A story of a dad’s sacrifice and his unwavering determination in raising his kids the right way
My paternal grandma was born and raised in Hong Kong. She lived through the second world war. During the war, life was difficult — food scarce, tensions high, aerial bombings by plane with guerrilla gunfire happening at any place, any time, my grandma and others like her fought to survive, seeking shelter after shelter, running away from not only soldiers but gangs who would invade house after house each night looking for valuables.
The war eventually ended. My grandma, by luck, survived, but everyone she knew didn’t. She began working hard, despite the grief and eventually found success as a real estate agent.
Fast forward three decades, and my grandmother is now living in one of Hong Kong’s more prestigious areas. She’s married with 9 children and stays in a spectacular flat on the 18th floor of her building, surrounded by a stunning view of the mountainscape. The real estate industry was good to her and she became a real estate developer with a dozen properties under her name.
Fast forward another few decades and she finds herself in the hospital. She’s been diagnosed with a Stage 2 Lung Cancer. Fearing for the worst, she makes a promise, a vow to her faith; if she survives her surgery, she’ll become a devout buddhist and eat vegetarian for the rest of her life. I remember being there, at the hospital during the surgery. My mom and dad, my brother and I had flown last minute from US to Hong Kong to give support. The rest of the family, my paternal aunts and uncles were also there.
Fast forward another two decades and my grandma celebrates her 92nd birthday. That was her very last birthday. I remember my dad crying, trying to hold back his tears as he received the call in the middle of the night. He left the very next day on a flight to Hong Kong to deal with the funeral processions.
A few months after the funeral, my grandmother’s will was revealed; the inheritance split. My grandma ended up donating the majority of her assets, tens of millions, to the buddhist temples she had regularly frequented in the past. The rest of her money, she split between my aunt and uncles; my dad had been excluded from the inheritance. She had written him a letter, that spoke of his betrayal to her; she had blamed him for immigrating to the US and not allowing my brother and I, her grandsons to live in Hong Kong instead. She had been manipulated, influenced by my dad’s very own brothers and sisters who had been fighting for a greater share of the inheritance. After years of listening to rumors and gossip from them of how my dad supposedly thought she was a bad influence on us, the reason she assumed was why he had insisted on making a living in the states, she cut him from the will.
I remember my dad crying after he read that letter. I asked him if it was because of the inheritance.
He stopped crying, looked at me straight in the eye and said:
I’m not crying because of the inheritance. I’m crying because she thought I had betrayed her. She lived her very last moments believing in a lie, holding onto anger and mistrust, surrounded by a “family” who slanders one another.
The inheritance doesn’t matter. The money doesn’t matter.
The opportunities Mom and I have given you by bringing you to the US will be forever greater than the money gained from the inheritance- it’ll all have been worth it if you can attend a good college. Money lost can be earned again, but your upbringing, your childhood? That’s forever. The reason why you are who you are today is because of the upbringing we were able to give you here in the states. And for that, I’ll never regret it, inheritance or not.
And that’s why my dad will always be my hero. Always and forever.