My dad always worked with his hands. He never worked a day sitting behind a desk when he was living in America. That’s what he always wanted for me, to be a part of the corporate workforce, but he was always a laborer.
He and my mother owned a stereotypical fruit and vegetable store, and then later sold the family business so my mother could stay home with me aka spy on me over-protectively. My dad was quickly hired in the wholesale industry at Hunts Point Market in the Bronx where he was a foreman. He was then the only Korean foreman in a world where older generations of Italian and Jewish men ranked highest, and owned the terminals their family names were branded on. My dad had balls of steel and he never let English being his second language stop him from anything, least of all becoming a Teamster.
He learned Spanish too while adjusting to immigrant life in Lower Manhattan, and when he switched from being a business owner to being someone’s employee, it was a shift for our entire family. The trucks coming in to the NYC Produce Terminal Market in Hunts Point mostly came in at night, when most of the city was trying to sleep in a city that never did.
So my dad reversed his biological clock and switched to nights. My mother bore the brunt, no longer having him to share a bed with at night. After my dad got home from work in the mornings, he’d shower and eat breakfast with my brother Danny and my mom and me. He’d sleep while Danny and I were at school. I guess that’s when my parents got their sex in too, because I never once in my life heard them having actual sex when I was ever home. Danny will confirm the same.
I did find my parents’ stash of porn at some point and I knew they did that stuff together, because I asked my momz as an adult, but I never actually heard my parents having sex growing up. I count it as a blessing.
And by the time my brother and I got home from school, my dad was out of hibernation and an active part of our afternoon and early evening. On days Danny and I were home for whatever reason, we had to play quietly in the living room so my dad could get in his sleep. I didn’t mind at all because it meant I couldn’t practice piano, and my mother nagged at me constantly to practice. Danny and I were always quiet.
Then my dad would get up and take us somewhere or watch a movie with us, and we’d eat dinner all of us together in the evening before my dad left for work all over again. He and my mother always kissed goodbye right in front of me and my brother, right smack on the lips really loud, and there was never one day they didn’t. I loved watching them kiss. I couldn’t wait to grow up one day and kiss my husband every day when he was off to work.
I try to emulate my mother in that way but I come up short many times. There are days my husband Davy leaves for work and I don’t kiss him goodbye because we’re fighting. I respect so much how my parents kept it together every time.
I wish my dad was still around today, for my mother.