Stanley Sing Ngen Wong
Jan 13, 1944 - Nov 29, 2019
November 29th, 2019 was a Black Friday that will remain dark for the rest of my life. It was the last day that my father, my Hero took his last breath.
When Stanley SN Wong entered this world, he did not start off with very much. Born January 13th, 1944 in Canton, China to a family of two older siblings, my Father’s biological mother passed away when he was 2 years old. Being very poor in China during the 1940’s, his burdened father was forced to let him go. Fortunately, he was adopted by the Wong family because they did not have a son of their own.
Although the Wongs were not very rich themselves, they offered a new life, and with it, the opportunity for my Father to make his way in this world. At the young age of 13, he traveled to Hong Kong to work, bringing money back to support his mother and father. He was able to find work in a tailor shop owned by the Ng family, which gave him valuable skills and something even better than money. The Ng family had a lovely young daughter named Mei Lei Ng who would later become his wife— my Mother.
When not working throughout his high school years, he ran competitive track, like his grandson Bryton. He enjoyed the fashion of the time and enjoyed dancing the Cha Cha. At the age of 18, he had to get serious. He and his adopted father left their family in China to come to the United States to make a living. Two years later, my Father returned to Hong Kong to marry Mei Lei. In the following years, both of their families immigrated and became US citizens.
In America, my Father worked as a waiter, a cook and a butcher where he met many older, lifelong friends. Uncles of mine who he fished with, watched the race horses with, and enjoyed Forty Niners football games with. One uncle, Ming Souk, helped my father get started with his own small restaurant. This little truck stop known as Ole’s Cafe was where my Father and Mother worked 7 days a week for 21 years. Through their years in the cafe, they were able to bring genuine joy that accompanied the hot plates of American comfort food they served to so many people. These were some of their happiest years.
Together, they were able to push their way up in this world. They helped my Sister Sherry and me with our college educations, as well as support their 5 grandchildren as they pursue college degrees— a luxury that they themselves weren’t given the opportunities to have.
Six years ago, he fought off his first bout with colon cancer. Thankfully, he was able to enjoy the high school graduations of 4 of his grandkids Ben, Ayumi, Victor, and Bryton. He could not have been any prouder.
Last year, before his youngest grandchild Oscar was even old enough to think about college like the others, the colon cancer returned. Weekly, he had blood tests and chemotherapy in which my Sister Sherry and I provided transportation for him. Every other Monday, I would take my Dad to chemo and then we would get lunch together when he would tell me stories about his life. Chemotherapy characteristically causes side effects like numbness of the fingers, body chills, and a general lack of appetite. Still, each Monday, Dad would finish his plate of tonkatsu or teriyaki salmon with a large bowl of ginger. Many times, even out eating me! I think he did so just to make me happy.
My Dad was not a religious man, a head of state, nor business giant. Yet, he was my Hero. He showed me what it meant to be a Father. Hard work, kindness to others, and above all, sacrifice were the testaments that he lived by. Family was his religion. From my point of view, he went to church daily— early morning until nightfall, he was there for his family.
I will miss my Monday lunches with you Dad.
And I will continue to live by what you have taught me to be there for my children and their children.
If you are reading this, if you have eaten a tasty meal at Ole’s Cafe, or if you have been lucky enough to take in my Dad’s warm smile, I ask you not to be sad.
My Father and Mother made specific plans for this date.
By their wishes, there will be no formal service.
In lieu of flowers, or donation, I instead ask what I think my Dad would want: Spend a Monday lunch with your kids or loved ones.
Or even better, put money on the Niners to win this next Super Bowl.
Son of a Hero