For the past 27 years I’ve been making mistakes, learning from them (occasionally), and generally doing the same thing over again. I’ve expressed my opinion, spoken the truth even when a lie would’ve been so much easier for all parties involved, caught a liar, listened to unspoken words, understood a person by listening, tried my best to be honest, fair, loyal, reasonable and forgiving, and pressured others on occasion to the same. And, of course, I’ve also done the opposite of all the aforementioned, maybe more often than not.
When I look at what I am, who I am, my failures and how I’ve dealt with them, my successes and what I’ve learned from them, I can’t help but see my parents’ involvement in each and every part of this. For this, I am, was and always will be grateful. For them, I am writing this letter. A thank you — nay, a thank you.
Today, thirteen thousand, five hundred and fourteen days ago, my parents said “I do” to each other, perhaps not even realising fully the power those two words would have (or, one, or, five, depending on what words they actually chose to say. Contrary to what age my “old soul” may indicate, I wasn’t around to witness this in-person just yet). Thirty seven years together, on this very day. In a way, a number that is hard to fathom for someone who’s been wobbling about only two-thirds of this time they’ve lived, yelled, laughed and held hands together.
And, yes, five children. They’re surprisingly Christian, for people who are not Christian.
I’ve seen my parents get through many a thing. Some things simply devastating, others slowly and methodically tried to break them, hurt them deeply, wound them. But they’ve gotten through it all, and then some. Whenever I feel down, weak, hopeless or simply awful, I reminisce, think about the many moments they must’ve felt the same or, probably, worse, and how they got through. Their strength and perseverance, their hope, and their thirty seven years of togetherness have given me the strength to carry on, to find hope where at times I thought none existed. They are, without a shadow of a doubt, my role models and my pride.
I’ve been living in Korea for nearly five years now. The day I left Holland I felt very similar to my father who, at a young age, did the same thing when he left for New Zealand by boat. six months on a boat, and six more months actually in New Zealand later, he was on his way back, to where my mom was. His and my journey started in similar ways, though they’ve since gone rather different routes. I’ve managed to find a girl half-way across the globe who somehow has some very striking similarities with my mother (I CANNOT ESCAPE YOU LEAVE ME ALO– ahem, pardon.), and I am here, being more and more like my father in a country filled with people who would very much prefer I wasn’t.
And that, as they say, is the beauty of life. The growing similarities between you and your parents, the growing realisations that while, yes, you are more similar, you too are very much not the same just yet. Next time I’ll do better, dad.
I love you, mom and dad. Happy thirty seventh anniversary.
- Your proud and lucky to have you as parents middle son.