Reverend William Huang
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I'm not the public speaker that my father was. Nor am I the singer, comedian, or basketball player. But I will do my best to make him proud.
My dad loved the four of us very much. He always did more than we gave him credit for, and always sacrificed for our gain. I remember one time he spent an entire afternoon fixing our toilet upstairs, while we sat around in the kitchen trying to make sushi. By the time he had come downstairs, excited about whatever remained, we had already finished all of it, and he ended up eating crackers or something for lunch. He was always doing stuff like that for us - doing thankless tasks that we, his kids, never seemed to notice.
My father spent a lot of his time talking to others about what we children did and what he was proud of. Whenever my dad introduced me to someone, that person would always say "I've heard so much about you" or "So I hear you're a student at the University of Texas." Even when I stopped by his restaurant this week, people who worked in the shops nearby stopped by to pay their respects and said things like "Oh so you're the son that he couldn't stop talking about. How's life in the Army?" My dad's friends knew my SAT scores before my own friends, and complete strangers would congratulate me on whatever accomplishment my dad was talking about most recently. I sometimes wonder if when I join my father in Heaven, people will approach me and say "You're Shane? Your father has told us so much about you!"
I don't think my father understood the concept of a "comfort zone," because there wasn't anything that he could do to make himself uncomfortable. He would deliver food, then sing to the customer. He used to sing loudly while walking down a crowded sidewalk. Sometimes when I got into a debate with him in public, he would just turn and ask someone else's opinion. But it was this boldness, combined with his care and concern for others, that made him such a great man.
This last summer, before I moved away from Houston, my father and I would sit and chat about all sorts of things, such as politics, history, science, philosophy, and religion. My mother once got very upset with us because we had stayed out at Denny's from 10PM to 6AM - we were there longer than most employees were that day. Looking back, though, I'm glad we got to spend so much of the summer together. I look forward to the days when I converse with my dad again.
I really debated what I would share w/ everyone today. I didn’t know whether I would tell you about his accomplishments – or tell you about the thousands of lives he touched all over the world – or tell you about his unforgettable personality and dynamic character. But you’ve all seen that side of him – you’ve seen him on stage telling jokes in 10 dialects, singing with his amazing voice, firing up the audience leaving them in laughter and tears, preaching the gospel with his extremely powerful messages…and you’ve all heard the stories of his travels around the world…helping those in need, befriending random strangers, singing and telling jokes to anyone that cared to listen. Baba was truly an amazing guy. But instead of emphasizing on what you already know about him, I wanted to tell you about Baba as my goofy father. The side not everyone got to see.
He was really crazy about not wasting. He had these crazy rules– like we were never allowed to tear off the whole sheet of a paper towel - we had to tear them at the perforation and then tear it again in half. Sometimes if we really wanted to impress him, we would tear them off in fourths.
I remember starting when I was really young, he used to make us save all the used egg shells and soak them in a cup of water, which he would then later use to water his plants. In order to catch every last drop of egg, he would also make us take the egg shells and place them on the soil. Every time my friends would come over, they always asked why we had eggs all over our plants and in our garden. I never understood what the point was to decorate the house with beautiful flowers if you were going to offset it with a disgusting display of eggshells. Instead of listening to my complaints about how embarrassing the eggshells were, Baba instead upgraded to an even more embarrassing method of fertilizing. He started this rule in the house where we weren’t allowed to throw any form of food away into the garbage. We had to throw all the leftover food and scrape off our bowls into this big bucket. He would wait until the bucket started stinking before using it as fertilizer. The garden in our backyard was hideous with all the rotten food, but Baba kept raving about how much prettier the flowers looked and how much sweeter the fruits tasted.
He was pretty obsessed with his fruit trees – especially that Guava one. Supposedly, nobody he knew was able to successfully grow good tasting Guava in Houston’s climate – so he was extremely proud. The only thing was – there would only be a few that grew the entire year. Since some started disappearing, he would write a note “DO NOT TAKE FRUIT” and tape it onto EACH guava. This took care of the guava thieves, but did not discourage the birds. So he would hang mardis gras beads all over the trees. These notes and beads on top of the home-made fertilizer were quite a ridiculous scene.
I remember later on in high school, when I had friends over and we would be sitting around chilling like these wannabe gangsters in our huge pants, he would plop right down next to all of us and start telling us jokes that only sounded right in Chinese and laughing really obnoxiously at his own jokes. Don’t get me wrong – he WAS a funny man – just that these jokes sounded MUCH better in Chinese and his obnoxious laughter was probably more appropriate for if he said them in Chinese. He would proceed to singing to my friends and THEN somehow end up either playing basketball with them in our driveway telling them all how he was the Chinese Magic Johnson or playing ridiculous balancing games (which there should be a picture in the slide show of him trying to get the family to play this stupid game next to the UT fountain).
But I think the most embarrassing moment I ever experienced with Baba was my senior year of high school when I brought a big group of friends home. This was during those few years when he wore that crazy toupee of his. When I got upstairs, I saw Baba watching TV – and not only was he missing his toupee, he was in his underwear (yes, tightie whities). I frantically looked around for something since I could hear my friends heading upstairs already. Thankfully, I found a towel and threw it at him. My crazy Baba then took the towel and threw it on his exposed bald head. My friends didn’t know how to handle being greeted by a strange man in his underwear and a towel on his head. Baba was waving to my friends w/ so much excitement – he loves big groups of people – if I didn’t stop him, he would’ve totally gotten up to start telling jokes in his underwear and towel-head.
I felt like everything he did was to purposely embarrass me when I was younger. But as I got older, I found myself doing so many of the same ridiculous things. My co-workers always made fun of me for tearing paper towels until I got it to the size I wanted. They finally mentioned to me – Hey, they have those “Pick-a-size-rolls” now, you know?
And a few weeks ago – I wanted to move some small trees from my parents’ house to mine, but the movers weren’t there yet and I needed to leave – so I found myself writing notes and taping them to every tree I wanted moved. Now that I am starting a garden in my backyard – I’m sure I will be making my husband do some crazy things in order to fertilize. Baba not only influenced the kids in all the big things he did in his life, but also all these little detailed things that I mentioned.
It’s so hard to let you go. It’s so hard to understand. A man with such a big heart. Always rooting for the underdog at EVERY single sports event. Always rooting for the underdog in ANY situation. Your passion was helping the weak I always heard childhood stories from Baba’s sisters about how he always protected them from the mean “Nai Mah” babysitter. Baba being the oldest son of 8 children was always protecting them. Getting sick of his little sisters being victims to this Nai Mah, he devised a plan to help them: When the Nai Mah would head to their room each sister would wrap their arms around one leg or one arm when the Nai Mah opened the door. Baba would jump on her and wrap his arms around her waist and would do the yelling. His goal was to bring her down as a team. But what ended up happening when the door opened was all the sisters chickened out and cowered away to the corners of the room, and Baba ended up taking her down himself with no help. That may have been the last time the sisters were victims to this mean lady.
Baba’s sisters always told me the thing Baba hated most was a man hitting a woman. The childhood story that sits most clear in my head was the one about the train ride – this big man hit his wife, and Baba stood up in front of the whole train of people, pointed his fingers at the man yelling in Chinese “WIFE BEATER ON THE TRAIN!!!” He never thought twice what might happen to him – he just had to react whenever he saw someone getting hurt.
It was clear at a young age that he was a selfless man. It’s extremely hard for us to accept – but there was no other way for him to die. It only made sense if he died protecting others. He died for what he lived for. I’m so proud to be a hero’s daughter.