This is Jacqueline T.D. Huynh. Today I am speaking to you with a broken heart. my father’s heart stopped beating on Monday, July 15, 2019, at 11:38 PM
Parent Pump Radio will be airing some top listened to past episodes for the next few weeks. We will return the first week of August with brand new episodes so that my family and I can take the time to grieve.
It all happened so fast. He was rushed to the hospital that morning because his speech was slurred and the right side of his lip was curled up. We were told he had a massive brain hemorrhage and that he wouldn’t survive. There were probably 2 dozen family members who rush to his side throughout that day and so many more on the phone, text message and Facebook. He was only able to hold on until 11:38 pm.
Stories have been coming in from family members all over. We're realizing what a wondering man he was not just to his children but to all the family members.
Daddy was a man of service to his country. He served as an officer in the South Vietnamese Army fighting alongside American soldiers in the Vietnam War. On April 25, 1975, five days before the collapse of our country, he was able to send my mom, my 4 younger sisters, and myself on a cargo plane to Guam for safety so that he could stay and fight for our country knowing we were safe. On April 30, when Saigon collapsed and was in chaos he still would not stop saving people. He rescued people into his Jeep and gathered more people on the boat to escape.
He worked in social service for years after we arrived in the US so he could continue to be of service. He helped dozens of Vietnamese refugees get settled here. It was important to him that we all be an asset to the community and to the US (He always came from gratitude). My father was part of the movement that created what we know now as Little Saigon in Westminster, CA, which now has the largest Vietnamese population in the world outside of the country itself.
He was the kindest, gentlest, most emotionally intelligent and patient man I know. Not once have I heard him raise his voice or get mad. He spoke very little but when he spoke you knew it was something important. I remember he would come to UC Irvine to pick me up on Saturday mornings to come home for visits. There were Fridays that I was out late and didn’t come back to my dorm room. He would just sit in the car waiting patiently for when I got back. (Before cell phone or pagers). He never got mad that he had to wait or didn’t know where I was. He was just glad to see me.
He always thought of others first. He never wanted to inconvenience anyone, be fretted over, or cause anyone pain.
Fifteen years ago, my youngest sister, Tina, passed away at 30 years old and my grandmother passed away 3 months later. It was excruciatingly painful for him and all of us to go through the day of their passing, then again at the memorial service and then again when we scattered their ashes. He talked about how his heart broke 6 times in that 3-month period. He felt so bad that people were taking time off work and spending so much money coming in for their services last minute. He was adamant that when he passed he didn’t want his loved ones to go through the same.
His last wishes were that he wanted to donate his body to the UC Irvine Willed Body Program for science and research (even in death he wanted to be of service). He only wanted his loved ones to go through saying good-bye one time. He wanted us to take time to grieve and then come together at a later planned time to celebrate his life.
He is in heaven with the Creator. He is free, at peace, running and jumping happily with his baby girl, Tina, and his parents. We know his love for us is endless and now he is in a place where he can have boundless energy to be of service to everyone. He will forever be in our hearts.
Now more than ever I realize how important leaving a legacy is. Not just a legacy in money but a legacy in who you are, your compassion, your values, purpose, how you made people feel, even down to your mind/body/spirit connection. Because those are the things your children and grandchildren will remember you by. As Maya Angelou said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. Think about how you want to be remembered.
To all the people who have lost a loved one, I hope this touching poem will help….
As for grief, you’ll find it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you’re drowning, with wreckage all around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was and is no more. And all you can do is float. You find some piece of the wreckage and you hang on for a while. Maybe it’s some physical thing. Maybe it’s a happy memory or a photograph. Maybe it’s a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float. Stay alive.
In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don’t even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you’ll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they still crash all over you and wipe you out. But in between, you can breathe, you can function. You never know what’s going to trigger the grief. It might be a song, a picture, a street intersection, the smell of a cup of coffee. It can be just about anything…and the wave comes crashing. But in between waves, there is life.
Somewhere down the line, and it’s different for everybody, you find that the waves are only 80 feet tall. Or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas, or landing at O’Hare. You can see it coming, for the most part, and prepare yourself. And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of the wreckage, but you’ll come out.
Take it from an old guy. The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don’t really want them to. But you learn that you’ll survive them. And other waves will come. And you’ll survive them too. If you’re lucky, you’ll have lots of scars from lots of loves. And lots of shipwrecks
To Daddy…I love you forever and always with all my heart. Until we meet again!!!