Connie can remember her dad, Chris Shim, working hard when she was younger. She’d try to stay up as late as she could and wait for him to get home.
“Since he worked as a psychiatrist at Caylor Nickel Clinic in Bluffton, which was about an hour away, he always got home late,” Connie explained. “Sometimes when I would be in bed, I’d wake up to the sound of the garage door going up. I’d race down the stairs and give my dad the tightest hug I could give him like I never wanted to let him go. Even though my dad wasn’t around all the time, I always knew that he was working hard for our family in some way to provide for us.”
What is your favorite memory of your dad from when you were younger?
My dad was not around all the time when we were young, but sometimes after work, my dad would put a towel over his head and pretend to be a monster. He would try to catch us as we scurried in around my parent’s room trying to find places to “hide”. He would say “Noon-kal-be-bal-bal-bal-bal”. For years, I assumed that it was a Korean saying like Marco Polo. It wasn’t until later that my dad told me that it was just a game he had made up on the fly that day, but we played it for years.
How did your relationship with your dad change over your lifetime?
Initially, I thought my dad was pretty strict. I always loved him, but sometimes I would be afraid of discussing certain issues because one of my biggest fears was failure and the idea of disappointing him. But no matter what situation I would get myself into, in the end, my dad would always be there for me. Now that I am a parent myself, I finally realize what true unconditional love means. I also realize how many sacrifices my parents made to provide a good life for my sister and me. My father and my relationship has grown and I can discuss anything with him.
Explain how your dad influenced your life.
My father has done more than influence my life; he has given me my life. Without his guidance, love and support, I would not be the woman I am today. It all started when my father emigrated from South Korea to the United States, leaving everything he knew that was familiar to him behind in order to provide a better life for his family. With my mom, some money in his pocket and a lamp, my father made the brave choice to come to a country where he may not have known the language, but he did know that it was a land of opportunity. That sacrifice alone was just the beginning for how my father influenced my life so that I had the best chance I could.
What qualities do you share with your dad?
I am my dad’s mini me. Our family’s inside joke is that if we could be represented as a fruit, we would both be pineapples. Sometimes we can be portrayed as hard on the outside, but we are actually super sweet on the inside. I couldn’t be more like my father: outgoing, determined, hard-working, loving, goal-oriented, competitive.
Did your dad have a favorite quote or mantra?
Being a psychiatrist, there are SO MANY! “Work hard, play hard.” “Be prepared.” “It’s not the WHAT, it is the HOW.” These lessons will forever be ingrained in my mind and I hope to pass them down to my children. My father was a man who didn’t speak much of the past. He was always a man of the future. He always said that family is your true legacy. No matter if I wanted to hear it or not, my dad would always pass down his words of wisdom in order to make me a better person. He will physically not be on this Earth forever, but his words will always be with me and hopefully for future generations.