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.