Anniversary Update | Hi Dad

Hi Dad,

A lot has happened in the last year, and even if it’s a relief you don’t have to deal with it, if only you were here to deal with it with us.

  • COVID-19 is still rampant in the US because people struggle with caring about themselves versus others, while the rest of the world knows they’re not mutually exclusive. If you were here, you may convince Mom to stay in, but then I’d have to worry about you both.
  • Racial relations have elevated from where not being racist is no longer enough, and being anti-racist is an active choice. It’s too bad I never got to know more about your thoughts on matters like this.
  • I did my first oil change! Took three hours, BUT it’s a step up from when you taught me how to check my oil and coolant levels.
Vietca's First Oil Change
  • I started dating and met a lot of… different types. They weren’t keepers, but the stories sure are. Remember the kid who “proposed” to me from another car at a Houston intersection? I still have the ring.
  • I went camping for the first time in years AND finally saw a bear in the wild! Remember that huge bear you got me when I was four, and someone stole it off the truck on moving day?
  • I built my first computer. I mean, I kinda built the others, but was more hands on this time. The first one you got me had a black and green screen. I just found my diary entries on floppy disks.
  • My friends helped me make a pumpkin Halloween costume, but everyone thought I was a strawberry, hot chili, or tomato. I was a… Viet Cà (cà = tomato in Vietnamese). Now that I think about it, I think you told me my first pun, in Vietnamese no less. Something about a lady with a lemon waiting for a boy with a bottle, haha.
  • I used my bilingual skills to make students feel more comfortable in the classroom! Remember the Vietnamese teacher who said my name wasn’t real, and seven year-old me said if she didn’t know it was, she’s not qualified to teach us? I got to spend the whole summer with you learning to read and write.
  • My friends and I had a fierce debate about how to close takeout boxes. I think I won. Remember that bigger-than-me barrel of fortune cookies from your restaurant? I’m taller now, but still collect fortunes. I have a feeling you had something to do with me getting this one.
  • Mom needed a couple of surgeries, and was stubborn about letting others care for her. Guess it runs in the family. She’s better now because we caught it in time. I still wish you told us sooner.
  • I visited Filoli Gardens for my first time, and it was absolutely beautiful! I still love Christmas as much as I did when you bought us our first Christmas tree in the first house we lived in together.

Finally, the Chargers didn’t do very well, but at least the AFC West won it. I still remember that Chargers-Steelers game we watched together that led to the Super Bowl. They’ll get there… soon, I hope.

Sorry, that was a lot, but it was all to say that however much you missed doesn’t amount to how much I miss you this year, today. It was nice catching up.

Love, Việt Ca

The Tie

The Tie

Five years ago, I was able to wish my dad “Happy Father’s Day” in person for the first time in decades… maybe ever. A month later, he passed, and in 2014, I decided it was finally time to let go of some of the sadness I harbored every third Sunday in June.


Through elementary school, it was a way of life to see my dad during his visits, perplexingly never in June. I remember his efforts to stay longer, but never lost hope for I was always rewarded with promises of next time.

Through middle school, it was a way of life to call my dad, purposefully every third Sunday of June. I remember answering machines, but never lost hope for I was occasionally rewarded with his actual voice.

Through high school, it was a way of life to think of my dad, poignantly every day in June. I remember the purchase–a tie, red, soft, and priced at $20, a fortune to a freshman who just discovered the world of work. I remember his wavering responses about a Father’s Day visit, but though I never lost hope, the visit that never came left me with the tie.

Instead, I was rewarded five years later at my college graduation, but his surprising arrival met with his not-so-surprising departure before Father’s Day, which, once again, left me with the tie.

Even still, my hope was rewarded six years later with a phone call–he was sick. As fate would have it, my cousin’s wedding was later that year in June, but also as fate would have it, I couldn’t find the tie. This pinnacle moment, years in the making, and the tie would not surface.

My August plans to visit and gift my gift were soured, for just before the end of July, he passed, and for one final time, left me with the tie.

These are the ties he left behind. My tie isn’t in there, but after years of trying to give him this one measly gift of fabric, it was he who was rewarding me with his inadvertently lessons to believe in people, in hope, in love, and in gratification that is not always instant.

Though he never knew of the tie and all its meaning during his life, I’ll never give up hope that he is in a better place where he now knows, and my tie to him was always there.

#HappyFathersDay. I miss you. 

The Tie