Almost any other fruit I like taste sweeter in Asia, with the exception of oranges. Oranges taste sweeter in America.
My mom used to know a man who grew oranges in his back yard. According to her, his oranges made the phrase Orange county meaningful. Paul was a world war II veteran. He was especially proud of the fact that he was a navy seal. Even when random young men were carted away to the war, only the brilliant ones were picked out to join the seals and he was one of them.
In the war, he served as an accountant. Not a typical soldier out in the front line. After all anything for the war effort was appreciated. He was really good at what he did. In his time, he topped the board for the whole state of California. That’s how good he was.
After a year in the service, the war was over. Paul worked for the government for a number of years until he decided to start his own business selling car parts. He was a hard working businessman and was unabashedly republican. He holds hard work in high regard.
Years later, he met my mom in a ballroom at Placentia. He learned that my mom had been living in San Francisco for a year until people at work started ganging up on her because they were envious of the job offers she had been getting. You see, ma is a hard worker. She then moved to Los Angeles and dabbled with work opportunities there, but her landlord didn’t like the fact she was getting a lot of calls. They were calls for job offers and sometimes suitors. For this reason, she got called a hussy. In just two months, she decided to move from LA to Orange.
Paul offered her a job as an assistant. Tax season was coming and Paul did consultations and tax audits on the side – for fun. My mom took the job right away. She’s also the kind of girl who has fun with numbers.
Paul helped my mom settle in to Orange. It was a symbiotic relationship. From the stories, I’d say he must have had an Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder. He wanted everything neat and in a certain order otherwise, he’d be irritable. My mom found a kindred spirit. Here was this old man who was as sharp and meticulous as she was.
But it was this meticulousness that created a tension between Paul and his only son. It doesn’t hurt to mention that his son is a democrat. Regardless, Paul couldn’t accept the fact that his son squandered Paul’s hard earned money and that, despite all his investment in his son’s education, the man couldn’t find himself a decent job. He grew bitter and cold toward him.
On the other hand, Paul grew soft with my mom. One day, he offered to marry my mom to free her of her woes. Her time was running out and her status was tenuous. She accepted the offer. It wasn’t a fake marriage. They truly cared for each other for two years. But they drove each other crazy. They were both too meticulous. So, they divorced.
A year later, it was revealed that Paul had cancer and it was terminal. They learned that he got himself a young Filipina girlfriend and even visited her in the Philippines. A few months later, he died and left a lump sum of money to the girlfriend he’d only known for a few months. This lump sum was worth 240,000 USD, released as 30,000 USD annually.
In his will, he stated that his son will only inherit his home and his other real estate investments by the time he is 60. If his son wanted to live there, he’d have to rent it out until he was 60.
As for my mom, he left her a note. My mom never told me what was in that note.
I guess, this is turning out to be a very personal post but I wanted to share the story of Paul, who I never met but will never be forgotten. Without him, I would never taste the sweet oranges of Orange.