Papa is one of those singular individuals who possess the dichotomy of being remarkably strong and inherently authoritative, but also affectionately tender. The intricacies of his personality are shaped by his unwavering fortitude amid tremendous adversity, along with his determination to establish a better footing for his children.
He grew up in a destitute family in South Vietnam and his future became even more uncertain once the Vietnam War commenced. Poverty forced him to learn the rigors of independence early; he helped earn extra money by selling bread on the street, hauling 70-pound bags of rice to and from a truck, and farmed rice fields. When he was a teenager, he rode to Malaysia, where he would spend six months, on a tiny but dangerously overcrowded 4-by-16 wooden boat. While living in Malaysia, he chopped down trees to barter firewood for other living essentials to get by, and was eventually granted permission to fly to the U.S. as a refugee. He initially landed in Washington state, but settled on the other coast in Virginia, where he went to school and worked several jobs to survive.
Even in the absence of words, we never doubt the depth of his affection for each of us; we know he’s our biggest fan. Our successes are his successes, and our sorrows are even more profoundly felt by him.
Thanks for always being there and happy Father’s Day!
That's my papa!
(Originally posted June 20, 2010)