The half brother was 20-odd years my father’s junior; an unhappy man, with a long list of woes, including his meager salary. His wife had died, leaving him with a brood of tiny children and a life of grinding hardship. Racked with guilt, my father sent his brother some money to tide him over, although he had little to spare.
“I will forever be thankful to your honor for this act of kindness,” the half brother wrote in acknowledgment. But forever is a long time. More letters arrived with more requests. They all started with the same greeting: “I hope you will find this letter of mine with Good Spirit and Fine Health,” as if unaware my father was dying of cancer.
This essay in the New York Times Magazine about watching a father support his poor relatives abroad reminded me of when my father would send money to some of my relatives abroad even when my family of five was living in a one-bedroom apartment and saving up to buy a house. Money. Family ties. It’s complicated.
Photo: Flickr/Norman B. Leventhal