Tuesday, December 30, 2008

My dad

There are stories that I wanted to make sure I didn't forget about my childhood, especially stories I don't remember but have heard my dad tell. My dad is one of those guys who keeps things in perspective. He never gets upset over stuff or petty matters because he had to endure so much in his life. If he got dealt the short stick, he would work with that short stick and make it wonderful if it meant providing for his family and keep us together.

Here's one that has always stayed with me and I wanted my boys to know. When I was about five, we escaped from my homeland country of Vietnam. While we were waiting in Hong Kong to be sponsored over to the United States by my mom's oldest brother, we lived in a small room of an apartment that held several families. At the time, we did not have my brother who was the baby. My grandfather, dad, and uncles carved these beautiful boats made out of wood to sell for money. The boats were replicias of boats the men would build to go fishing. I think my dad told me they sold them for $10 at the time in the late 1970's so that went a long way to help us eat and stay afloat (barely) before we made it to the U.S. We were really, really poor.

My dad told us he would walk us around Hong Kong for entainment but not ever being able to buy anything. He couldn't remember which one of us girls asked him for an apple that was on displayed along the roadside because we were so hungry, he couldn't get for us because he couldn't afford to buy us an apple. His wish was to go to America and be able to make enough money to one day buy his girls an apple. I can't imagine how my dad must have felt knowing his kids were hungry and he couldn't do anything about it. He must have been so scared but had to be brave. He escaped his country with no money, didn't speak Chinese or English, took his entire family (my mom was 7 months pregnant) and left everything we knew and started to start a better life in America.

Shortly, when we came to America, he couldn't believe it when he saw other people take a few bites out of an apple and just leave it unfinished. He told me that he would pick up the rest of the uneatened apple and cut away the brown half and saved it to share with us. When you're that poor, you just make do.

I was reminded of this story this afternoon when I cut an apple for my boys at lunch. They innocently ate their share of the apple and I ate the other half. My kids may never know how to go without but I hope they can appreciate what they have. I'm so grateful to live in a country where if you work hard enough and save that you can have a better life. That's the legency I want for my kids.

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