July 02, 2009

It’s been 4 years already… We miss you dad.

We’ve all grown up a little bit more in our own ways, pursuing our dreams and taking advantage of what life has to offer. I even met a wonderful man I’m sure you would approve – his Viet pronounciation is quite excellent. 😛

If you are looking down on us, I hope it is with a smile on your face and pride in your heart.

A breath away is not far to where you are… that’s how close you are to our hearts.

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Remembering a kind soul: Msgr. André Drouin

Earlier this week, I called my grandma to express my condolences after hearing Ong Bay had passed away. After talking to her for a few minutes, she said, “I’ve been meaning to tell you. Remember Father Andre? I only just found out recently that he passed away after a long battle with cancer.”

My heart sank.

That day, I found out that not one, but 2 people dear to me had left this world. And I didn’t get the chance to see either of them one last time.

Click here to read his obituary

Many of you probably don’t know Msgr. André Drouin so let me tell you the story of how I got to know him.

For the majority of my life, my grandparents lived downtown in Ottawa and regularly attended St Anne’s Parish where Msgr. André Drouin resided as pastor.

During my childhood, my sister and I often stayed at my grandparents, and of course, if they went to daily morning masses, then so did we.

I don’t recall since when, but for as long as I can remember, we called him Father André and he loved us. He would acknowledge us with a wink during procession and after every mass, we would wait patiently for our turn to say hello. Once he saw us, he would greet us with open arms and a loud, “Ah, my girlfriends!” while bending down to swoop us up. We’d always give him a peck on the cheek and he would turn us to the other parishioners and introduce us as his girlfriends. He would also always show off a little detail like, “Guess how many languages they speak? Tell them girls. Three languages! And what are they? Yes, English, French and Vietnamese!”

We grew up over the years and no matter how busy, he always had time for us, our grandparents and later – our numerous cousins. Made us feel special and somehow, despite all the people he met, always remembered the little things we told him. During high school I told him I wanted to become a pharmacist. Years later when we met again, he asked about pharmacy even though I had long moved on. He always remembered.

My grandparents eventually moved to our neighbourhood, and as a result, attending mass at St Anne’s became a rarity. Weeks turned into months and months eventually turned into years. My grandparents would see him once in a while, and tell me Father Andre had asked about us. My grandma got his phone number for me and told him I would get in touch.

And I wanted to. I certainly meant to. But life kept getting in the way. Now isn’t that a common excuse you often hear? I was busy with school, then I was busy taking care of my dad, then I was busy with school again, then busy with preparations of getting ready for Australia.

I never made the time to visit him and now I won’t get chance.

Although it saddens me, it’s now an important reminder of life. Never be too busy to make time for those you care about. Time flies, situations develop and people change. Nothing and nobody will wait for you, nor will they be around forever. ❤

Father Andre was definitely someone who was able to find time for other people, read about his caring side HERE and HERE

Rest in peace.
January 01, 1934 – June 04, 2012

Photo #124: Our Last Family Photo

July 2, 2012

3 years ago today, a great father left this world – mine.

This man fled Vietnam by boat and survived years in a refugee camp during which time he nearly died – more than once.

When he finally made it to Canada, he met his daughter for the first time – me.

With literally the clothes on his back, he endured hardship and racism in a new country – without speaking the language.

But he laboured hard, lived meagerly and sacrificed – he made a living.

He embraced a new culture and nourished a growing family – built a strong foundation for a new beginning.

He bought a car and soon he bought a house. He educated his children well and took his family on vacations – accomplishments many take for granted.

Everything was going well. Then came life-changing news – the diagnosis of liver cancer.

Five years followed. Happy moments. Hard times. Surgery. Chemotherapy. Pain. Relapses. Hope. Family.

The father once so reserved now spent hours a day just talking with his children – he wanted more time with his family.

The dad who preferred staying in to save money now encouraged his children to enjoy the pleasures of life as often as possible – he had regrets.

The man who never liked being the subject of photography now wanted to be in as many pictures with family as he could – he didn’t want to be forgotten.

The husband who seemed so strong now often spilled his fears as well as tears – he was afraid to die.

The man who told us to share with him all that was in our hearts because he was going to die in 3 days – he foretold his death.  

The man who hugged us, who kissed us, who cried with us and wished he didn’t have to leave us – he accepted his fate.

The man who had to remain sedated until he passed away – hopefully he knew no pain.

The man whose breathing slowed until he took his last breath – died surrounded by a stronger, more loving family.

The man who has shaped the person I am today – my father.

Dad, I will forever miss you and love you. My memories of you and your teachings will have a permanent place in my heart.

Today, in his memory, I post the last picture we took together as a family – Jenni’s high school graduation on June 24, 2009.