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The Happy Tooth
HARD DECISIONS AND ENDLESS LOVE LESSONS FROM MY FATHER
The first time I heard my dad making jokes around the Sunday dinner table, I was shocked. Throughout my whole life, Dad had always been a quiet, reserved man. To see him laugh and joke around with my mom was a huge surprise. Of course, these jokes were made after we moved to the United States. When we still lived in Vietnam, I only got to see my dad briefly during the year, when my siblings and I would visit him in the summer. My dad fought for the South Vietnamese army during the Vietnam War, and
“My dad is a great role model and the kind of man who knows how to make tough decisions that will benefit his family in the long run.”
wanted us to live where we would have to learn English and assimilate into the culture so our family could better adapt to life in the U.S. It was hard, but today I’m grateful my dad made those hard choices so we could have a better life here. I have learned so much thanks to my dad, through the decisions he made, the lessons he taught me, and by watching who he is as a person. My parents have been happily married for 45 years, and I think that has to do with how committed my dad is to my mom. Both my mother and I can be strong- willed, and I don’t imagine we’re always the easiest people to get along with. But I’ve seen how my dad makes things work by letting my mom be who she is. During the time when my husband and I went through a rough patch, I tried to take a page from my dad’s book and be patient, loving, and let my husband know how much I care about him.
after the war, the government never let him come back to the city. Much like my relationship with my mother, I wouldn’t get to know my father well until our family moved to the United States when I was 16. One of the first real father-daughter memories I have with my dad is when he taught me how to drive. In Vietnam, my grandfather taught me how to ride a bike. It took a month because I’m a slow learner when it comes to vehicles, and I kept looking at the road and falling. When I was a teenager in the U.S., my dad took on the challenge of teaching me how to drive a car. It took a bit longer than when I learned how to ride a bike, but my dad was very patient with me. He wanted to make sure I would always be able to take care of myself. A few years later, when I was going into my second year of college, my dad said I could have the car, but only if I learned how to change a tire myself. I insisted I would never need to change a tire, and if I did, I would have a friend do it for me. Dad wouldn’t budge, so I eventually relented and learned. I’m glad I did, because I ended up getting a flat twice while I was at school. Thanks to my dad, I was able to change it to the spare all by myself. My dad is a great role model and the kind of man who knows how to make tough decisions that will benefit his family in the long run. When we first came to California, I wanted to live in an area where there were other Vietnamese immigrants so I could feel more at home. But my dad
This Father’s Day, I want to celebrate my dad. I wouldn’t be where I am today without his support and guidance.
Thank you for everything you’ve done for me. I love you.
–Dr. Justene Doan
June 2018 Edition
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