A Brief History Before My Time

This is a story about a Hero.

He was born in a construction-worker family with 7 siblings, in China. When he was a teenager, the Cultural Revolution was still continuing. He became one of the members of the Youth Red Guards and traveled to some rural areas in Hainan Island for labor work. And hence, he never got a chance to finish high school.

Finally the Cultural Revolution ended. He had a bigger dream. He wanted a better future. Back then, Hong Kong was still a developing city in need of large number of people to work in factories. He heard about the "touch-based" immigration policy- as long as you arrived at the city district without getting caught at the border, you would be awarded the permanent residency by the government.

Perhaps he caught a glimpse of his future of what he may become. So he planned-the logistics, the food supply, team support etc. It was not easy to leave China that time. The local residents were rewarded if they caught anyone with an attempt to flee the country. He was caught once, luckily he was released. He knew that he had to perfect his plan. It had to be flawless. Or else, he might end up in prison for many years. (That would be another Prison Break story.)

He hid in the forest for a few weeks. (Better than the adventure in Survivor) He waited and waited until the opportunity showed up. Finally he walked many miles to the border of China and swam for a few hours to reach the Hong Kong border. His siblings had also tried to imitate his dangerous act but none succeeded.

Just like any other immigrants, he traded his old identity to a new identity. He wanted to improve himself, so he went to a night-school for English classes. His English teacher gave him an English name, Michael which he's still using it today. He didn't finish the entire English course because he was working at some odd jobs with odd shifts at that time. It seemed that making a living was more primal than knowing how to say "How are you?" or "I beg your pardon."

He worked as a truck driver, a garment factory worker, and a sales guy for jade (gemstones) before. His brother-in-law offered him a job as a cab-driver. He refused the offer. He had a bigger dream; he wanted to have his own business.

Perhaps, "once an entrepreneur, always an entrepreneur". Over the years, he started a car dealership, a fashion boutique, a red wine store (10 years ago, red wine was still too new for China to accept), owned a cab and an auto shop to fix used-cars. He was also behind the scene of building a panda museum, negotiating a direct cargo flight between US and China, bringing in a US pharmaceutical company to China and also working on a debt-repackaging deal of a hotel.

Some of his business ventures were very successful, some of them failed quite miserably. At one time, he owned 4 houses, some acres of land and his brother and sister worked for him. However, for the last 10 years, he had not been making any money at all due to some poor business decisions and bad business partnerships. To finance his business ventures, he sold all of his assets. Now, he didn’t have anything, even his 12-year-old car was stolen recently. Three days ago, he fell down from a bike and was sent to the ER. Fortunately, he only had to stay in the hospital for one day.

He once told me, “When he first came to this city, he came here with nothing. Thirty years later, he had nothing again. But this time, he had love and support from his wife and three children.”

“Money can be made today and lost tomorrow. Yet, only love prevails. When you have the power, you must help and give to the needed. Learn to share, because you want to be surrounded with people you love when you are successful.”

I know the story of my hero sounds quite depressing. But on a positive note, “it is surmounting difficulties that make heroes.” Today, my dad is still hopeful and working hard on a few of his start-up projects. He believed that if he tried hard enough, miracle things would happen. He taught me when life hits you hard; you still have to show up to face the adversary.

Since Chinese tends to internalize their emotions and this is something I’ve never told my dad, “Dad, now that I have the power, I must help you.”


Christen said...

that would have been good for my paper... Y is so motivated to show her dad that she can do it. or something along those lines.
Thanks again for helping me out.
Have a Christmas Y!!

Zero said...

Your dad’s finically may be at zero, but he is your “hero” because he shows you love. Love is the best inheritance you can get from your father. This “wealth” will be the “currency” for you to overcome many tough times in life. Money never really solves life problems; it may able to delay the problem; to buy you some times before you face up the problem. Eventually, it is the strength from love that helps you to overcome the problems.
There were times that I was tempted to be the “hero” to help my friends and family who were in troubles. Most of the times the problems seemed to be money issues, but if I looked deeper, the roots were always something else. Over the years, I learned that I didn’t have the power to help them to solve their problems even if I wanted to. They need to have the will from within to get out from their problems.
Yes, it is easy to give money away and hope the problem will go away. Unfortunately, money seldom buy happiness or happy ending; the act of giving money away may help you feel less guilty of your love one’s misfortune.
Money is only a tool, it depends how you use it. If you feel providing your parents finically will help, be generous. By giving, it will be an act of love. However, don’t forget that money is not what your father counts on; your love for him is what he is counting on.

yync said...


Speaking of your paper, can you send me a copy too? I would love to see what you wrote about me!!

Merry Christmas, Christen!

yync said...


Thank you for your 2cents. Thanks for sharing, I really appreciate it. What you wrote was DEEP, and I need to sit down and think it over.

Happy Holidays!


Teresa said...

Dear Y,

Thanks for sharing the story, it has always been a pleasure to know the stories behing the bloggers. You have told the story of your dad and express your gratitude in a efficient and touching way.

merry christmas.


yync said...

Just a footnote about my dad's story- that day, I was taking a sick day from work. While sitting in front of the computer, I just suddenly had the inspiration to write the entire story down. Perhaps it's a self-reflection that I owed it to myself for so long. My dad's situation in life has been bothering me for a while now. And I guess I can finally put everything into perspective when I wrote them down. (I was thinking of writing a story for my mom as well. I didn't finish it because the inspiration came to me at 3am and I was too tired to wake up to jot everything down ;))

Rosamund said...

That was a really touching story and interesting glimpse into your family history.