Monday, May 18, 2009

Graduation with Daddy

It was a good weekend. I wish I could have spent more time with him, but I was also studying for a final a few hours after the Public Health graduation. Anyway, I realize I didn't know anything about him. My parents have been divorced since I was 5 or 6, and I grew up living with my mom. When we were in elementary school, my dad would take us out every weekend...and eventually that has decreased to lunches and dinners on holidays and birthdays and when I'm visiting home. I wanted to find something fun or entertaining for him to do, and I had not a clue what he liked. I chose to go to Oakland because there was popular restaurants at Jack London Square and free outdoor dance lessons for the Rumba that day. We tried it a little bit. Father-daughter dance...I've never had one of those. It made me feel kind of emotional. I had really never done anything with my father besides lunch and dinner. No playing sports, no teaching me how to drive a car, no helping me with homework, no- a lot of things. My mom took on a big burden. I don't wanna say it's purely his fault though. It is what it is. My mom tries to avoid him every chance she gets and only reluctantly talks to him when she has to.

Then we went back to Berkeley. He liked it near the college with people constantly up and about and with your occasional dose of weird people singing or screaming or yelling. Based on his comments, I've discovered that he likes lively places. He goes to get yogurt with his friends back at home too just like we do here. He really respects educated people, like people with their PhDs and Master's. All he ever got was his AA degree. He told me a little bit about how he met my mother and how he gave her a pen for her birthday. He told me that my mom was a good wife and a good mother and told me to thank her for raising us.

So many questions unasked and so many stories untold.
I don't know why this is, that we sometimes in our hectic lives forget to ask our parents things...lots of things. Or maybe because we're afraid to ask or to used to the culture of keeping things to yourself, not disclosing too much, not treating parents like friends and asking them too many direct questions. My mom and I talk a lot, and she told me that her and her mom never had this type of relationship, and she claims that is one of the reasons why American culture is good.

I was so scared to ask my mom how my parents got divorced, and never asked her until last year. I didn't even know my mom's refugee story until I was writing a paper on it while studying abroad. I didn't even know my dad helped get provisions for the boat he was on from a US ship because he had self-taught himself English in Vietnam. I found that out from my uncle in Vietnam.

My challenge to you today: Ask your parents a question. Spark a conversation. Listen to their stories.

1 comment:

  1. hey j.pham I hope you know I read this blog like once or twice weekly. I can relate to this in that I have also never really got the chance to ask my parents about their refugee stories.