Ode to My Fathers

As another Father’s Day passes, I can’t help but reflect on the two fathers in my life, and how they have influenced me.

The Land of Hershey Bars

My father holding me in Seoul in 1964.

My father, David Soonho Kwon, is one of the main characters in my book, Echoes Across Time, and I was able to learn a lot more about him and his life through a series of personal interviews. His tender story of loss of family in Japan, loneliness growing up with strangers while his mother worked far away, and fighting to make a life in the U.S. with my mother and three small children, moved me deeply and inspired me to write.

My father was determined to come to the U.S. to provide more opportunities for his children and to fulfill a dream of reclaiming his rightful name. He had an idealistic vision of America as a land of Hershey bars that he could eat whenever he wanted, unlike the one he hid in his pocket and walked for miles with as a boy to share with his mother (you can read this tale in the book excerpt). His Hershey bar story taught me about the importance of family, and holding onto your dreams.

Without my father’s vision of a brighter future for him and his family, I wouldn’t be here. My father worked various odd jobs when we first arrived in Los Angeles in 1971, and he sometimes worked two jobs at the same time to provide for us:  as a bank teller by day, and janitor at night. He knew the meaning of hard work, and perservered even during the darkest hours when he doubted his decision to come to America. He gave me his pioneering spirit and optimism, that I carry to this day.

A Love of Japan

Charles Cabot Easton, my father-in-law

My father-in-law at his alma mater, Bowdoin College, circa 1945.

My father-in-law, Charles Cabot Easton, has a sense of adventure and is always curious about the people and world around him. He graduated from Bowdoin College in Maine, Class of ’48, and was state cross country champion. Due to his asthma, he did not serve in WWII, but was later sent to the Korean War where he became an officer (first lieutenant). He was stationed in Sendai, Japan as part of the US Army Signal Corps, and part of his duties was breaking codes. During that time, he traveled all over Japan, and he published a number of articles about Japan with his own photographs. His love of Japan filtered down to his children, and happily for me, to his son, Mark, who I met studying Japanese at Middlebury College in Vermont of all places!

My father-in-law’s legacy is that he is open-minded and inclusive. His wider perspective on the world meant that he accepted me as a daughter-in-law immediately. He is kind, funny, and always makes me feel at home. His career was in fundraising for educational institutions, so making others (especially me) feel comfortable and welcome came second nature to him.  He has taught me to enjoy life everyday, show people you care, and seek sunshine wherever I go!

The Point of Intersection

While Cabot ventured to Japan during the Korean War, my father journeyed to America for a better life. They traveled in opposite directions, but their destiny was to meet through their children. Cabot’s openness to the world prompted his own son to learn more about Japan, and my father’s experience of coming to America encouraged me to spread my wings to try college in the Northeast. Thanks to our fathers, as they say, the rest is history.

I hope you enjoyed celebrating your father on Father’s Day! Let me know how your father influenced you and your path in life. Leave a comment below.

Rosa Kwon Easton

2018-10-09T07:53:01+00:00June 24th, 2015|Family, Inspiration|

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  1. Teri Case June 27, 2015 at 3:05 pm - Reply

    Oh! “Ode to Fathers” is serendipitous. I’m curious–have the two men ever met?

    • Rosa Easton June 28, 2015 at 11:56 pm - Reply

      Yes, they met after we first got engaged and then many times afterward! They are completely different people, but enjoy each other’s company. My father’s English is very good so they talk to each other easily, including about their experience in Japan. It’s funny watching them stand side by side because my father is 5’6″ and Cabot is 6’3″. Their paths couldn’t be more different but they share a sense of humor and eternal curiosity. It was a serendipitous meeting indeed! Thanks for asking!

  2. Pamela June 28, 2015 at 6:51 pm - Reply

    Among many, many things that my father gave me through his words and deeds, he gave me a love of games and friendly competition. He taught me all kinds of card games from Rummy 500 to cribbage, board games, and mancala. I taught him backgammon and dominos and to this day we love to play any kind of game together. He excels in word games…he has a huge vocabulary, where I am better at games that involve a bit of strategy combined with a lot of luck, like dominos.

    My mother and brother were not big gammers…and neither are my husband and son, but my daughter and I carry on the game-loving legacy.

    • Rosa June 29, 2015 at 4:00 pm - Reply

      It’s wonderful that your father left you the love of games that you and your daughter now embrace. It brings the generations closer together, and continues your father’s legacy. It’s beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

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