Ode To My Father
My father works hard, he never complains, nor does he ever talk bad about anyone. He does what is needed to be done and then moves on to the next task/job. My father was a teacher back in Laos. He lost his father when he was still a child and ended up living with an uncle. His uncle sent him to school as soon as he was old enough. My father had to walk to the nearest town with a school which could take an entire day walking on foot. He and his uncle also had to build his living quarters since he would be living in the new town during the school term.
By the time my father came to the U.S. he was a young father of two (my sister and me). He tried to continue his education at a local community college but the need to provide for his family drove him to find work. My father enrolled into trade school and became a pastry chef/baker. He would work in that profession for the rest of his working career until he retired a few years ago. Along the way he became a dad three more times (two brothers, one sister).
I remember there were times during the Christmas holiday season where my father would take on a part time seasonal job at the post office sorting mail to make extra money. During those days the family hardly saw him because he went from one job to the next working 15-16 hour days. Even though he worked all day I never once heard him say anything negative or complain about the work. To him, having the opportunity to work and choosing to work and get paid was something to be grateful for.
When my parents were in the refugee camp in Thailand people would hire the refugees to work in their fields with the promise of getting paid. There were times my father would leave the camp to go work these fields thinking he would be able to make a little money to buy food for his family back at the camp only to be sent back with no pay after having worked all day. But still, my father persevered. Each time an opportunity came up he would take the chance of doing the work with the possibility that this employer was a person of their words and would pay their workers.
I don’t think I have ever verbally told my father I loved him or appreciated him for all he has done. But, when the opportunities were there for me to show my love and appreciation I took advantage of those opportunities. My father always wanted a truck. He is an outdoors person who likes to fish and hunt. When he finally purchased a used truck I helped to pay off some of the loan. I also purchased accessories for his truck such as a bed cover and side steps.
I have been fortunate to have many opportunities to bond with my father. We both share a passion for the outdoors. Whenever we are travelling to our outdoor locations we will talk about politics, social issues, life, etc. The first time I gave my father a high five was during an outdoor excursion. It was so spontaneous and it felt so good. I don’t think I will ever forget that moment.
My father is now retired but that hasn’t slowed him down. During the spring and summer months he along with my mother tend their gardens and work the farmer’s market circuit around town. He has also become a pro at bidding at auctions. Every now and then he will travel to produce auctions to purchase produce to supplement the goods that are grown in his garden. I asked him the other day about the inner workings of such auctions. He stated it was a spectacle and it was exciting and that sometimes they even provide free BBQ! I told him I wanted to go with him to the next auction. He laughed and said sure!