With the death of my roommate's father, I have started examining my own feelings regarding the loss of a parent. My own father is not in the best of health and neither is my remaining Grandmother.
There is a saying that no matter how old you are and no matter how far you move, you will always carry your parent's excess baggage. All those words of caution, all the instruction and all of the demands your parents placed on you, you will carry with you for the rest of your life. It's that excess baggage that you are hearing when you hear your mother telling you to take your elbows off of the table and she lives in the next state. It is the excess baggage that you are hearing when you look at your significant other and suddenly see them as your parents did. It is the excess baggage you are hearing when you get the feeling that your parents are proud of you even though they are not in the same room.
My immediate reaction to the death of Nancy's father was the thought that now she no longer had to keep secrets from him. He would no longer yell because she owned a dog. She would no longer have to eat three Thanksgiving dinners all because her parents were divorced, and her significant other's family wanted her presence at dinner too. I thought now he won't have to find out from someone else all of the things that Nancy has done in her life which would cause a first generation Chinese father to have a fit. And I thought now her life would be easier, and suddenly I was ashamed.
Nancy did not like her father, she did not like visiting him. His death has turned her life upside down and yet, she grieves for him. How can I think that now he won't be around to hassle her, because at the same time now, he will never be able to see her graduate from college, get married and have kids. Granted if she married someone who wasn't Chinese, then he may not have attended the wedding, but at least it would have been his choice. Now he doesn't have a choice and neither does Nancy.
I am now gratefull that it wasn't my father. I realize that sometimes my relationship with my parents is a lot like Nancy's relationship was with her father. They only make your life miserable sometimes because they love you and want the best for you. Now I don't mind the excess baggage I am carrying.