January 15 marks the 2-year death anniversary of my late grandfather, Peter Thanh Nguyen. I was chatting with my granny over the holidays and we were reminiscing about my grandpa. I can’t believe it’s already been 2 years since Ong (Vietnamese word for Grandpa) has left us. Sometimes, it feels like just yesterday when I got the devastating phone call from my mom, tearfully breaking the news to me. I was with my boyfriend, driving back to his place and had to pull over and let him drive the rest of the way.
Prior to Ong’s passing, I had experienced three deaths in my family – two of my paternal uncles and one uncle-in-law. I was not close to any of those particular uncles and the grief that I felt was more due to the pain my cousins and father were suffering from. But Ong and I were very close. I would dare say that out of two dozen grandchildren, I was the closest to Ong, having spent a lot of time with him throughout the span of three decades. So his death hit me very hard. I was part of the team of family members who delivered his eulogy and to this day, I still recite that eulogy in Vietnamese when I am especially missing Grandpapa. For months after the funeral, I would find myself in a deep depression, crying uncontrollably and thinking about the times I had with Ong, moments that I would never have again with him in this lifetime. During the funeral, I remember the priest talking about how the grief will never go away. At the time, it seemed so bleak to hear that because it seemed as though the pain would never end.
But now two years later, I understand the message he was trying to convey. It is true. The grief will always be with you when you lose a loved one. But that grief ebbs with time and in its place are memories of that person to keep their spirit alive.
The one thing Ong was always terrified of was that he would be forgotten. When we were both living in Las Vegas, I drove him to the casinos all the time, as he had stopped driving by then. I would drop him off at the casino so he can play the slots and I would go shopping and run my errands. For some reason, Ong was always scared that I would forget about him and leave him stranded. I thought it was funny and a bit strange at the time. Why would I forget to pick up my grandpa? But now that I think about it, those were very endearing moments. Especially when Ong borrowed a stranger’s cell phone to call me in a frantic panic, scared that I had already gone home without him. I want to keep his spirit and memory alive by sharing my stories of him with everyone. I believe, without a doubt, that Ong is watching over me up in Heaven, keeping me safe and leading me from harm’s way.
Here is my eulogy for Grandpapa:
My grandpa was a great man who lived an extraordinary life. I was fortunate enough to be able to spend a lot of time with him throughout my life. When I was a teenager, he would often share stories about his life in Vietnam. How he wanted to be a priest when he was a young boy and how he later became a Lieutenant Colonel in the South Vietnamese Army. He shared his war stories with me and talked about how hard he worked throughout his life – from Vietnam to adjusting to life in America.
My grandpa was one of the greatest men I’ve ever had the honor of meeting and knowing. I love you Grandpa and I will miss you every day of my life.
He lived a grand life and leaves behind an amazing legacy.
Ong Ngọai cua con that dang kinh, vi Ong da song một cuộc song that cao thương. Con cam thay minh rat may man da được su chum lo va thương yeu cua Ong trong doi cua con. Luc con con nho, Ong thương ke con nghe ve cuộc doi cua Ong khi ô Viet Nam. Ong da tung muốn tro thanh một linh muc tu khi con be. Nhung roi sau do, Ong da tro thanh Trung Ta trong Quan Doi Viet Nam Cong Hoa. Ong thương chia se voi con nhung ky niệm thôi trinh chiến, cung nhu nhung su kho khan cua ngọai khi moi tu Viet Nam qua My.
Ong Ngọai la một người dang yeu va dang kinh nhat trong dôi con. Con thương Ngọai rất nhiều va con se nho đen Ngọai mai mai.