I love you. You know that already, but I’ll probably say it several times throughout this regardless. I also realise this is more for me than it is for you, because you cannot read English well. But I want to do it all the same.
By the time you were my age you had already immigrated to a foreign country without a single qualification or a word of the native language that could help you navigate your surroundings. You slept on the floor with several other people in a room that was meant for one. You came with the intention of studying but realised that repaying the debt you accumulated from so many family members to get here meant you needed to find work. You were desperate to send back the money, so abandoned the plan to go to school and sought anyone who would give you a job. This meant you had to let yourself work for a few measly dollars an hour, for employers who would regularly cheat you out of your hard earned money. You had no one to confide in, no one to trust and nowhere to find help. You have done things I cannot fathom, things I could never have the courage for, to give me the life and future I have today. I love you.
I never appreciated it as a child, but you worked hard for me. How did it feel waking up at 2am to do the night shift at the bakery, then have to go to your second job afterwards? How did it feel putting that weight on your back every day so that you now live with a bulging vertebral disc and chronic back pain that keeps you up at night? Because I wouldn’t know. I love you.
I cherish the love you give me, the purest of loves that makes me believe I can conquer the world as long as I have you by my side. Everything you do is for my benefit, my interest and my priorities. You scrimp and save so that although you buy ten dollar t-shirts and will only have three pairs of pants, I wear nothing but the best and am indulged in a blue Tiffany box every birthday. You avoid holidays and travel so that you can stay home and look after me even though I am a grown adult who should be able to care for myself. You buy me anything I want without question or hesitation, even though I have my own part-time work and should be buying my own things. You decline any offer of presents or treating you to things, because somehow my money is more valuable and needs to be saved. I love you.
I look at you today and fear what I see. The sprouting of grey hairs, the wrinkling of the tired eyes, signs that your youthful invincibility is beginning to wane. I wonder whether you regret any decisions, if perhaps money wasn’t an issue you would have gotten an education and become a fancy businessman. You are a smart, intelligent man, and I know there was potential wasted. I wonder whether you have enjoyed your life thus far, and are happy with what you have achieved. I am glad you are now retired and no longer have to endure hard labour, but I am sad knowing the toll it has had on your body. Our house, car and possessions may pale in comparison to others, but what we lack in riches we have in love and an unbreakable family bond. You worked hard for what we have, and I could not ask for more. You make sacrifices for me every day, and it is a debt I will never be able to repay in full.
However, I will try. I promise that I will be by your side as you have done for me. I promise I will buy you things without question or hesitation. I promise we will go on holidays and experience all the food, culture and luxuries you deserve. I promise to make time for you regardless of what is happening in my life. I don’t believe for a moment I can be as selfless, giving and loving as you have been to me, but I will try my utmost to achieve even a tenth of that. I love you.