It’s still all good. Family is managing, work is better than ever, furkids still remember me…and so I’m back. A lot has happened, quite intensely in the last six weeks, so I had to stop blogging a bit to just take a vacay from my thoughts. Writing can be good in that it exorcises the pain from your head. Yet by the same token it can be bad in that it rehashes things you’d rather forget. But some things in life should be recorded, when emotions are at their rawest, so that down the road you know what it truly means to say this, too, shall pass.
In october 2009 I wrote about a very special couple, my aunt and her husband. After their anniversary celebration we joked that I’d be the one to plan their 40th anniversary party. Sadly, on July 19, I went back to Sacramento to help my aunt M emcee Uncle G’s funeral service instead.
I’ve debated whether I should write about something as personal as this at all, but I think it was such a special ceremony with so many multicultural nuances, that celebrated the life of such an uncommonly good man, that it should be commemorated here so that when the sadness subsides, we can remember that we did all right by him in saying goodbye.
Besides being the best stay-at-home dad to my cousin ML –he’d retired from the 30 years of civil service by the time she came along–he was a devoted husband, a Marine who had earned his fair share of Purple Hearts, and an avid fisherman. I was very young when Uncle G was introduced to us in Vietnam, where he married my aunt. Fast forward a short time later, after the fall of Saigon in 1975, I met him again but this time in Michigan where we had settled after immigrating to the United States. My father was going through a major depression at this time (unbeknownst to all of us who were all dealing with the trauma of the move anyway) and Uncle G packed us all up to drive us cross country so that my mom would have family support from my aunt in Georgia.
The only clear memory I have from this drive was sitting next to my older sister in the front seat near Uncle G at some point and looking at the the unfamiliar winding roads and the falling leaves. Were those the Blue Ridge mountains? Everything felt so foreign at that time, the world so big, and still I felt completely safe next to this man who was literally larger than life to me.
In Georgia he taught us how to fish and how to appreciate the beauty of nature. When i was squeamish about hooking the worm to my fishing rod, he told me to just do what’s uncomfortable and get it over with quickly so that we could get to the good stuff. I can honestly say that I still take this advice to heart to this very day in everything I do (or as I put it: suck it up for now then let’s go shoe shopping!). So if my head is full of sunshine even if I’m wading through a monsoon, it’s because of life lessons like these that can happen on any ordinary day, should one be so lucky as to encounter an extraordinary human. Even though we moved to Texas not too long after, once my dad sought treatment for the depression and found a job in San Antonio, I always think about those days in Georgia with my aunt and uncle fondly.
I won’t write much more about the funeral service itself, other than to say it was a wonderful blend of Vietnamese, American, Buddhist, and military traditions. These next three photos capture everything I could possibly ever verbally express:
A couple of weeks after the funeral I came back to Dallas to spend time with my parents for my father’s ongoing recovery. My mom told me that on my aunt’s wedding day, all those 38 years ago, Uncle G promised my grandmother that he would always take care of his new wife for the rest of his life. My grandmother passed away quite some time ago, but I bet you somewhere out there in the universe, their paths might cross so that my grandmother could thank him for keeping his promise.