The Tiger and the Rabbit

My parents
My father as a young man in Paris
My father as a young man.

A friend once pointed to a photograph and asked when I’d been to Paris–but I’d never been. He was looking at a photo of my dad from the 1970s, when my father had gone to France as a young engineer.

I look just like him. We have the same high foreheads, sloping eyes, and sharp noses. We could be mistaken for each other in photographs, if not for either being young at the wrong time.

My dad was born in the year of the tiger, and he’s always been one to me: a fierce spirit living life with bold, leaping strides. As the years passed, those leaps have gotten shorter, but I still see the tiger inside.

Myself as a young man in Kyoto
I as a young man.

I wish his life has turned out better, but it hasn’t always been a bed of roses.

As I passed my 30s , my face filled out with a roundness my dad never had, but which resembles my mom’s.

My mom was born in the year of the rabbit, and her gentle soul reminds me of one. She’s the spirit of love; always giving. The years have turned her hair snowy white, but her generosity has never waned.

Even today, when I find her falling asleep in front of the TV more often, she still cooks her heart out whenever we all get together.

My mother as a young woman
My mother as a young woman.

I’ve come to know my parents as the people they are, and not the giants I imagined they were. They’ve inspired, disappointed, frustrated, and inspired me. They’ve loved me, and I’ve done my best to love them back.

For their courage, love, and generosity in the face of everything we’ve gone through, and for all we–their children–have put them through, I want to tell my parents that they are my heroes, now, and always.

I see the tiger and the rabbit every time I look in the mirror, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything.