I imagine how it was like to be my Dad. He was 25 when he had my Sister and 27 when he had me. By age 29-30 he made the huge jump to come to America. The details remain murky, a reminiscence of the Mekong River where my family lived beside. I can only imagine what it would be like to pack whatever you can, take what you know, then adapt in good ole 'Merica; the Land of Dreams. The Land of the Free.
He lands his first job at Jack in the Box. For that, I can't hold too many grudges on that fast food chain. Gave my Father a chance to grease his bearings and get his act together. I was practically 2 years old when we immigrated from Laos. To think what he must have gone through. You can believe the parallels in thinking about yourself in your late 20's flying to a country where you know nothing of the culture, barely any knowledge of the language, and the economic system. Now add a wife, two kids, and one coming soon.
Our family never bloomed into the happiness that I grew up believing in. To live was to struggle. That struggle came from our shortcomings trying to make honest living. My parents would fight, most because of money, the house, each other, you name it. I don't think I ever saw the two smile from each other's presence, or joke with each other. I saw this growing up. It will never leave me. But through all of their struggles with love, I learned the power of perseverance. They knitted the family strong; they loved nothing more than their kids. My Mom or Dad never regretted us kids. My Father pushed through all his work and never blamed us for failures. What I saw through my Father was the strength to fight on when hope was a dim smoke hallucinated of his own fumes. A smoke that believed the spark would return.
To my Dad, that spark always returned. He'd make it happen. Just a small light of hope was enough to push through the years. He never boasted of money. He gave me a valuable lesson and I loved him saying it. "Don't talk too much". Then as the years went by, he would add, "Just do". Granted, my Dad can communicate well in English, Russian, and Lao. Yet he speaks about things that matter. He speaks when he needs to. He doesn't like adding the unnecessary layers. This man gave me my character.
He started a Printing Business shortly after. The opportunities presented itself with the help of the American Dream. No matter how small the chance, Father Wolf went all in. He gambled a true man's gamble, the risk in working hard in small business to make ends meet. All of this while shrugging off the cards at the poker table. That was not his gamble nor his care. Down the line, technology evolved and things became more digital. His printing business was dropping. He decided to try his hand at a restaurant. Opening one was something he always wanted to do. It is close to two years running currently. We stand here, more than two decades from our first footsteps in America, and he trudges on. Carries on his path with his hands, his mind, and his will. Not once do I hear him wanting an easy way out of this.
Today is his Birthday. I love him. I only wish to be half as cool as he is. I only wish to aid him after so many years of sacrifice. I keep my mouth shut and let my work speak for itself. His voice will slip through my head and I can laugh but respect his whole "Don't talk too much" tidbit. It is a motto I live by. With his Birthday, I dedicate this post and a gallery to him. Everyday is a day for me to think about how I will help him. I've always aided his work, and although he will not take money from me, he always had a hard working son. I promised him a BMW. I for fuck sure will stop at nothing to get it. It is a stamp that his American Dream is fulfilled. Call it materialistic, call it dumb, call it superficial even. But before you do, consider living a life where the grind is all you knew, and trucks were what you've driven your whole life because you ran a 24/7 business while raising three children and paying for the rent since we could never afford to buy a house. Now add that to a slowly aging business where being obsolete could mean the end. I'd say, his life of work deserves some damn good times, and something shiny at the end of the road. I'm giving him that. In all the work I do, I'll find a way.
Together we've done a lot. It will soon be my turn to sacrifice it all. I will gladly do that when the time comes as I promised him I would take care of him when he can't work any longer. In the meantime, our time together makes our struggles seem weightless.
After all, he is a Pilot of His Own Will.
Happy Birthday, Cool Guy.
~Snap Pilot 17