My dad is now officially on the long fight against the Parkinson’s disease. He’s been struggling to keep control of his limbs for the past few years but was never given any conclusive diagnosis.

I’ve seen so many families who struggle to stay afloat after one member succumbed to an illness. I’ve talked with so many that feel helpless and despair. Not only are they losing the joy of living, they’re also burdening others. It has helped me tremendously to sympathize with my dad.

Since I was small, we’ve always said I’m my daddy’s girl. But even though my dad and I are each other’s favorite, we don’t communicate well verbally. We bond through unspoken acts. I was that little girl that proudly rode on the gas tank of my dad’s motorbike. In one of my few girly acts, I insisted on dabbing nail colors on my his toes. He bought me my first coffee and showed me how to make it Vietnamese style with the filter. He stocked up instant noodles and cooked chicken rice congee so that I had something to snack in the wee hours when I was up to watch soccer games on TV on mute to avoid getting caught by my mom. And yet, we don’t talk. He knows so little about my life that I feel guilty. Even now when I call to check on him, I still end up talking and gossiping away with my mom.

With my mom it’s an entirely different story. We joke and tease each other but our personalities and philosophies clash. She loves me fiercely and unconditionally. It took me a long time to finally realize that I love her too, especially for all the things that she went through to raise and provide for me. She started working when she was a few years old. She wove bamboo conical hats, raised chicken and pigs. She sold rice at the train station and peddled bread loaves. I could never have the physical and mental strength to do a third of what she has done. I am beyond grateful and feel a strong sense of duty. It tears at my heart and brings so much guilt as I have to come to term with the fact that my mom does not support me to become who I am. She wants me to have ambitions and to succeed. My mom is fascinated by glamor. She loves watching movies about the old European aristocracy to revel at the grand castles and their luxurious lifestyle. She admires the glittering skyscrapers. To her, life is never not a competition: it’s always about getting higher each day. And me, I feel too lucky and am already complacent with life. I can’t race to the top because I think it will destroy my soul. I still hope one day my mom will  say: It’s ok, as long as you’re a good person, as long as you do not harm others, I’m proud of you.

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