** Today’s post is provided by Protiviti Risk & Compliance Manager, Angie, who shares a story in loving memory of her father Ching Ping “Paul”**
Like most hopeful immigrants looking for an opportunity to fulfill the American dream, my father left the comfort of his simple life in the countryside of Hong Kong and came to America in debt and eager to work.
He met my mom in New York City while working in the same restaurant; my dad was a cook, and my mom was a hostess. Shortly after they dated, they got married and had my brother and me about 11 months apart from each other.
In the 1980s, raising a family in the city was dangerous since there was so much crime and violence prevalent in daily life. A phone call from my parents’ close friends changed everything. They were looking to sell their restaurant, Wong’s Palace. My dad saw the opportunity to take his family out of an unsafe environment and hopefully earn a profitable living to repay his debts and quickly jumped on the offer. And that’s how we ended up in the small, southern town of Waycross, Georgia.
A New Home
With a population of roughly 19,000 people and a demographic of less than .3 percent Asians at the time, my father knew he was facing an uphill battle as he set out to establish new roots in this unfamiliar territory. During that time, the only Asian the people in Waycross knew about was Bruce Lee, so everywhere my family went, we were greeted with stares, and people would call my dad Bruce Lee. Looking back, I couldn’t imagine how difficult it was for my parents to shield their children from the curious stares and unwarming welcome of others as we went out in public. It must’ve been frightening and uncomfortable as a parent, to say the least.
Because my parents were always working, they were rarely home; so my childhood memories consisted of my brother and I chasing my parents around their restaurant, as it was the best time to spend time with them. We didn’t own a complete set of pots and pans at home because my parents would do all the cooking at the restaurant to feed our family – and if you’d ask my dad, the restaurant would be considered his first home. Eventually, as my brother and I got older, we began working in the family business, which seemed like a familial obligation. Still, I didn’t mind it because I knew it was the only way to spend quality time with my parents.
Creating a Legacy
Fast forward 39 years later from the first day in Waycross, my father, with his perseverance and unwavering positive attitude, built a successful empire. He created a booming business and several real estate investments, and it was more than he could imagine he could ever achieve. Material accomplishments aside, it’s the lasting impressions on the lives my father had impacted that will continue his legacy.
People in our community felt the impact of my father’s life struggles and the difficult decisions he had to make throughout life’s journey to help him accomplish all he had; they saw it wasn’t easy for him and had so much respect for him. My father loved to talk to his “Wong’s family” and would always give them advice on making a better life for themselves by dreaming bigger. Over the years, people would come up to me and say they would never have considered going to college if it weren’t for my dad pushing them constantly to do better. My father was a wonderful man and was loved by many different people. And to me, he is a superhero.
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