On Friday night, my Fiancee and I were trying on new clothes for the wedding we were planning to attend on Saturday. She had on an expensive new dress she just recently bought and I tried on my newly altered suit. She was gushing with excitement over how good I looked in my black suit, and we both went to bed filled with anticipation.
The very next Friday, I am standing in front of my dad’s casket wearing that suit. Sadly, we never made it to the wedding.
That Saturday morning, I was awoken by a frantic call from my mom telling me that my dad was unconscious and being rushed to the emergency room. By Tuesday night, my dad had been pronounced dead, at age 63, from an intracerebral hemorrhage, the second stroke he had in the past 3 years.
That I never got a chance to find out who my dad was. I always knew who he is and what kind of man he has become, but I never fully understood where he came from. Once in a while he would tell us stories about his life, but it was never a complete picture. It was almost as if there are things in his past he rather not remember. As a survivor of poverty, war, and seven years in communist re-education camps, I don’t blame him.
When we first came to this country in 1991, my dad did everything he possibly could to provide for our family. He tirelessly researched the best schools, enrolled us in extracurricular activities, and spent most of his days shuttling us back and forth from where we needed to be. Although we grew up in the Tenderloin, one of worst neighborhoods in San Francisco, almost every weekend my dad would take us to the park to help us escape from the violence and poverty that plagued our neighborhood. I never realized it until now, but it was really my dad who inspired me to love the environment, which ultimately led me to a college degree in Ecology. (A choice that he was rather not fond with I might add…)
He had lived long enough to see us get married, play with his grandchildren, and give me a chance to take him to the park. He had always dreamed of traveling the world seeing all the fantastic things he read about in books and newspapers. It had always been my goal in life to make that come true for him. Even though the last time I wrote about him, it was about his disapproval of our marriage plans, I know that he would be happy to see how great we are as couple. I also know that any doubts he had about our relationship would quickly vanish the moment he sees his first grandkid.
I am thankful
For all the wonderful doctors and nurses at UCSF Medical Center. Especially doctor Kamel, Grossman, and nurse Marja. They were absolutely the most caring and understanding people I could have dealt with. It amazes me that even though as UCSF doctors, they are on top of the totem pole when it comes to importance in society, they treated us as if we were their own family. Thank You for that.
Although this is a pretty gloomy situation, I do want to leave this entry with one lighthearted observation. You see, my dad had ALWAYS wanted me to become a doctor. There was not one weekend when I came home where he did not remind me to study hard so I can go to medical school. I had always brushed him off because I was never interested. However, during the several days that I spent in the hospital waiting room, I saw a lot of good looking young doctors shuffling around the ICU in their white lab coats looking so cool. I have to admit, it did make me, for a second, wish I was one of them. I have no doubt, those were my dad’s last words to me…
Ba means Dad in Vietnamese.