Tuesday, June 21, 2011

"Any man can be a father, but it takes a special person to be a dad."

Father's Day brings up a lot of different thoughts and sentiments. We've been honoring our mothers with a national holiday for some time now, but it was only in 1972 that President Nixon made Father's Day an official, national holiday. With good reason.

The first thought person that comes to mind is my own dad. I don't mean to brag, but he truly is an extraordinary person. So extraordinary, that the Minnesota History Center has made him part of their Oral History Project where they've interviewed influential figures in Minnesota and published the stories to remain in their library for at least a century.

My dad was born and raised in Bac Lieu, Vietnam. After his dad passed away when my dad was only 14, he left the countryside and headed to Saigon to find work to support his family. He luckily met my mom there and says that they flirted here and there but since he traveled around to follow work opportunities, they didn't start a relationship. My mom wouldn't have any of that and kept her eye on him until they were finally together.

My parents left Vietnam around the time of the Vietnam War (or the American War as it's known in VN) to go to the U.S. They took a ridiculously small boat, packed full with other refugees and ended up in Palau Bidong, Malaysia, where my oldest sister was born. After over a year, they finally made it to the States and were sponsored by a family in Iowa. My dad, in an effort to get out of his construction job in the cold, headed to Minnesota to find work. (I don't think he read any weather reports...). He started out as a tool crib attendant in a machine shop, and eventually became more interested in the field so he took classes on machining, became a machinist, became a manager, started his own small branch of the company, and then became the owner years later. My dad is an extremely hard worker. He always keeps his promises, will do anything to get his work done (even sleep at work) and never complains about it.

I couldn't walk a mile in his shoes, but I sure would like to follow in his footsteps.

The other thought I have today is how fortunate I am to have my dad around. I know a lot of people (too many) whose dads have already passed away. It makes me so sad to think that they can't celebrate this day as most people can. But then I think, they can. It's a special day to excavate all of the great memories they have had with their dads and to honor them. I have a feeling they are still with us in some small and big ways. 

I saw a Father's Day facebook status that was a heartbreaker: "If Heaven wasn't so far away, I'd pack up the kids and go for the day."

My love goes out to all of these people and I wish their hearts peace.

Happy Father's Day, dads.

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