Every now and then I get asked about dad’s Tai Chi brother, Dr. Tao.
I didn’t really know him that well, he was this really skinny asian guy who wore big glasses and made funny sounds. He really liked moth balls and always wore prayer beads on his wrist.
When I was little and had poured a cold bowl of cereal to eat, I remember Dr. Tao asserting his “elder” self this one time where he would not let me touch the bowl. He was always very gentle, sweet to us and quiet, never would interfere with what any of what we were doing, but he would not let us have cold cereal in the morning. I remember being kind of shocked at how much he took control of the situation of cold milk on our cereal. The bowls went straight into the microwave. I just sat there a bit stunned. He takes the mushy bowls of cereal out and I sit there trying to eat it, but then I call for mom and since he didn’t speak english he told her about how bad having something cold first thing in the morning was so bad for our health. I think we just ate oatmeal for the duration of his stay when he was present. You could tell how much he loved us in this family kinda way when it came to how he cared so much about our health.
We took him to Atlantic City this one weekend and mom and I took him to see the La Cage show, where men dressed in drag and impersonated Madonna, Cher, Barbara Streisand, Tina Turner and a few others. This had to be one of the funniest experiences of my life. The poor guy was basically like a monk and mom gets the idea to take him to this show. I think dad was busy doing something and he didn’t want Dr. Tao to sit in his room alone. I remember leaving half way through because he looked like he was gonna wear out the prayer beads on his wrist.
Then he also did one of the most beautiful things anyone has ever done for our family, he searched endlessly and tirelessly for my father’s long lost sister who had been raised by other family members. When you are from a family of wealth, if your sister or brother can’t have children, it is customary for sisters and brothers to give their children to family members to raise as their own. My dad’s parents had given this sister away and this was my father’s only living relative. This was of a time when bonds of friendship were real, not like today where people are around one minute and then gone the next. If people were in your life, this code of honor was always honored, so different from the narcissistic societies today. Honor existed and Integrity had meaning. Dr. Tao proved himself family to us time and time again.
He also treated my grandmother when she had a stroke, never left her side until she was better. He never seemed to mine, you could tell her life mattered to him and her health was important to him. I honestly always thought him to be blood family.
He was nice quiet guy who also drove us crazy in that family style away and he passed away peacefully in his sleep one night.
I always love and appreciated how much I could feel he loved my dad and us because of his brotherhood with my dad. A rare character with character, nearly extinct in this day and age.