The beautiful thing about photos is that it can verify your imagination's visualizations of a time you no longer live in or that you've never lived in.
This has always been my favorite picture of my dad.
This is how I always imagined him when he used to tell me stories of him back in Vietnam being rebellious, causing trouble, partying, smoking grass, hustling in the streets, being a ladies man. This was the face that won my mother over. He’s been married 6 times and my mother was his 5th.
I've always remembered his story about their escape from communist Vietnam. His father died in the war and his mother and other siblings escaped during the war and left for France. He was left behind at the age of 15 to grow up with his brother. Before my dad turned 18 – the age to be drafted into the army, he started hiding out and running around the city to avoid going being recruited. He eventually left the city with my mom and headed into the countryside, stayed there with my grandmother for a few months until he was able to convince them to leave the country. One night they finally decided to take that risk and leave in hopes of being saved and taken to the states. Shortly after leaving the shore, the light tower caught their boat and were then chased by the coast guards into the ocean. Several bullet holes were put in the sides of the boat and it wasn't long before the boat started flooding and slowly sinking. They started scooping water out of the boat, and started throwing over the things they had packed with them, including photo albums. This was one of the ones that made it. They were floating in the ocean for days. Dehydrated. Hungry. Scared. Burning dry skin from the hot sun. Nauseous from the constant boat rocking and circled day and night by sharks. They were eventually picked up by a boat and sent to Singapore to stay in a refugee camp. Shortly after that, they were sent to Canada. Soon after landing in Toronto and seeing snow for their first time (while wearing slippers) I was born. The rest is history.
This is the face of the then 24 year old man who risked his life in order for my family and I to live this way.
I've always been a family man, but being a father now makes me appreciate my father and his sacrifice that much more. I can only hope to live in such a way to add to the richness of my family history and legacy to pass on to my children and their children.
It ain't father's day, but cheers to you, dad. Im grateful for you everyday.