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My Family

Posted on September 8th, 2005

By popular demand, here’s an entry about my family. While the original requests were for information about my parents, I figured that I could one-up everyone and talk about my brother, too.

My parents are both from Hong Kong, and moved to Canada in the 1960s for school. My dad, Francis, studied at St. Francis Xavier (undergraduate, I’m not sure for what), Queen’s (undergraduate, engineering — boooo!), and York (masters, business administration). My mom, Theresa, went to St. Mary’s (undergraduate, arts, I think).

I actually don’t know the details about how or where or when they met, but I do know that they were in Toronto by the time 1978 rolled around. That was, of course, when my brother, Chris, was born. By this time, my paternal grandmother had flown to Canada and had moved in, as well. Naturally, I don’t know a whole lot about what happened around this time because, well, I wasn’t born yet.

So let’s fast-forward to 1983 when I popped out of the oven! Right around the time of my birth, my parents bought a new house for the bigger family. Even still, I had to share a room with Chris. The poor guy had to deal with my crying and screaming all night long!

While my brother went to the local elementary school, my parents both worked. This left my grandma to take care of me and, as far as I remember, she did a fantastic job. At the time, my Cantonese was pretty okay, so I was able to communicate with her.

By the time I started school, however, Cantonese was well on its way out; I was assimilated into the Western culture. After class, I remember playing with my brother quite a bit; stuffed animals came alive, furniture became territories in our imaginary planet, and Lego pieces littered the room. (Not really.. even at a young age I was a bit of a neat freak…)

My relationship with my brother, of course, was not without its troubles. We fought (to a greater extent than our fake wrestling matches on his bed) and argued a fair bit. I usually got away with anything since I was the younger sibling, and I fully took advantage of this. No wonder our relationship soured a bit as I grew up.

This extended to church, which I attended with my brother and mom; my dad went on his own to a different Mass. We usually had to be separated because we were either bickering or causing trouble (or both).

Things started to quiet down when my brother went to high school; I didn’t really speak to him and he returned the gesture. I started to grow more distant with my parents, too. It was around this time that I started to realize that we weren’t doing many things as a family. I can only recall two vacations that the entire family took together, and lots of other ones where only a subset of the family went. The whole going to church with only mom thing started to raise some flags, too.

Poop hit the fan when I was in Grade 6. My parents sat me down and told me that mom was moving out, and that I was to stay with dad. This was quite extraordinary for an 11-year old, and I didn’t take it very well. I started to slide in school, and I was an emotional wreck. My brother took it a little bit better, I think, but I’m not too sure because, well, I didn’t talk to him much, remember?

So every other week or so, my brother and I would go and visit my mom. She’d go from place to place and, at one point, was just down the street from where my dad lived. It was a little strange but I eventually got used to it. And so it unfolded that my dad would provide a great deal of support in my life.

When my brother went to university (Waterloo, for Computer Science), things changed dramatically. First off, I had my own room! Secondly, the times that he was home generally went well. All of a sudden, we were able to treat each other with a reasonable degree of respect. I think this is a function of both the distance between us and our progress of becoming mature people.

I was in high school at this time, going to a school that I absolutely did not want to attend. My parents wanted me to go to St. Michael’s College School – a private Catholic school in downtown Toronto – while I wanted to go to St. Elizabeth, the local high school where most of my friends were going. I resented them for the pressure and this further widened the gap between us.

My time in university has done a lot of good to bridge some of the gaps, though. I feel like I’m on better terms with my parents; I certainly don’t argue with them quite as much. Nevertheless, communication is very scarce between us… we hardly ever call each other, and occasional emails are generally formal in nature. It really seems like my relationship with my parents is a business relationship.

Presently, my dad is a manager for the Technology and Business Solutions branch of Ontario’s Ministry of Education and my mom does finance stuff for LeisureWorld (a housing service for the elderly). My brother has started his own business, providing technical expertise to companies as a consultant.

Having said all that I have, I’m grateful for everything that my family has done for me. My parents have always supported me, and I know that they love me. While I did not have a very close family, I am still confident that we’re all there for each other whenever we need it. Even with my parents’ separation, I think that I learned a lot and grew because of it; I would not be nearly as independent as I am today had that not happened.

It may be hard for me to express it (since I never really became close with them), but I do love them too. It goes without saying that I wouldn’t be where I am without them. Sometimes I wonder if it’s not too late to try and build a better relationship. But then I consider the fact that I wouldn’t have the slightest clue on how to start and that it may make everyone involved feel a little awkward.

One thing that I have learned from my family is what I would do with my own family; I know the things that I wish that I had, and the things that I could have done without. I’m hoping that my experience will make me a good parent and husband. In fact, I’m counting on it.

So there’s a very brief look at some of the inner workings of my family life. If you’re looking for more, e-mail me or something… I dunno.

Anyhow it’s 2am and my last roommate is coming in the morning (Kat moved in today.. hooray!). Catch ya later!

4 Responses to “My Family”

  1. ytsirk Says:

    thanks justin.. i feel better now

  2. Justin Says:

    I do what I can… this is probably a topic that should be discussed in person, seeing as how a great amount of detail was missing..

  3. ytsirk Says:

    true enough… however the chances of us meeting up to have a chat in the near future are slim to none… so this will have to do.

  4. Rodney Says:

    Thanks for the entry. I found it to be really interesting to see this side of you that I haven’t really much of.

    On my journal, I usually leave out details on what’s going on with the family (except for my sister at UW). I find it hard to write about my family for some reason – don’t know why, though.

    We should get together soon. 🙂

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