’ve never tried before.”
Those were the words of my pops (in Korean) when asked where he wanted to dine in honor of himself this Father’s Day.
Nice. He also mentioned this decree was inspired by my adventurous spirit when it comes to trying new (and weird) foods. Double nice.
I chose Kentro Greek Kitchen, one of my favorite restaurants in the Fullerton area. I had them get seated while I ordered up front and went to town selecting several dishes that I thought might be a good introduction to Greek food (dolmades, keftedes, calamari, wild rice, etc.). I also got him a glass of cab (personally selected by me after a taste-test aka an excuse for free alcohol).
When the food came out, it was such a pleasure for me to see their reactions, both good and bad – the dolmades were definitely not a hit hahah. I was glad I got to order them a new experience.
Then, as our plates began to be taken away, I steered the conversation to a place one could only arrive at deliberately.
“So fam, what’s one thing we’re grateful for about Dad?”
A bit of silence crept in and I laughed. We don’t really think about these things every day, or at all. The brother was quiet and thoughtful, my mom laughed a little uncomfortably as if it was below her to think of something, my dad just sat there with a smile.
Since I had laid down the gangplank, it was only fair I take the first step. I shared that I loved our conversations and how we could connect as two intellects with questions and ideas about life, rather than father and daughter navigating the complexities of our relationship and history. After that, it got easier; Jed, the brother, shared his bit (I would love to share but I feel like that’s his story to articulate in his own blog – if you’re reading this, Jed, get on it hahaha jkjk).
If you know me at all, I really dig into things. I don’t mind taking conversations to places that are usually avoided and iffy – until it makes the other person uncomfortable and then I’ll back off – no problem. So that’s what I did.
My next question was, “What is one thing we desire from Dad?” Again, I started it off, the brave soul that I am. My response was related to my earlier answer – I wanted to get to know him more as my dad, to be open with each other. I really just wanted to know him. Then my brother went (again, hopefully he can one day share on his own canvas) and my mom also. And my dad was quiet taking it all in.
I asked a couple other questions but ultimately, in my opinion, they were overshadowed by the sheer existence and actuality of the conversation happening in the first place. The simple presence of our family together having shared a meal and now sharing hearts and experiences was so much more gratifying than the answers to the questions. In that emptying restaurant, we eased into a place that I had never before seen ourselves in. And we did it like pros (although there was a little scuffle between the Mom and Dad at one point hahah). My dad graciously received our feedback and thoughtfully responded to each person. I think we all needed to give him a chance to express that side more.
We had entered the restaurant as foreigners (to an extent) to each other and departed speaking a common tongue. I have to say, I think my dad got more than he expected this Father’s Day – we all did.
Life is crazy. Crazy beautiful, crazy unexpected, crazy, just crazy.
If you’re wondering why I’m posting about Father’s Day 1.5 weeks down the line, I had started this post and just… chilled on it until now haha. I thought this was a draft I didn’t want to delete.