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On Faith


Saturday, June 16, 2001

The memories of
a father are sacred

TEN years ago, my father passed away unexpectedly. I was notified by one of those horrible early-morning calls.

I was living on the mainland at the time. On a windy day, I remember making three vows.

I promised to take care of Mom.

She has since contracted lung cancer and lives with my family.

I promised to live a life that would be honest to keep the family name honorable.

And I promised to keep up the friendships that my dad had so that there would always be a strong bridge between our families.

What makes a man make such vows in honor of a deceased father? Memories.

Dad worked for the Internal Revenue Service for 35 years, ending up second in command in the auditing division here in Honolulu.

He always wanted his family of a wife and three kids to live honestly, humbly and simply because of his position. He felt if he was to make sure people were honest, then we would have to be honest.

MY MEMORY of him was that he was hard to fit into a stereotype.

This bespectacled, slender man of 130 pounds and 5 feet 7 inches tall had an accounting background and could have been seen as a mild-mannered nerd.

But I remember the time we were outside Columbia Inn and a man was repeatedly hitting a woman.

Dad jumped into the fray with my brother-in-law to stiff-arm the assailant, pinning him on the hood of a car until help finally came.

I recall when we were very young, a stranger took a young girl who was our neighbor into a tool shed in the schoolyard behind our house, and my dad picked up a long wrench and went out to rescue the girl. I remember that he was a great shot with a rifle and was quite accurate shooting down clay pigeons off the Lurline. And he loved to ride horses.

Perhaps it didn't all fit the stereotype of a mild-mannered accountant, but he was lion-hearted when he had to be and compassionate with the underdog.

I remember his college classmate lost his job and one day showed up at our door selling encyclopedias. We already had a set.

Years later, my mother said that when she saw his classmate at our door, she knew Dad would buy a second set just to help his friend. For years I always wondered why we had two sets at home.

I recall as a child that I suggested to Dad outside a box office that we not tell the movie theater my real age so we could save money by buying a cheaper ticket.

My dad just asked a simple question of me, "What is the truth?"

I never lied about my age again.The memory of Dad is always with me.

Memories shape our lives. Memories enable us to make promises at graves.

Dan Chun is pastor of First Presbyterian Church
and chairman of Hawaiian Islands Ministries.


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