Jun 20, 2010  •  In Personal, Relationships

How My Father Showed His Love for Me with a Carnival Game

My father and I aren’t particularly close, but we have a special bond — a bond that began on the day my sister was brought home from the hospital and remains to this day.

(Why the day my sister was brought home from the hospital? The story goes that I used to sleep right next to my mother every night until my sister was born. The day that my mother came home with a new human who would undoubtedly steal the majority of her affection, I promptly gathered my pillow and ran to my father’s side of the bed. I continued to sleep next to my father from that day forward, until my sister and I were afforded our own room.)

While I speak to my mother much more than my dad, my father and I have a special understanding. Because I can honestly say that he is one of the few people on this planet who gets me.

And at no other time was his love and empathy for his eldest daughter more apparent than about a decade ago, when my parents decided to visit a local carnival together.

My mother was visibly upset at me that summer night. I had changed my major for what seemed like the fifth time since entering college, setting my younger sister to graduate before me. I also had no clear plans for my future and seemed — to her — perfectly content to waste my time and my parents’ money.

My father suddenly stopped in his tracks. “See that game over there?” he asked her. It was a typical booth game where the players shoot water pistols into clowns’ mouths in order to have their balloon explode first.


image source

“Most people would try their best to win that game. They would shoot straight for the clown’s mouth with no regard to the other players. Jenny is different. Jenny would make sure that everyone’s water pistol is working, that all the balloons are properly attached, and that everyone is having fun…BEFORE she starts her own water pistol.

“She may be taking longer to finish school and find out what she wants to do with her life. But in the meantime, she’s doing tons of volunteer work, being a good friend to her peers, and helping us with the store. Jenny doesn’t care if she finishes first, because she has a good heart.”

This story, as told to me by my mother, brought tears to my eyes and still stirs deep feelings within me whenever I think back to it.

Long-time readers of this blog would know that my father suffers from chronic hepatitis B, a disease that affects 1 in 10 Asian Americans. While his condition has somewhat plateaued, our family is fully aware that this “silent killer” will eventually take his life. In the past year, my mother has noticed the signs of the disease having reached his brain — his short-term memory is not what it should be, and he has begun to have trouble with day-to-day functions such as simple arithmetic.

I now treasure each moment spent with my father more than ever. Even if he’s annoying the heck out of me. And I am overjoyed that he will be able to hold his first grandchild come this September or October. After all, he — not my mother nor J’s parents — had been campaigning for J and I to have children as soon as we got married.

My father was also the happiest of all my family members — including myself — when we found out that I was having a girl. As I stated previously in this blog, he has told me many times over that having two daughters has taught him to be a better man.

I know my father never checks this blog; he wouldn’t be able to understand the English even if he tried. But I want to tell him, publicly, here — I love you. Thank you for being my father, and thank you for everything you are.

Happy Father’s Day.


photo by Danny Weiss

12 Responses to “How My Father Showed His Love for Me with a Carnival Game”

  1. Ali:

    Your father sounds like a great man :)

  2. Douglas Drumond:

    In Brazil, father’s day is just in August, but you made me cry today.

  3. Geek in Heels:

    @Douglas — It really warmed my heart to know that this post touched you so! Thank you!

  4. Maya:

    This post made me cry too! Your father sounds like a wonderful man.

  5. Annnnnnnd I’m crying. At work. Your dad sounds like a loving, caring father. I’m sorry to hear about his health issues. I love that he was the one who wanted you two to have a baby, and that he was overjoyed to hear you are having a girl. That’s just such a blessing. Thank you for sharing this.

  6. Pam:

    This post touched me alot–reading about your dad reminds me of my own, whom i too share a special bond with, he just "gets" me. Sure, mom did all the rearing up and day to day chores for us, and I am so grateful for my mom who did all she did for us, but dads too have their role and do their part. my dad always knows just what to say to make me feel better in times when i needed a little pick me up or was down about something, while mom would make me feel worse by telling me something like this is my destiny/fate. i too am pregnant, 7 1/2 months along, and am looking forward to having him hold his granddaughter when she gets here. i’m sure your dad can’t wait to meet his granddaughter! thank you for sharing this post, on this wonderful father’s day!!

  7. This is such a beautiful post! And what a lovely wedding photo, too!

  8. It’s definitely so hard to see your hero getting older. What a beautiful post Jenny!

  9. What a great post – brought tears to my eyes – and only topped off by that beautiful photo at your wedding.

  10. Your dad is a lucky man to have a daughter like you. It’s so easy to see the special bond you have with him. I hope your dad had a wonderful father’s day.

  11. Geek in Heels:

    Thanks for all your kind comments, everyone! I hope you all had a great Father’s Day too!

  12. HamiHarri:

    What a beautiful post.

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