Lúc sáng ngồi viết về Bác Oai rồi mình chuyển tờ cáo phó của Bác vào trong cùng folder mình để hình của Ba. Tay gõ gõ vài phím mình thì hình của Ba hiện lên trên màn hình laptop. Ba nằm trên cái đi văng bằng gỗ, vẫn còn mặc áo phong trần, chưa được tẩm liệm theo nghi lễ an táng. Da Ba đen, đầu tóc hói chỉ còn vài cọng dài, hàm râu bạc trắng.
Mình ước gì lúc Ba nằm đó mình cũng có mặt để tiễn Ba đi.
Cám ơn ai đó đã chụp lại tấm hình đó của Ba, tuy theo phong thức thì cũng không nên, nhưng bây giờ, tận sau hai năm ngày Ba mất, mình cảm thấy như Ba vẫn còn sống chứ chưa ra đi.
Nhìn hình Ba, cổ họng mình lại nghẹn rồi rơi nước mắt lúc nào không hay. Cảm xúc quá!
My father’s childhood friend, I call him Bác Oai, just passed away April 27, and the funeral was held on Friday, May 3, then he was cremated on the 4th. I was unable to visit him because I couldn’t drive up to Orange County on a Friday afternoon and Mr. O was in NYC.
The last time I saw Bác was the night before I flew out to Boston for graduate school. That evening I came to his house for dinner, and later we both sat at the front door having a conversation. I sought his advice about moving away from home, and living on my own. Bác Oai gave me suggestions, and encouragement to live my life. He and my father grew up together in the same neighborhood until their early 20s and both went into the military but were assigned to different posts. After the chaos of 1975, Bác Oai was sent to reeducation camp for many years before coming to the U.S. in mid 1990s. His family arrived in North Dakota and it was my parents who suggested that they move down to Minnesota for the two families to be closer together. They came to live with us for a few months before they were on their feet and found their own rental home.
Then Bác Oai and his wife moved to California in the last ten years or so but I lost contact with them. Not until my brother Khai sent me the notice of his passing that I learned he passed away in Garden Grove. He had a stroke, and then brain dead, similar to the way my father passed away.
I put his notice of death in the same folder that I put photos of my father’s funeral. My father has probably been welcoming Bác Oai somewhere up there and both have plenty of them to reminisce their old time as children in Quận Tư of the old Sài Gòn.
Peanut was being recognized on Monday for being one of the Star students in his class. The teacher commended him for his transition, although not always smooth, but he has grown so much. She mentioned that he reads two grade levels beyond first grade and is also an interesting writer with unique ideas. Nevertheless, he is also a funny kid in class.
His goofiness is scattered everywhere. 😀
PP wrote me a heartfelt note that made me cry.
Dear Mẹ, (Mẹ is Mom in Vietnamese!)
I love you sooo much, thank you for everything you do for me and KG.
I really love the food you make like my favorite soup,
Ya know what’s better…the amazing pics you take.
I am so greatful when you help me with my work.
It’s great you are my mother you are strict,
nice and care about my health and mental health
plus I get to help you cook.
Your 1st born,
He had a few spelling mistakes but I kept it original to look back years later and reflect on this special moment.
Peanut, on the other hand, is a guy with a great sense of humor. He made a big poster and in there he filled in the blank of the following…
1. My Mom likes to…watch Telivision
2. My Mom’s favorite flower is…Peonmi
3. My Mom has taught me…the ABC’s
4. My Mom’s favorite hobby…Grossherie Shopping
5. Mom’s favorite food is…Phở
6. My Mom helps me…at doing my homework
7. My favorite memory with my mom is…My Mom used to help me at the ABC’s
8. My favorite thing to do with my mom is…we go shopping
9. I love my Mom because…she slaps my butt everyday.
Number 9 had me rolling. I do actually slap his butt when I squeeze-hug him every night before bed. I don’t know about #1 and #8 as I don’t watch a lot of TV and definitely don’t do a lot of shopping. But I think he meant grocery shopping. 😀
I lost momentum after a week of being sick and busy. Now I am trying to swing back to the normal routine.
1. Lunch dates
In an effort to bring me out of the house, Mr. O treats me to lunch once or twice a week. We basically visited all the restaurants within three-block radius around our neighborhood, from Italian to Indian to modern all-American fares. There is a diverse group of places to eat in this area but somehow many have mediocre quality, and mostly are overpriced.
2. Kids went to a birthday party
3. Peanut’s class play, Tears of A Dragon, a Chinese-Japanese folklore.
He was one of the sparrows.
In this group, kids are Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and then my Peanut is half Vietnamese. 😀
Ice cream social after the play.