• Ting Zheng

Things I Wish I Told My Dad

My father passed away this October and as cliche as it is, there's not one day I haven't thought about him. He was the absolute most intelligent man I've ever known. So many of my childhood memories are around seeing my father scribbling down thoughts and numbers on scraps of paper or him being so focused yet on another massive textbook. He was a man that ran on coffee and cigarettes, and you would see either one of those vices in his hands at any time. Although his passing didn't come as a surprise suddenly, it was still hard to truly realize the impact of his death. Parkinson's disease is a real bitch and it was so unfortunate to see how this illness took away his nervous system.

I've been percolating on a lot of random thoughts, mostly regrets. And I know I shouldn't be sitting on this type of negative thinking, but it just happens and there's not a way to control it. I do want to be able to identify why I think of these as regrets, and what I really wanted to say to my dad in his last years. Most of the time when talking to him, he would only nod yes or no. We haven't had a long, deep conversation since 2017. I've even gone through great lengths to find old correspondence through texts or emails, and haven't come up with anything.

None of this was his fault, we never got a chance to really develop a larger relationship. I think if my dad had lived normally another 10 more years we would have been able to connect on a deeper level as our topics of conversation would have reached a maturity that my dad could comprehend. So here's what I would have spoken to him about:

  1. Family. I've become a mother and I wanted to share the experience while also listening to all his ramblings of how he raised me - the highs and the lows as well as his family history.

  2. Relationships + Love. It's no surprise that it took my parents a while to accept my husband. It wasn't to their "expectations" but I would have wanted to discuss this further and understand even the inner workings of my parents relationship.

  3. Politics. As silly as that is, I'm curious on what my dad's political opinion. We never touched the subject.

  4. His work. What the heck does he teach? Never once did I pry into his research. It was always above my head. I regret being at UTD and not attending one of his classes to see him in action.

  5. Travels + Experiences. Gosh this is vague and so broad, but where's he's been and where he wants to go next. I want to know what stuck out to him and obviously share all the things we've been up to.

After writing this all out, this is the basic and common line of topics of all things when talking to another person and truth be told....we really didn't do this a lot and it's upsetting. Now all I can really do is make up for it with current relationships from my mom to friends to my family and that's what I'll do.

I will always be grateful for my dad and the time I had with him. He was loved and cared for tremendously, and I hope now he can truly rest. It wasn't easy these last few years and I'll forever miss him.

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