My father, like Joe Tham—the struggling feng shui consultant in my Geomancer’s Apprentice series—read the newspaper all the time.
He was unassuming and reserved. He also was a pragmatist, prone to handing out advice that was, at times, inspired in its clarity and simplicity. A lot like Joe.
You may have guessed by now that Joe is largely based on my father.
Paps was what you would consider the typical Asian dad. He didn’t say much in general, which made what he said all the more important. He and I argued quite a bit when I was a teenager and a young adult, because we had different views. Despite that, he only questioned my choices in life a few times.
One of those times was when I dragged my heels over applying for jobs after I graduated from university. I told him I wanted work that was interesting. His response stays with me till this day.
It’s a job, he said. If you liked it so much, you would be paying them, and not the other way around.
After I got married and had a baby, we argued over my decision to stay home and take care of my newborn. You can't leave your job, he said. You have to work and build up your career. You must be able to support yourself.
He never told me he loved me in so many words, but I now realize, with a bit of maturity and perspective, that all those arguments were his way of saying that.
He was looking out for me. Although he was brought up with different values, he believed in women’s rights, especially mine. He wanted his daughter to go further than he himself, the principal of an elementary school, did. He thought I should reach for the stars.
He’s been gone for quite some time now. A heart attack took him.
Being my father’s daughter, I didn’t tell him very often that I loved him. Which may have been good, because that would have embarrassed him to no end.
But I should have showed him more often how much I loved him.