My Inspiration

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I have always been a “daddy’s princess.” When I was little, I would always run up to my dad and have him wrap his arms around me in a warm snuggle. Back then, I loved him because of how much love, care, and support he gave me. Now, I have come to see past the hugs and kisses and find that I have absentmindedly judged him, not as my father, but as a man in the world. As a child, I always carried the naïve idea that my father was just as normal as every American dad with a typical childhood: having no worries, coming from a well-to-do family, and enjoying sports or going to the movie theater. It was only when I overheard my dad talking to my grandma about what life used to be like, that I began to feel something was different about him. I had never really cared to ask much about his childhood, except for the trivial questions, such as “Did you ever get beat up? Did it hurt?” As I got older, he eventually started slipping accounts from his past. After hearing about the hardships he went through, with no one to show him the way out, and seeing what he has become today makes me proud to be his daughter.

From the start, I knew that he was born in Hong Kong and lived on the flat below my mom’s. I had always assumed he had enjoyed the same leisurely childhood as I did, although this was probably more of what he wanted, not had, as a child. He grew up with four other siblings and parents, who were just beginning to scrape up a new life after escaping from China in World War Two. His dad had started a small tailoring business and worked hard with his mom. The business was successful, but with five other mouths to feed, money was tight, along with the room-space. My dad was a layed-back kid, which didn’t match well with the rigorous classes in Hong Kong. He didn’t expect to be more than a taxi driver.

Then, the event that changed the course of my dad’s life abruptly occurred: my grandpa died. In a whirlwind of events, the business was closed and his family had packed their bags to head for the United States. My dad, barely sixteen, was the man of the family, since his older brother had died a few years before. My dad, who barely spoke English, had his life uprooted and began to plow into a new and better one. He was determined, like his own father, to work hard and improve his life. He studied much harder than when he was in Hong Kong, started earning money by working in a restaurant, and got his driver’s license. Life was unstable, but every night, my dad would say to himself “life will be better.” Pretty soon, engineering companies were looking into his resume with interest and suggested that he start working for them. My father earned a few scholarships and went of the University of Arizona, pursuing his passion: aerospace engineering.

A few years later, he had landed himself a steady job in Honeywell, got married, and had me and my sister. Over the years, I have seen my dad been awarded with bonuses and slowly making his way up through promotions. Over twenty-five years, he had risen from the rookie entering in data into a computer to a manager. He is a very intelligent man and knows how to lead, but above all, he is righteous and honest. I ask him about the tough situations he has to deal with at work, and this one stands out to me. His department inspects engines that are later sold to airports. He told me about the times when he had to go to work at night because the engines that were due to sell failed the inspection. Of course, every company has the profit in mind and a certain quota of products to pump out. He had to deal with the kinds of people who had this as their main priority. My father had a different priority: the safety of those who would be sitting in the aircraft that contained their engines. He refused to release engines that were faulty for the gain of green paper over the loss of lives. Time was ticking away, and with every second, the pressure was increasing. People were getting impatient and just wanted the job done. My dad, however, stood his ground. The tension was running high. Some were getting mad and started yelling at him. What he was able to do next marvels me. He got the team back on track, fixed the problem, and still made the deadline. Principally, what I admire most from my father from this situation is that he stood up for what was right, even when the pressure from time and the team tempted him to cave-in. When I asked him about it later, he stated that he would rather be fired than send out an engine that risked the lives of innocent men, women, and children. This is one of the reasons why I look up to him so much and constantly ask for his advice: he knows how to deal with people and values quality-work. He knows when it is best to ignore someone but speaks out at the right time. Either way, he is mentally tough. He is a bold, clever man, but also knows how to be kind and understanding.

I also admire my dad because he is extremely logical, realistic, and intelligent. He keeps his cool in tough situations and, instead of panicking, he thinks about what he can do to get out of it. He’s a fast thinker and problem solver, always has solutions for everything, and knows what his priorities are. It seems nothing can be too difficult for him. In my eyes, he is invincible.

The fact that my dad’s achievements were reaped through his own efforts inspires me. He figures things out for himself. Ask my family; there isn’t one thing in the house he cannot fix. Ask my dad how, and he’ll say: “It’s easy. I just read it out of a book.” He is also a creator. Ever since I can remember, he has constantly added tools and power machines in the garage. Now, it has turned into his complete woodworking workshop. He knows how to make what he needs too. He has made everything in that workshop from the two work benches and the steel clamp rack, which he welded, to his own invention: a dust-collection system to suck up the wood shavings he leaves behind.

As mentioned before, he can solve almost every problem and works hard to get to the reward. I always remember him saying: “Work hard, and you will be rewarded.” My dad took this mentality to heart in his recent project. When my uncle was in Vietnam, phone calls back to his family in Hong Kong were expensive, so he talked about how his life was going on tapes and sent them back to his dad. He passed away soon after, and, perhaps, for old times’ sake, my dad took out the old tapes to listen to his brother’s voice. Unfortunately, the tapes were very old, especially since no one has played them in about thirty years, and some were damaged. My ingenious dad researched how to fix the tapes, and little by little, he got them to work. I heard my uncle’s voice for the first time; he had a very pleasant laugh.

The final reason that I admire my dad is because he has faith in me and trusts me. He believes that I can accomplish what I am seeking and helps me along the way. He always tells me he loves me and that he knows I am a smart girl who can reach success with support and hard work. I hope to be like my dad one day. When I am at a rocky point in my day, I think about what my dad would do. He has always been my advisor and guide in life, the one he never had.

It is always said that your elders should be respected. Why? Because they happen to be born a generation before you? More importantly, my father has earned my respect and admiration for him, like he has always done in life.





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