My Dear Son,
I decided to write you this letter on the occasion of your 20th birthday because I believe you are now mature enough to have a good understanding of the world around you. Plus, I wanted to give you a gift that you cannot buy at any stores at any price, the gift of love, admiration, and support.
You will graduate from university in a couple of years, ready to take on the challenges and the responsibilities of the real world. You have to make some tough decisions concerning your education, your career, and other important matters in your life. As you know, important decisions are not easy, and sometimes they are cumbersome to make.
Your mother and I have been always with you from the moment you were born and have been always there for you whenever you needed support, guidance, protection, and assistance in any way. In our culture, the children mean a lot to a family. They are the pride and the joy of the family, the life’s most precious assets. We love you unconditionally and are committed to do whatever it takes so that you excel and lead a happy and prosperous life. You have, thus far, fulfilled all of our expectations even above and beyond what we had hoped for. We have been utterly proud of you and your accomplishments up until now, and definitely will be proud of you in the future. Despite the fact that we love you so dearly, we may often fail to put it in words or in any other forms of modern expressions. It is just the boorishness of our native culture that precludes us sometimes from expressing our love for our kids candidly.
Although you are an intelligent young man, we believe it is important for us to continue to provide guidance and support for you especially when it comes to certain important matters. There are some things in life that came best with age and experience. We understand that you may occasionally consider our concerns overly, unnecessary, or even embarrassing. However, that is an integral part of being successful parents. No doubt, we have always your best interests in our hearts. I remember, sometimes we may have frenzied arguments with you but no lecturing was meant, we may have spanked you rarely but no physical harm was intended, or we may have irritated you by comparing you to your older brother or sister, but no denigration was in our mind. We love always you just the way you are.
I remember when I was a kid; I relied always on my parents, and on my older brothers and sisters, as the most trustworthy source of consultation and comfort. Although my parents were strict, disciplinary, and correct in their own judgment, they were very considerate. I completely understood that and tried not to do anything to hurt their feelings. Although none of the members of my family have formal education – most of them even cannot sign their names – they are very knowledgeable about the life’s important matters. My parents did not do for me any of the things that modern parents do for their children. I don’t remember that they ever drove me to school, bought me a toy, took me to a restaurant, or spent any so called quality time with me. But, they were good parents, the best, and that is what matters.
As a traditional poor farmer, my father had to work hard every day for many long hours. He did not have any additional time to spend with me. If I needed love and affection, I always could turn to my mother. My high respect for both of them did not allow me from challenging their decisions, being irresponsible to their feelings, or even raising my voice when talking to them. I thought, and I still think, that I had the best parents in the whole world and never felt that I needed better ones. Now that I am a parent, what else do I expect from my children except what my parents expected from me?
The abundance you take for granted today, was an attainable luxury for me when I was at your age. I was about twenty four years old when I came to this country as a young ambitious student, just like you, out of curiosity and in search of a better life. My decision to come to the United States was totally my own. I remember I had a dark brown suitcase in my right hand, a dictionary in my left hand, $2100 in my pocket, and a burning desire in my heart to succeed. As a bewildered novice in a totally strange land, I knew nobody to turn to, and had no experience to draw on, and barely can speak English.
From the onset of my journey to this country, I had to work hard because I knew that was the only way for me to support myself and to continue my education. I had to do odd jobs ranging from janitorial, car hopping, dishwashing, truck driving, and pizza delivering to support myself and my education. I did them all. Did I like them? No. I hated them, but I didn’t have much choices. I did not let the feeling of despair to overwhelm me. I considered those odd jobs as the temporary sources of income I needed to support my long-term goal which was to have a good education. Surviving might be easy; succeeding is not. I managed to climb my way up inch by inch through perseverance and hard work. This is not to claim that I am a very successful person. Given the circumstances, I think I have done well. I am not dissatisfied, or disappointed, with my life in any way.
You see, the world we live in may not be as simple as it looks, or as we think it is. You may not have seen enough of it yet. They say whatever a young man sees in a mirror an old person sees in a bare wall. Your heart is like a shiny spotless mirror that shows everything nicely and clearly. You certainly see what is happening today; however, you may not be farsighted enough to see what may come about in the distant future. You can rely on your intellectual ability for academic matters. There are, however, some important things that come to us best with age and with experience. As your parents and someone with extensive experience in life, we envision your future and we want it to be as bright and productive as possible. To secure such a prosperous future, we need to invest in it now. I know that it is difficult to work hard and pass all those classes with good grades. But, learning is not always fun. Sometimes good things, like a good medicine, may not be tasty to swallow but they are certainly useful, and often life saving, for us.
I know many things may happen everyday that we may not like or do not approve. But remember, we cannot control everything. Therefore, we should not allow uncontrollable events distract us, because if we do, we let them control our life. Sometimes, we may also be treated unfairly or discriminatory. However, we should overcome such treatments through determination and the quality works and move on. Time is the best healer. You need to be patient. Sometime, things have to go through their natural course. To me, life is like a moving chart, it may be forced to fluctuate up and down in the short run along its steady upward trend in the long run.
My dear son, by the time you graduate from university, I am sure there will still going to be crimes committed by some social misfits, there will be war and other catastrophic events, many families may still be left behind when it comes to health, education, and other social service, many will still die from AIDES an heart attaches everyday, there will be continuing clash and ethnic cleansing in different parts of the world, there may be still lingering fear of economic recession, the Federal Reserve may be struggling to pump more liquidity into the economy successfully, poverty and famine will not yet be eradicated, however, I am optimistic that you will launch your career in a much better world than the one in which I started mine.