Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Heaven Has A New Star Chef: In Loving Memory Of My Father

After a fifteen month-long battle with pancreatic cancer, my father recently passed away. I wrote my Dad a letter regarding love that I read aloud at his funeral service, and I'd like to share it with all of my readers...

Dear Dad,

I remember a day years ago when I was growing up and you and I had gotten into an argument. I don't remember how the argument had started or even what we had argued about, but I do remember that in a fit of anger, I had asked you why you weren't loving like other dads. I told you that I resented the fact that I got more lectures than hugs and kisses from you and that you never called me "honey" or "sweetheart" or "princess" and that because of that, I did not feel loved. I also remember that you were very hurt and angered by what I had said. Though it's more than 20 years after the fact, I still want to apologize for ever saying that. I'm sorry Dad--I was young and naive, and most of all, I was wrong.

For over the years, I learned through you that I didn't need to be called "honey" or "sweetheart" or "princess" because those are merely words! I know that you were never the touchy-feely, huggy-kissy type; in fact, more often than not, you had quite a serious demeanor and fiery spirit. But through your efforts to teach your children what's right--hence, the lectures--and through the constant selfless sacrifices you made for your family, you showed me what the true definition of love really is. You taught me that it's not what you say, but instead what you do for your loved ones that counts. You were the ultimate embodiment of the phrase "actions speak louder than words" and for that, Dad, you are the most loving man I have ever known.

Dad, one of your greatest passions was food, and it was often through food that you showed your love. You always planned ahead to make sure you fed me my favorite dishes when I came home to visit. I could have just bought myself a little something for lunch at the office cafeteria on days where I went straight to work from flying back from home, but you always made a special stop in Oakland Chinatown on the way to the airport to buy me a bahn mi sandwich just so I could have something better to eat. And because I'm your daughter, you always kept a watchful eye over all of my boyfriends, but despite the suspect comments, you showed your acceptance in your own way. Never did you say to me "I like him--he's a nice guy"; instead, you'd ask, "What does he like to eat?" or "Does he eat this?" and then cook accordingly.

So that I would have a taste of home away from home, you always packed more of my favorite home-cooked foods into to-go containers to take back with me to LA. Sometimes you even drove the food down to LA yourself, spending a few quality hours with your daughter and then turning around to deliver food to [my brother] in Davis on the same day! I know, there were times when we were a little less appreciative--when we'd trade our home-cooked Chinese food for pizza or when we would joke with our cousins about tossing those to-go boxes out the car window on the way back to school. But we always knew that no other dad would have done such an act of love for his children, and we savored everything you cooked for us.

I will miss you Dad; I will miss your cooking and most of all, I will miss your love. But I am comforted by the fact that you are in a better place and that we will see each other again. Until then, I know that because you've affected so many people so much with your love, there will be enough love to last for generations to come.

I love you Dad.


It's not like I've been around much recently anyways, but I just wanted to officially say that I'll be taking a little bit of time off from food blogging to catch up on some personal things. Don't you worry, though...I promise that I will be back in full force with a husband, a clear mind, and a full stomach. Look for new posts in the fall, maybe earlier if I find the time.

And please, if you haven't already read
the post I wrote back in November when I had taken time off to be with my Dad, I urge you to do so. It means alot to me, and I hope it will mean alot to you as well.

I wish all of you and your loved ones the very best.


Christine D. said...

Pam, I'm so sorry to hear about your dad. He sounds like a very awesome father, and i know that he would have loved your letter. It was so beautiful!

Everything you said in that letter hits me close to home because that's how my dad is. He's not very emotional but he shows his love through food too. Gosh, and there are so many times that i took him for granted or got into arguments that i can't even remember about.

Your letter's going to make a lot of people reflect upon their own relationships. I know i am! Thank you for sharing it with us.

Anonymous said...

I've never commented before, but am moved to say I'm sorry. I'm sure you have no idea just how many people appreciate your writing. Personally, I think this is the best food blog going.

Take all the time you need - we'll still be here when you come back.

- B

Anonymous said...

dear Pam
I am sorry to hear about the pain you must have been going through, and thank you for taking the time to remind us to reflect on the important things in life.

elmomonster said...

