Monday, November 7, 2016

The Chain of Chance

When I was a little child, I loved listening to my father talking about my grandfather’s precarious life. I still remember the rhyming lines that I used to hear all the time. “Life is the chain of chance” and “you’ve got to try”. Those memories are still in my heart and silence in my head. My childhood was full of remarkable stories about my grandfather. After the Vietnam war, the entire country tried to start over. Fortunately, my grandfather was in the first group of Vietnamese refugees that entered the United States between 1975 and 1977. By the time my mother had the third child, my father had emigrated from Vietnam to the U.S as my grandfather wished. The chance that my father took obviously wasn’t easy for him. While my father was trying so hard to assimilate to American culture, my mother also was having a tough time to deal with her committed life with three children in the house. My mother lived in the difficult moments in her life, a hand on her brow, a crying voice from young children in her ear. My family suddenly fell down to the black hole of life after my father decided to challenge himself to an America dream, but he didn’t realize that it was also a huge step for my mother and his children facing the darkest moment in my family life.

Living without a father in the family is like a person who has lost a right hand. A case of point, my mother suddenly had a burden after my father moved to the U.S, because she had a full time job that always took place her resting time. My family was living with my mother, my brother, and my two older sisters in a small wooden house with palm leaves roof far from the city. I am sensibly proud of our house now, and most especially I am proud of our metal roof. In order to handle affordable life, my mother was working in a cashew garden which meant she was collecting and packing cashew from seven am to eleven pm. she also kept a job as a knitter on the weekend because she was deeply in love with knitting from when she was a little child. As my father said, she barely had time to sleep because of her young children were always crying at midnight. During the period when my father and my mother separated, the only way to keep in touch was writing letters. My father recognized that my mother letters wrote him all about supporting and caring him, but never a complaint. However, he knew that she was desperate. The worst part for my mother was the social stigma of women living with children without a husband. My mother was strong, brave, and gallant enough. Working hard to save money was not enough for that tricky life. My mother got paid just very a little from work, but she was proud of herself to be the one saving her children life, proud of herself to be the one who could feed her children and take them to school with her left hand. Inevitably, my father couldn’t stand the idea of letting his wife work by herself anymore. Across the ocean, an America dream was blown away by disillusionment.

The house was filled with motivation and happiness when my father came back Vietnam from the U.S. He is a man who has a droopy mustache like a fish hanging from a cat’s mouth but his smile is peaceful enough to make his wife feel safer. The rising sun finally flashed on the palm leaves roof. My father started looking for a job and helped my mom take care of the kids at midnight in order to let my mom catch up on some sleep. My father started renting a cashew garden and growing plants. My family moved out of the village and bought a house near a city. The fact that my father left his America dream behind his back for a while to take care of the family impressed me, and that made my mind think about the life he always admired. When I turned eighteen years old, I asked myself which of my many dreams shall claim my heart, and that question pops in my head all the time. I was only confused and lost. Perhaps my father knows me more than I do, so he gave me the idea of living abroad. He guided the way for me, and he gave me the chance which was also from my grandfather.

At the moment when I got off the airplane in the United States, I stood with my head poking out of the window, like a baby popped out her head at her birth, taking a look out there at the world she was about to come into. I took my father’s dream and my mother’s blessing with me to a foreign country ready for a battle. I quickly got along with the community and society. I found who I am in this strange land. My life was suddenly full of chances and the best chance is still the one that I took from my father. Although my father couldn’t make this intense life work out, I can now imagine how hard it was for him. Over the years, my father has been building his family and earning money for my education. However, I still don’t want to use his money and free myself to not worry about food or clothes. I gave myself a chance to work a part time job besides school. I love experiencing professional environment and seeing how far I can reach. The further I complete myself in a good way, the more I feel thankful to my father. Of course I was nervous, and I failed a few times during the process finding a job, but sticking in my head is my father’s rhyme “life is the chain of chance”. “I am trying,” I said. My voice sounded small, distant enough that my father might hear me, and it was coming from the bottom of my heart.

As long as I keep trying, my father will always be there for me. He keeps teaching me by his experiences and sometimes saying it as a rhyme. My wonderful, brave, charming, talented father gave me this life. The old life was gone. Gone is the time that my mother was trying to save the entire family without a man, gone is the moment my father burst into tears reading his letter from my mom or when my family was living in the house under the palm leaves roof. There is no going back to that old life. In fact, my family has never run away from poverty. We have kept trying and taking numerous opportunities either to survive or get a better life. Although the chance that my father took from his father turned out like a disaster for my family for a while, it was completely worth it. Of course my mother failed in her life, I failed even more than her, and also my father failed in his America life. However, we excuse ourselves by thinking that life is the chain of chance. As long as we are still alive, we would never miss out any opportunities.


  1. I really enjoyed your essay. Your father's words remind me the phrases that my father used to say me all the time. Those words are like tattoos in our hearts. Thanks to share your story.

  2. This is a good essay. I can see how your family change. Your father and your mother are very brave and responsible.


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