We hopped on the cheap Chinatown bus to Niagara Falls, said hello to my sister, bro-in-law, and my mom's ashes, and then Pa went apeshit in the casino. Though he’ll never admit it, I think he had a good day.
I call Pa today and he joyously tells me, "It's Canadian (sic) Day!"
My father happened to be born in a country where a brutal war occurred in his most formative years, where he lost both of his parents before the age of 6, and soon after suffered extreme child labour abuses and a cruel dictatorship in his adult years. There was no question that life in Canada was paradise -- a bounty of riches that a lot of us have... only by the sheer luck of having been born here.
My father was not legal when he landed in Quebec. Yes, there are rules. There are laws that protect and make a country function, prevent chaos. I'm, by nature, a rule-follower and often a stickler for adherence to these laws. But my father? He defied them all, and I wouldn't be here if he hadn't been such a bad-ass.
For newcomers, picking up and moving to a foreign land without friends, family ties, a guaranteed job, or knowledge of the language? It's tough. Yet somehow, they cobble things together, desperately trying to make things work, just to prove they can do it. And they do. My parents were some of the hardest-working people I've ever known. They didn't have the intellectual know-how to sit in an office and have a cushy life, but Canada, at the time, opened its arms to them, folks who may not have been desirable on paper, but who, through their own grit, could make a thriving, self-sufficient life and contribute to this country in their own unique way.
There isn't a Canada Day that goes by where I'm not constantly scanning my environment, recognizing that most people in my circle are direct children of immigrants or newcomers themselves. And then I recognize, well, that's silly of me: aside from the original keepers of this land, we're all immigrants, some of us with just longer history in this country than others. Does that make someone more Canadian than me or my father? HELL NO.
So today, I'm supremely thankful to my parents and for my friends' parents and grandparents, etc., for choosing this sprawling land as their settling point. And to Canada, for letting us contribute to the different shades that make this country what it is: because that's what this is about/aboat/aboot, right?
HAPPY CANADA DAY, ALL.
My father ordered har gow/siu mai at dimsum today... which was slightly shocking, as they aren't typically in his order repertoire. "I thought that food was just for me and gwai los (white people). When did you learn to eat that?"
His response? A simple, "Sometimes you change."
I laughed, but then, when the dishes arrived, he delicately poked his chopsticks into the har gow basket and sighed. "We used to buy these for Ma when she was sick."
I nodded. "Yeah."
And just like that, it all made sense.