Your letter touched me. Thank you for sharing with the world how much of great and loving man your father was.

I'm so sorry for your loss and I look forward to more posts from you when things settle down.

All the best Pam. My thoughts are with you and your family.

BoLA said...

Hi Pam,

Thank you for sharing with us and for opening up our hearts in the process as well. You are an amazing woman and from your letter, I know that you have an incredibly amazing father. My thoughts are with you and your family.


Doran said...

Pam, I'm sorry. I know it's been a long fight. Be well. Take care. Hurry back!

Anne said...

So sorry to hear about your father. I, too, can totally relate as my dad sounds very similar to your dad. Your post was so touching, and I hope you take care and know that we're all waiting to hear more of your foodie adventures!!

Anonymous said...

I've never posted before. I've read your blog for quite awhile. I just want to say I'm sincerely sorry about your dad's passing. I know when my dad past, I was devestated. I took comfort in knowing that he knew I loved him. I'm so lucky and so are you! You had a loving dad that not only look out for you, but gave you a passion for a common interest...food and cooking.
May God bless you and yours.

Anonymous said...

That was beautiful. My condolences. MEalcentric

Passionate Eater said...

Dearest Pam,

Thank you so much for sharing a beautiful part of your life with us: the story of your father. Not only does your story communiciate the kindness and love he had for his family and children, but it also helps me to reflect on my own relationship with my parents. It may be hard for you to believe, but your letter helped me to identify with my father's current struggle with cancer, and helped me to understand that like your father, he too communiciates love to me in a different, but wonderful way. Thank you for that.

A part of your father lives on in this blog, his love for food and his love for his family resonates in you and Daily Gluttony.

I send my deepest condolences and best wishes for your family during this painful time.

Take care friend,

Anonymous said...

Dear Pam,
We are so sorry about your father and we just want you to know we are here if you need us. Anytime, anywhere, anyplace, always.

On a lighter note Ginseng, aka "ratty ratty rat dog" (M's name for my Mom's dog - the bastard)is about to give birth.
M and the dog are BF.
We will send you pictures and you are welcome to come visit.

Much love and condolences.

e said...

i know that a lot of us asians with "non-emotional" dads have been touched by what you shared. Thanks for sharing such a personal and dear part of your experiences. My prayers are with you. looking forward to a new fall of blogging.

Monkey McWearingChaps said...


I am so sorry about your father. I look forward to reading your posts when you get back.


Anu (a lurker)

Anonymous said...

I've been lurking here as well. I don't live anywhere near LA...I live in rural Wisconsin. I found your blog's link on another blog I was reading. I was bored and I clicked it on.
I've been checking back here ever since.
Not only do you know good eats, but you are hysterical as well! Seriously, you could really make a career out of your blog.
I'm extremely sorry about your dad. I lost my dad almost 7 years ago. I'm not Asian, I'm Polish. But, I think our cultures have the similiar "typical" ethnic dads. My dad was firm and strict. However, he did a lot for me to show me how he felt. I remember sometimes, he would yell at me to get ready to go to school so he could drop me off early. Every once in a while, he would suddenly announce that he had to be at work extra early. Then, he would pull into a pancake place or McDonald's and we would sit and talk and have breakfast. We didn't talk talk about much, but he would slip in a compliment. "I saw that you did great on your English test." Then, he would give me a lecture on how important school is.
Those breakfast conversations were some of my treasured memories.
Food was an important part of our culture as well. Food = love. Even in college, my parents would visit occasionally or my dad would send me a check. "Here's pizza money, kiddo!"
And no matter how wierd my family got, whoever was fighting with whomever...there was always hands available to make the Christmas and Easter pierogi. It would take two complete days to make hundreds and hundreds of those filled dumpling pockets. We would make sauerkraut, mashed potato and bacon and cream cheese and mushroom...boil them and freeze them...and then fry them in butter and salt for the holidays.
I was the youngest of my family. And everyone was getting married or moving off, while I was in school. I got married after school, got a job and then had a baby. There were no more family holiday dinners with pierogis. Right after my oldest was born, we found out my dad had a massive heart attack. He lost 90% of his heart function. He was given 6 months to live. I decided that I was going to make pierogi for him for Christmas. I had to do it by myself and that took three days. It was supposed to be a surprise. But, for some reason, I felt compelled to call him. We were supposed to visit him on Saturday. I called him on Wednesday night and said, "Dad, I have a surprise for you!" He said, "Your pregnant!" I said "No!" LOL! He said, well it better be good then! I said, "I made you pierogis!" He was soooo happy! He said, "Where are they?" I told him they were in the freezer and he joked, "I can't smell them cooking in the freezer!" I told him that on Saturday I will bring him a ton of them and fry them for him. That was the last time I talked to my dad. He died the next day in his sleep. I did visit on Saturday, but it was at his wake. I put a pierogi in his pocket. That was my way of telling him how much I loved him.

