October 10, 1998, Da Nang, Vietnam
… family and friendships can be most endearing, and often enduring, despite the strained years. On my second visit back to Saigon, and now of my birthplace in Da Nang, or “China Beach” — I am touched, and by no means surprised of how quickly — and intimately those emotions are evoked.
Yes, I shared shots of Johnnie Walker with my father’s best friend — and of course, my family keeps commenting that I am too thin — it worked, and I ate my fill. The nurturing reminds me of just how close we are in spirt — yet so very distant. MDN”
October 26, 2013, Los Angeles, CA
“Those are among the strongest chemotherapy drugs,” my oncologist friend explained to our family.
“Let’s hope he will pull through the treatment.”
We also reviewed the Advanced Health Care Directive, which my father signed to indicate his wishes in the event of medical emergencies. We had to take every precaution as he is about to start chemotherapy this week to treat a tumor in a sensitive region at the intersection of his pancreas and vital organs.
My father has always been a solid pillar of our family… strong-willed, stubborn and bullet-proof (literally, after fighting in and surving the Vietnam War). Now, he and we, are facing the toughest challenge to his well being and our family’s foundation. In a matter of months, the cancer arose unexpectedly and has hit so close to home.
Meanwhile, my brother and I are poised to venture abroad again soon — after several years of being more domestic in our careers and travels since we moved back to Southern California. He is leaving for Afghanistan for several months, while I am about to start the next session of my global M.B.A. studies in Shanghai, and a return trip to Vietnam.
“You need to go. Do what you need to do,” my father told us.
He has never discouraged us from blazing our own paths… whether my brother’s work assignments to conflict-prone areas in the Middle East and South Asia, or as I filled up four passorts on a jet-set career for over a decade. We have always pursued the American dream, whether it took us to far-flung and dangerous locales, or navigating professional twists and personal transitions as we returned to our roots.
After we settled in our new home in the States in 1975, he and my mother have worked hard all their lives until their retirement this year. We would often take our annual vacations in the national parks… Yosemite, Yellowstone, Bryce, Zion and the Grand Canyon and across the Pacific Northwest. These road trips involved a lot of bouncing in the back of a Toyota camper truck across the Western states. Our wanderlust was incubated, and has never been cured as my brother and I lived and studied abroad, eager to roam the world and explore the boundaries of our passions.
“If anything happens, take me to Yosemite.” he said. Yosemite National Park is among his favorite places, and where we went on many camping trips. We would often give him poster prints from Ansel Adams and annual Sierra Club calendars… scenes of plunging waterfalls, snow-flocked trees and the rock solid Half Dome… reflecting upon moonlit valleys and Nature’s unpredictable intentions.