Farewell to My Daddy: A Rock Star! A Writer. A Role Model.
The Rock Star
In College I told a friend about my dad’s “Rock Show.”
My friend replied, “What? You’re dad’s in a band? He’s so cool!”
“No, not a rock show with rock music, but a show with stones, viewing stones.” Apparently, that was still cool; so we went and enjoyed a more mellow kind of show, one with peace and God’s beauty at the center.
These stones (or Soo Suk) filled our home, lined our walls, stairs and bathroom. Even our last name “Suk” means “stone” in Korean. God gave my dad a fitting name. And in turn, my dad gave my eldest son, his middle name – Ian “Stone” Wang. Even my email is stonemama@gmail.
And like a rock, my dad was strong, carved by God and one of a kind. His passion was to discover stones that told a story… of war and peace, a story of strength and vulnerability, and sometimes a simple story of a dancer…which brings me to his love for words.
My daddy, the writer, the poet, not only admired beauty in nature, but he deeply appreciated the simplicity and profound nature of words.
He has probably penned over a hundred poems. And though they seem simplistic at first, they are pregnant with meaning. That’s really hard to do! The collection of poems could easily be made into a book, but he didn’t care about the result as much as the process of creating.
And that creative literary spirit was passed down to me. Nature and words spoke to his soul. It was his way of connecting with God, like it is for me. I now realize that the things he valued, I learned to value from him.
The Role Model
My daddy was my role model:
He loved fun. He loved God’s creation. He loved animals. He loved people. He loved life. He loved Jesus.
He loved well.
Sometimes he took fun to an extreme. Once he was playing a game called “Bloody Knuckles” where one person punches his fist against another’s fist until someone gives up. (Kids, don’t try this at home!) My dad played this silly game with a co-worker half his age and ended up breaking his hand, literally fracturing it. Okay, this is not good role model behavior, but what I did get from it (besides, don’t play “bloody knuckles” with someone bigger and stronger”) was that even when you’re 50 (or 70 or 90), you can still enjoy playing silly games! (Only remember, safety first!)
He had no desire to accumulate wealth or power, but rather, he valued experience and beauty far more. He spent his money on trips and on people, instead of on stuff. (He’s been to Death Valley nearly 30 times and took people on tours at least half the time.)
But even more than the rocks I painfully stubbed my toes against, or more than the poems that are sadly lost in translation because my Korean is lacking, or more than the silly guy who would joke with perfect strangers, I remember my daddy as the one who taught me to enjoy life, to not take things too seriously, and to be giving. He would say, “you learn by doing, so let’s go…” camping, hiking or into some new adventure.
As a grandfather, my dad found a way to slip money and gifts into every meeting with my kids. And we saw him a couple times every week! At one point, my youngest exclaimed, “Harabugee is RICH!”
Yes, indeed, he was rich. We didn’t live in a grand home, but we were rich!
Socrates said, “He is richest who is content with the least, for content is the wealth of nature.” My daddy’s genuine appreciation for the simple and small things in life made him wealthier than kings.
When I think of my dad, I think of the classic children’s book, “The Giving Tree” By Shel Silverstein. This tree gave it’s leaves, apples, branches even it’s whole trunk to the one she loved. And in the end, though my dad didn’t say much, he kept giving, just like this tree. Let me read the ending to this story…
“I don’t need very much now,” said the boy,
“just a quiet place to sit and rest. I am very tired.”
“Well,” said the tree, straightening herself up as much as she could,
“well, an old stump is good for sitting and resting. Come, Boy, sit down. Sit down and rest.”
And the boy did. And the tree was happy…
And my dad was happy.
My daddy was my tree, my rock… a steady support. When he looked at me, his eyes sparkled with pride. I knew he was proud of me and that has made me stronger, too. His support has made me who I am today.
Thank you, daddy, for teaching me how to live well. I miss you. But I am excited you are in the best place ever – with all the people you haven’t seen in so long, a place of immense beauty and an eternal story to tell.
You are gone from here, but your legacy lives on in me, in your grandchildren and in all the people who were fortunate enough to meet you.
I love you. Though it hurts to not have you here anymore, I know I will see you again!