Anonymous said...

the first time i read this it made me cry. the second time i read this, it made me cry. the third time i read this, it STILL made me cry!

this is a very beautiful letter and you are so lucky to have had such a wonderful dad. i know you will have your moments here and there when the pain of missing him will be overwhelming, however, i have to say that i truly admire your strength to have found peace when he passed. this strength you possess inspires me to want to become a better person.

again, if you ever need anything whether you just need to talk, vent, cry or whatever, you know where to find me!

miss you! love you!

susan said...

hi pam,

your letter is beautiful, touching and inspiring. i'm sorry for your loss.

Eddie Lin said...

Hi Pam,

I never know what to say in these situations. But I'm sorry for your loss and feel immense sorrow for you. And I also feel the terrible guilt that you expressed because my father is like yours - unexpressive, distant, unaffectionate. But my dad is still alive and I have time to tell him things.

After reading your letter, I may try to tell him things that I want him to know before it's too late though it may be really difficult because he and I aren't close. Like your relationship with your dad, the most emotion we showed one another was when we would argue and fight.

Thanks for letting us into a part of your life that you really didn't need to share. It's inspiring people in ways you never could imagine.

Maybe we'll see you soon.

Anonymous said...

I want to add my condolences as well. I am also an anonymous lurker who has enjoyed your writing for a while and wish you all the best.

Dani Spies said...

I am very sorry to hear about your father. For me, food is love too! I grew up in a family that oftened expressed their love through homecooked meals and tasty treats. I can really appreciate the connection you and your father shared through food and want to thankyou for sharing your beautiful letter. Be Well,

Anonymous said...

Hi Pam...

My sincerest condolences to you and your loved ones...He's no longer suffering, and is now in a better place. I wish all of you the best...


Anonymous said...

Dear Pam,

I'm sorry for the melodrama, but I'm fighting back the remaining tears from reading this latest entry of yours. I send my sincerest sympathies to you and your entire family. My father also expresses his love for my family through food and coooking. And honestly, I battle with the insecurity and fear of losing my father quite often because of family medical history and my father's own ailments, so I suppose that's why I related to your entry so personally.
I wish you well and a happy, restful, and peaceful hiatus. Look forward to your future entries! Thank you for sharing a piece of you with us, your readers/admirers.


Anonymous said...


Please accept my condolences for your loss. I also grew up in a family with the traditional yan fu ci mu (strict father warm mother) dynamic, and I understand what you mean completely. As the oldest son, I was always driven the hardest and disciplined the most by my father. It’s only looking back on my childhood from where I am now that I realize how much he did for me, and how much love he truly displayed. Losing a parent is unimaginable until it happens. I can only wish you and your family the best, and offer you the comfort of something my father told me when I was younger. “Our ancestors are always with us, watching over us and living through us.”

I hope to read more of your wonderful posts sometime in the future. They’ve been an inspiration for my own food blog, which I recently started.



Anonymous said...

Ohhh Pam, I'm soooo sorry. I just NOW read about your dad. My sincerest sympathies to you and your family...

Anonymous said...

I guess it's hard for me to show my sympathy for ur lost. I've started to read your blog because I was searching for ramen in van nuys. hope you will recover and start writing again. I'm hungry right now =P.