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Things My Father Taught Me

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Fathers teach their children many things, of course, but many of the most important lessons come when a good man is just being a good father. Alice Chan has this Perspective.

I’m three, sitting on the stairs in the dawn light. I’m holding a blue mug with a white rim, still warm from the coffee it just held. The name ‘Raymond’ is engraved in jaunty script. I’m salvaging the coffee-soaked sugar from the bottom with a spoon.

Raymond is my dad, who had just left for work. I never wanted him to leave. I would stay up late, refusing to go to bed until he had kissed me goodnight. He was a hospital doctor with an erratic schedule, so I’d have to wait a long time.

My dad taught me how to wait for someone you love.

I’m five years old and I love examining my mum’s make-up collection. I’m alone in their bedroom. I open up pots and tubes. I look at them closely, taking in their delicate fragrance. I don’t dare try them.


I twist open a navy blue container and POOF! Out spills sparkly face powder that dusts everything inside the bag. I hear footsteps on the stairs and before I know it, my dad is there. I’m terrified that I’m going to get into trouble.

But no. He tries to clean up and promises he won’t tell. He keeps his word. Twenty-five years later he recounts this story for the first time at my wedding, solving a mystery that had long-puzzled my mum.

My dad taught me that sometimes it’s okay to cover for people you love when they make honest mistakes.

We’d often have a big family roast for Sunday lunch. As a surgeon, my dad considered himself a master carver. He prizes the crispy skin of a roasted chicken, the crunchy crackling on pork, and the delicious fat that embraces a sirloin of beef. Not all my siblings share these passions, but I do. He extends these delights to me on the end of a fork and finally, hands me the string that held the roast together so I can savor every last bit of flavor.

My dad taught me to love what many reject, and that there’s even something where most people see nothing.

My dad taught me these things, and so much more.

With a Perspective, I’m Alice Chan.

Alice chan runs a marketing business and lives in Petaluma with her son. Her father passed
Away last month.

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