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Today, marks the day of 12 years since my father’s sudden heart attack right before my eyes. Today, I celebrate 12 years of my father’s time with me here on earth. Today, I honor another 12 years of my life without an earthly father but celebrate those same 12 years with a perfect, Heavenly Father. Today, I’m thankful for 12 years of chosen dependence and another 12 years of unchosen independence. Growing up without a father adds several years to your life or can take away several more. In the crossroads of our life where circumstances you’d never expect hit you harder than you’d ever think, we always have two choices: to grow and gain or to wither and withdraw.

My father was 15 years older than my mother. He was a man that was relentless and fearless. He didn’t speak a lot, but his actions spoke louder than any words could. He was a leader and a fighter. He was a Colonel in the Army to fight for freedom for a nation he loved. He lived a tough life and had a tougher wife. My mom never compromised, nor conformed. She always sacrificed what was right and what was best for the family. Just after my father’s death, she worked two full time jobs over 80 hours a week. She did this while raising 3 kids and being a committed leader in the church. I am thankful to have two incredible, supporting role models.

Although my father is not with me today, his death brought me new life. There isn’t a day where I don’t think about my father. There isn’t a day where I am not inspired to achieve greater goals and to dream bigger dreams because of him. There isn’t a day where I find refuge in trying to add more value in other people’s life. There will never be a day where my father’s death won’t stretch me or inspire me to be better. There will never be a day as hard as it was seeing my father pass right before my eyes.

If my father was still here today, I would probably be living life in a comfortable bubble. I wouldn’t have the courage to be a change agent when needed and I would be limited by my own selfish desires. I would be still working on a lifelong goal to overcome my fears. I would still be a leader, but for the wrong reasons, inspired out of my gain for power, fame, or fortune. I would still be shy and timid. I would have no desire to change the world, for I would think the world revolves around me. Good would mean doing things right, not doing the right things.

To my father who’s looking down from Above, that although I’ve fallen hard many times and have been through even more hardships, I am thankful for you, who gives me strength and courage each day to quickly stand right back up and run even harder. My life would not be the same without you, and would not be the same with, and for this reason, I feel blessed.

Dad, I pray that one day I can live up to whom you always dreamed for me to be…

RIP Phu Quoc Nguyen

Always be in my heart.

4.11.95

Published in LIFE, MY THOUGHTS, PERSONAL | BY PETER NGUYEN