Happy Birthday, Dad

I wrote this four years ago, five months after he passed and following the Chargers’ key loss last night, I thought about how cyclical life can be. I would like to think that somewhere, my dad is still holding his breathe like me, because, sometimes, hope is all we have… and some intimidating odds. Good luck, Chargers, on your playoff run, and happy birthday, Dad.


Today would have been my dad’s 68th birthday and the first thing I thought of was football.

It’s January 15, 1995, the day of the AFC Championship game. The score is 17-13, Chargers. The Steelers have the ball with time for just one more play, and I am watching my dad’s every move.

He turns up the volume, I get really quiet. He scoots up in his chair, I scoot forward from the floor. The ball is thrown into the end zone. He holds his breath, I cover my face. I peek just in time to see a Charger tip the ball away!

I turn to see my dad jump so high, his hands hit the ceiling. Ignoring his injury, he picks me up and tosses me in the air while yelling, “Chargers go to the Super Bowl! Chargers go to the Super Bowl!”

That moment was all about love. Love for football, love for hope, love for family.

Right now, I feel he’s thinking about football, hoping for a playoff spot, and knowing I’m doing the same.

Like father, like daughter. Happy birthday, dad. ❤

Advertisements

Don’t Stop Believing

That mantra isn’t just for karaoke.

It’s been a few days since the anniversary of my dad’s passing (7/22), and this year, I consciously held off on a post, until today when a friend told me I had too much faith in people.

I, refusing to believe it to be a negative quality, responded, “Faith is what we possess and accountability is what people should have whether or not we believe.”

Story of my life, and invariably, my feelings toward my dad.

He was not a full-time father, but I was a full-time believer. Countless times he’d make well-intended promises that were not-so-well-executed, but my faith never wavered.

My memories are not riddled with fights of the number of Father’s Days, phone calls, birthdays, and graduations he missed. They’re filled laughter, joy, and love for when he came through.

It’s not my job to hold anyone accountable, to make them feel bad for their choices. I’ve made it my job to not take anything for granted, nor turn people away.

I know my belief in him gave him a home to come back to each time, even if it was for one last time.

So today, I know that although he passed alone, my dad knew I loved him, always.

❤ Việt Ca

PS. The Chargers are no longer playing for San Diego, but I’m still excited for us to catch some games when the season begins. 🤣

 

Selfish, but Honest

Today marks an atypical anniversary, a day to reflect about acts of honesty born of selfishness. Let’s rewind a bit, though.

Nine years ago, at my college graduation, my dad asked if I’d move to Houston to take care of my old man. I laughed, whined about humidity, and promised to visit often after landing a great job in San Diego.

We then, unknowingly, took the last photo we would ever take together, just the two of us. After that, he went on radio silence for six years.

Three years ago, today, he broke that silence and called to tell me he was sick, Stage 4 lung cancer. It was then I realized he knew, that day, nine years ago. This man, who had given me everything and asked for nothing, reached out for help for once, and I turned him away.

He passed five months later.

Growing up, my father lived alone and away from the family, so naturally, I thought he preferred it. My selfish moment of honesty seemed harmless at the time, but I still feel pangs of guilt and regret, fruitlessly playing through the what-if scenarios. However, I have come to accept that he too made a choice, a selfish, but honest one. Did our choices forever haunt one another? Perhaps, but were we wrong? No.

Humans, as good as they can be, have selfish needs and sometimes, to prevent resentment, the most selfless act is to be honest about those needs. The consequences may hurt, but I’m finding again and again that, not only is it human to be selfish, but, sometimes, it is the best policy.

My dad and I at my graduation