by Kathleen Ferguson 范凯玲
父亲节快乐! Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads in the world!
Today I’m celebrating my dad, William T. White, in Chinese. A very warm and special thanks to Ou Yang Xi for translating my story, which was published in The New York Times “The Lives They Loved” in 2015.
As a kid, my favorite TV show was Superman. 5:30, Channel 11. With five minutes left in the show, I’d leave the house, walk through the park, and hop up on a concrete post across from the Valley Stream Long Island Railroad station just as the train from the city pulled in. As the passengers poured out of the train and down the stairs, I’d search the faces until I found him.
My dad! He’d greet me with a big hug, swing me off the post, and we’d walk home together hand in hand.
Dad was my Superman. The strong silent type with smiling Irish eyes, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. He was unpretentious, generous without self-promotion. He taught us the importance of family, how to save for retirement and change a flat tire.
Dad was born in 1920, and he and his brother were raised by their father and grandmother in New York City during the Depression. Grandpa was a chauffeur, so the family followed his employer to Saratoga each summer and returned to a different apartment, and often a different school, each fall. Somewhere along the line Dad was skipped two grades and entered high school when he was 12. He walked to school 10 miles in the winter in the snow with bare feet and hot potatoes in his pockets to keep his hands warm (or so he’d tell us). The experiences of his youth shaped the man he’d become.
Dad was a man of great faith who loved his family and adored my Mom. She was the center of his world. He met her at a party in 1949 when she bounded into the room and shouted “I’m here! Let the party begin!” He knew right away she was the one, and that night she told my grandmother “I met the man I’m going to marry.” This past May, Mom and Dad celebrated their 64th wedding anniversary.
On the evening of Oct. 4, 2015, Dad, like the well-organized accountant he was, closed out his 95th fiscal year in this world with three hours to spare. All T’s crossed and I’s dotted. Although our hearts are broken, we take comfort knowing he passed peacefully, surrounded by his family, in a room filled with love.