Happy Father’s Day to my dad who has persevered through so much in order help our family SURVIVE, and eventually THRIVE in America. Let’s backtrack.
My grandfather ran a pretty successful rice mill in Vietnam but when the communists arrived, they knew it would all be destroyed. So my grandparents prepared my dad and his brother to escape Vietnam first. My grandma sewed some money into the lining of my uncle’s pants and silently cried as she let go of her 2 young boys.
Before my grandparents could figure out their next step, the communists threw my grandpa in jail (just for being a businessman) and then literally tossed my grandma in the jungle to starve and get eaten alive by the animals.
Because no letters were allowed into or out of Vietnam during the war, my dad and uncle had NO IDEA that their father had been captured and that their mother had suffered a stroke from the stress of not knowing if her husband was dead or alive…and not knowing if her young sons were dead or alive.
Meanwhile, my dad found himself bussing tables for $2/hr in California while pushing himself through community college without even knowing the language. Imagine reading a textbook but having to look up every single word in the dictionary. However, he didn’t let his broken English or the racism he faced stop him from pursuing an education. My dad ended up earning a Masters in Engineering and got a real job that could support his new wife and then eventually, my sister and I.
2 years later, my grandparents escaped Vietnam. They came here with absolutely NOTHING, but it didn’t matter, because the family was reunited.
After they settled in, my dad and his father built a little house that eventually I’d grow up in. When I say “built”, I mean, literally – by hand. Every nail, every wood panel, every shingle. It was a tiny box about the size of a small 1 bedroom apartment, but that’s where everything began again. The Ho Family REBUILT themselves.
I know I’ve spoken harshly about my father before, but as I get older, I now understand that every time he pushed me to study harder or yelled at me to run faster, it was to teach me how to become EXACTLY the person I am today.
I am grateful for my father, for my grandfather, for my grandmother, for all the generations before me that suffered to get me to where I am today. Happy Father’s Day dad. Thank you for teaching me how to never give up.