Archive | November, 2019

Friends for Life

5 Nov

Scan11 year olds are sponges. They watch and listen and absorb everything that happens, even if they pretend to not care. At least I know that was how I was in the summer of 1975. I remember watching my dad as he navigated his role as “sponsor” of Le Dai Tuong and his young family (his wife, and two sons one 4 and one 2 years old.) The care my father took to help Tuong (Americanized as Thomas) navigate buying a car, getting a job, and finding an apartment exemplified being an advocate-insuring Tom was making the decisions with my dad as support establishing mutual respect.

I’ll never forget how outraged my dad was when a fellow church member hired Tom to do physical labor. Tom was an educated man. Dad said the guy was exploiting Tom. Tom reassured my dad.  We practiced his english by reading the daily paper. I enjoyed helping him, and he taught me to count and say the alphabet in Vietnamese.. 

When my dad realized Su, Tom’s wife, had been separated from her younger siblings when they left the refugee camp, my dad jumped into action and before we knew it, our house had 7, not just 4 extra bodies. I am still not clear how he arranged for Su’s two sisters and one brother to join them, but I wasn’t surprised he made it happen.  Seeing her cry once I knew he would “fix” whatever was wrong. He was my dad. He was Superman. 

The first time Tom and Su had us over for dinner in their new apartment, my dad was so proud. He and Tom drank beer and Su and her sisters buzzed around us serving delicious Vietnamese dishes they made from American ingredients. The boys played with their toys and ran around the table. My mother smiled. We knew we were friends for life.

Tom died unexpectedly on October 31, 2019. My dad passed in January 2010. Their love and examples live on in us.