Seeing My Father

November 16, 2008 Updated: November 16, 2008

I’m struggling over whether to take my family to Hong Kong this year to see my father. My father and mother divorced when I was five, and for much of my life, I had no contact with him. That changed in 1996, when my mom and I went back to Hong Kong. At the age of 33, I saw my father for the first time in 27 years.

When I got married in 1998, I took my wife to Hong Kong to meet him and his relatives in China. Now that I have two kids, I understand my father wants to see his grandchildren.

Five months ago, we purchased the tickets for my family to fly to Hong Kong in December. Then the stock market went into a tailspin, and we came up against a few major plumbing expenses in a condo we rent out to tenants.

In light of this, I’m thinking of canceling the Hong Kong trip to save money. My father will be disappointed, but I can’t afford to pay for major property repairs and still go to Hong Kong this year.

In the past, I’ve offered to fly my father to the U.S. and let him stay with us for the duration of his visit so he can see his grandkids. He never responded. My mom thinks he might be afraid to fly because he’s never traveled outside of China before, but she doesn’t know because he’s not saying anything.

It makes me think back to why he never came to visit me after my mother and I left Hong Kong. He never attempted to call even write. If he can’t get on an airplane, that’s one thing, but how hard is it to send a letter?

Now he wants to see his grandchildren, and I will bring them if we can manage it. But right now, I have to take care of my own family.

The thought occurs to me that if he really wants to see our family, we will pay for his plane ticket. We will take care of room and board while he’s here, so he could basically do the whole trip for free.

If that doesn’t work for him, he can at least tell us why. This isn’t about punishing him for past indiscretions. It’s about communication, and it’s hard to have a relationship without it.

Ray lives with his wife and kids in California. Any questions or comments please contact him at