My earliest impressions of my father are of him carrying me on our stroll in the community park, he was quietly humming to me trying to put me to sleep. I had a very safe feeling, at that time I was very content.
I was very chubby when I was little! My father used to be very content simply looking at those little dimples on my hands! (Yes, I had him around my little finger) He was kind of upset when I grew out of it. (Thank God!) My kindergarten friend asked me how I could understand what my father was saying. I felt funny, why not? My father has this distinctive Shandong accent, which is very dear to me. His students from Chi-Lin (a very remote countryside school) used to joke with him, “Sir, I have finally understood your accent now and it's time to graduate!”
Being a teacher himself, Father regularly checked my home work, sharpened my pencils, and instructed me on how to write a good composition. Of course he taught me how to write calligraphy very well, I even won a couple awards in my elementary days. (Alas! That's all my achievements in that area!).
My father also read us bedtime stories, he bought A thousand and One Arabian Nights, I was so in thrilled by those stories, especially # 3, and I had him read it over and over again and I'd imagine I was a little princess…. Father also bought me a sing along record (It was a big deal then), I must have played it to death and had been the neighborhood's super noisy star.
During our dinnertime, Father used to tell us stories about his home land; his earlier life in Shandong , some famous history, riddles and puzzles. We, the children were all absorbed by his tales. They were always interesting and educational. Such as “looking from Left side, its 31, looking at the right side, it's 13. View it together, it's 323!” What is this letter? I still remember the story of a son who told his father not to get rid of his stepmother even if she treated him badly. “This mom stays, only one suffered, there will be 3 children suffering if this mom is gone.” It showed he was thinking about his half brothers. And how the river that runs through his village is a branch of the Yellow River , my father told us he almost drowned trying to catch a fish! He also told us the story about the Locust disaster, and the famine that followed. The funniest is the basketball story of a Shandong governor, after watching a basketball game he commented “Grant some money and buy them each a ball so they won't fight over it!”
Sunday was the only day off in those days; it's a big day for the whole family. Father would sit me in the front seat, my sister on the back seat on his bike, my mom with my little brother in her back seat; we would ride to Confucius' Temple and played awhile, Father will tell us stories about Confucius, how he is from the same province, the way of Chinese culture and we should be very proud of our ancestry, afterward, we would visit my grandma & uncle's and have our Sunday lunch with them. Another big event on Sunday is when Father would make all those delicious buns, dumplings, and scallion pancakes….I was always eager to help and stayed underfoot until I got my own dough to manipulate. It is amazing how I successfully made my first scallion pancake abroad by simply recalling my childhood memory.
Father was always deeply in love with Calligraphy and seal carving. He is also very learned in ancient symbol characters. During a very casual setting he explained to us (me, my brother and neighbor kids) “A window is a hole (on the wall) where moon shines through” (How cool was that!) Father was also good at physical activities. I went with him to teacher's league volleyball tournament when I was 5 years old. I was their only cheerleader at the time. Father was very good on the net because of his height, his block & spike were great, and he also had a powerful serve. I picked up Father's serving style when I played volleyball in college, it turns out I was quite good at it!
I was in the same junior high with some of my father's students from Chi-Lin; they saw my last name and guessed who my father was. They all treated me with awe and respect due my father. Upon my son's first visit to Taiwan , he was only 2, he went out in Father's motorcycle to the market for breakfast; he came back and told me “Grandpa had a fight with someone in the market!” It turned out that one of Father's students was there and insists on paying for him, and of course they were pushing & pulling, ‘fighting' to pay for his purchase.
A couple times I went to market to do grocery shopping, I carried this little green basket with me. Most of the vendors called out to me, are you Mr. Mou's daughter? Come over, your father would like this piece of to-fu, fried bean curd….. There is hardly any man doing grocery shopping in those days, especially one that shops everyday carrying the same green basket I was holding. My father not only helps with house chores (shopping, cooking,) he does not drink, neither gambling, nor affairs. He is the perfect husbandly model.
Father follows traditional Chinese gentleman's conduct, his way is so subtle, his style essential, his strength is in himself. He is always there, so dependable and amiable. His teaching is in school, in everyday life and had great impact on everyone around him. I am so lucky and very grateful to have a Father like him.