I flew out to see Daddy when his doctor called me after his prostate cancer surgery two weeks ago. Still in the recovery period, the day before I was leaving for home, he asked me to take him to see the Golden Gate Bridge. “I have never been there before.” He said enthusiastically.
“Dad, but you live here for more than 15 years.” I said with a little annoy as I was negotiating in the heavy afternoon traffic.
“Oh.” Dad immediately went quiet from chatty. I instantly regretted for having said that. It was such an auto-reflection on my part to rebut him, venting my anger. It has been a habit for me to rebut him very single opportunity I got. His silence made me feeling guilt. But this precise feeling had in turn made me even angrier. Now he’s so weak and old. As a daughter, I constantly worry about him, eventually he is my responsibility. But on the same token, a daughter who never had a father, the worry and anger had congealed and became deeply repugnant to me. I felt very resentful to the fact that I worry about him.
Few moments had passed, I let the anger subside. Thinking he is getting older and weaker, I felt an urge to reach out to him. My right hand left the wheel, trying to touch his arm. But the nagging anger forced my hand made a detour, ended up fussing with my hair, and then went back to the stirring wheel. A simple “I didn’t mean it, Dad” would have smoothed out the deadly silence now dominating the small car. But I said nothing. It was such a wired moment for me, sitting so close to my father yet feeling we were still an ocean apart.
I parked the car at the foot of the bridge, and went out side.
“Dad, it’s really windy.” I worried about his health.
There isn’t actually anything to see but a busy roadway for the Bay commuters.
“Oh, it’s ok. I can handle it.” And he led the way up the bridge.
I followed him.
After moments of hesitation, I caught up with him and hold his right arm as support. I kept my eyes out to the seemingly peaceful ocean. His right arm tighten a little and he used his left hand lightly padded my arm. Neither of us said a word as we reached the top of the bridge. The wind began to howl. We both face the ocean. River of cars were flowing behind us, trying to get to their destinations, most likely their homes.
Dad never provided me with a home.
For all my existence, we only spent a few months living together as a family. It was in 1977. It was like a hell to me.
As if Dad was thinking about the same because he put his hand on my shoulder and said,
“Ningning, I knew it was hard for you to live with your Aunties, especially the Second Aunt in Tianjin but .. ” he trailed off.
Golden Gate Bridge is really nothing special, any one of the bridges that crosses the East River in New York could compete with it, except the length. Standing on the Golden Gate Bridge, I feel small, open. If the wind was any stronger, it would have scope me up and blow me away. I was dying to hear this, for all those years. Now when it came, I found myself afraid to hear it.
Only a moment or two ago, at the foot of the bridge, I thought the ocean was tranquil but now I could see the currents forging forward furiously. My thoughts was in a turmoil. The past came at me like the currents, angrily and feverishly. My tears were pouring down like a broken dam. No Dad, you are not suppose to apologize.