Dad Walks Into My Restaurant

Grief never ends.

My father passed away three months after my wife and I opened our little sandwich shop.

My mother had only one wish: to visit their son’s restaurant with her husband. However, Dad was unable to recover from major surgeries. He died without seeing his son’s biggest achievement.

After Dad’s passing, I put pictures of him around the restaurant. For example, one of his old identification photos is next to the ovens I use every morning.

In the photo, he looks healthy, spirited, and ambitious. Whenever I gaze at his face, I realize he was younger than me when he had his first child. At my age, he could never dream of starting his own business. For the family, he had to put aside his dreams.

When he got married to Mom, both of them planned to go study in another country. The bigger world was their destination. They believed leaving Korea would be a wise choice for their future.

The couple couldn’t study abroad as they wished. However, 20 years later, all of their children had a chance to be educated in the United States. Their dreams came true based on a generation of effort.

Dad is gone, but I often imagine him walking into the restaurant. “This is the best sandwich I’ve ever had.” He gives me a signature thumbs-up. I smile back and hug him to say thank you. Soon, our interaction ends, and I confront reality.