If I Had Wings: A Short Story

By ODP


My family and I came to America right after Jimmy Carter left office. My first American memory arrived at John F. Kennedy airport, where we landed. It was cold in America, I remembered that very well. What I don’t remember, however, was what the smiling, greeting new people were saying to my mother and father, just that there were more of them than us. The hands of the smiling new people, as they would take turns holding my face, were warm. As a gift, they gave me a Snoopy doll and that continued to keep me warm.

In the town next door to where we lived, there were many factories. My father had gotten a job in one where steel was woven into mesh. A few years before he was able to buy his red Chevy Malibu station wagon, he rode to work on his Raleigh bicycle. He went to great pains to provide for and even worked overtime on Saturdays which made it possible for our little family of seven to live.

My father’s callous hands were always soiled. Even after he washed them, there was always that bit of dirt underneath his nails where the soap and water missed. Some days, he’ll come home from work and ask me to pull out a steel thorn from the palm of his hand. “Your vision is better than mine,” he’ll explain in Lao. On his day off on Sunday, he would work on the garden of our yellow house, planting and harvesting crops for our dinner table. He used to tell us that his work in the garden was “relaxing.” We had all different kinds of vegetables in our garden then, like tomatoes, cabbage and eggplant.

The seven of us lived in the yellow house for less than two years. Afterwards, we would have no choice but to move. I missed living there, because there was a park next door, complete with a spiral slide, jungle gym and a big grassy field. Whenever I went down the spiral slide, I’d imagine that I was flying. When it was time for dinner, my mom would need only to stick her head out the window to call for me. There was Shopwell and an ice cream store across the street from the house. My big brothers would put me inside the emptied shopping cart and push me across the street, running and laughing whenever they did. It was warm there. It was everything an American kid could ever want.

I always had questions for my father and he would seemingly always have an answer ready for me. My parents would travel it seemed to me then, hours and hours just to buy Lao groceries. I asked my father then “Dad, why do we have to travel so far to buy food when there’s a supermarket across the street?” He would then answer me by saying, “They don’t have our food here.” On the weekends, my dad would keep us inside and have us study Lao. “Dad,” I would ask him, “Why can’t I go outside and play?” He would explain to me that, “American society makes us forget our culture. I’m making sure that you remember it.” But the problem is that I don’t remember it. As hard as I try, I cannot remember it. Sometimes I’m thankful that I don’t remember.

The kids I grew up with were not like me. They were much different. They didn’t dress like me, didn’t act like me. Their parents drove cars my parents didn’t drive. But that wasn’t it. Being around them brought home the reality of how far my family and I had come and how much further we have to go. They only spoke one language. I don’t know how it came to be that I learned two languages fluently. So much had gotten lost in the translation.

One of the warmest memories I have growing up is one of my earliest memories. In the home of one of the smiling people with the warm hands that greeted our family, I spent under the care of a nanny. Before and after kindergarten, my mother would bring me to their house before going to work. There, I would spend time with a certain little girl a year younger than I was (It was because my family and I came to America late that I was a year behind in my academics). She has blonde hair and blue eyes. Her and I used to watch Sesame Street and Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood together. I remember wanting to ask Oscar the Grouch why he was so grouchy and if the Cookie Monster ever got thirsty for a glass of milk from eating all of those chocolate chip cookies. Those are just some of the things that didn’t make sense to me then. However, being close to her made perfect sense to me. Years later, after this certain little girl became a lady, I would ask her to dance with me at our graduation dance. During a slow song, I held her close to me, not ever wanting to let her go.

After Ronald Reagan left office, my mom left my dad. It seemed that their fighting ensued as soon as we had arrived. They had fought constantly with one another, usually in the privacy of their bedroom. They would close the door when they did, as if it would somehow dampen the tension between them. Outside, I along with my brothers and sisters would listen in complete silence, as the head members of our family grew more and more distant from one another. It was during this time that my nephew arrived. Through the cold of confusion and hostility within our family, he arrived like a warm breath of air. Unmarried, my sister stayed with a friend during her pregnancy. I used to ride my bike during the weeks leading up to my nephew’s birth to visit my sister and see how she was doing. It was hard to believe that I would be an uncle at the age of twelve. On the eve of his birth, I dreamt of making the acquaintance of another dragon.

My mother didn’t want me to play football. I made the decision to play Pop Warner football on my own. It wouldn’t be until middle school, in the eighth grade would I be able to play on the High School’s modified football team. All of my friends were playing, so naturally, I wanted to play as well. “What if you get hurt?” she would ask me. The truth was that I played hurt all of the time, but I loved it. Only an injury would keep me from playing. Call it tough love. On the day I received my first jersey, I wore it to bed. My father, on the other hand, liked the fact that I was keeping myself busy. He had even gone to the trouble of driving me to practice everyday. Not once did he or any member of my family watch me play in a game. But that’s not what bothered me.

Coach had a problem with my name. He couldn’t pronounce it for the life of him. So, to aid him in his quest to find a name that would be easy on the tongue, I told him to call me by my nickname, which consisted of only one syllable: Dohn. Somehow, this had carried elsewhere. Playing football and going to school was not enough. I wasn’t quite complete. I had yet to attain my status as a quintessential son. My parents provided me food, clothing and a roof over my proverbial head, but I wasn’t content. I wanted better for myself. I wanted what my friends had, which was everything. And that’s why I began to work.

I was very busy and consequently very tired. I ran on a very precise, very compact schedule. Here’s what a typical school day schedule looked like:


07:00—Wake up

07:45—Go to school

08:05—Homeroom

11:00—Lunch 10:30—Return home

02:20—Football Practice

03:45—Change/Shower

04:05—Board bus

04:30—Arrive at work

10:00—Closing time

11:00—Homework

12:00—Lights out

On Fridays, I would get out of work at about midnight. On Saturdays, I would work thirteen hours, Sundays, twelve. Everything was under the table. It came out to be fifty-four hours per week—fourteen hours more than what the average adult puts in. Coincidentally, my jersey number was 54. I had more money than I knew what to do with. It was more than adequate to buy everything I’d ever wanted at the time and more. My parents were good friends with the owners and I guess that had made it all right. On the bus rides after practice, my exhaustion would cause me to fall asleep, being so still after sustaining such constant motion. As I would fade into sleep, so would the pastel-colored house of the rich suburbs, slowly rolling by. As I rode further toward the murky city—home to the factories—the homes would turn into brownstones and co-ops, which were always a dull brown and red color. The trees would shrink and become parking meters, the lawns into parking lots, touched by an urbanite’s paintbrush.

My mother and father were proud of me. Not only was the youngest of their offspring getting an 87 average in High School and a star football player, he was earning his own living! My God, how is he doing it all? Determination, that’s how. When guests and relatives alike would come into our home, like on holidays, my dad had made it a family tradition to pull me out of hiding and show me off like a solid gold trophy.

Ah…Here he is; my son Dohn,” he would say. “He plays football (tough little guy) and works hard on and off the field.” Most times, I would be too tired to smile, let alone able to entertain my hungry audience with some intellectually motivated response. In the Lao culture (and Asian culture for that matter) it’s crucial that you were ahead of the curve. To win, you need only stature, through success. Success is measured through achievements. It was during this period that my father was winning. He was winning and I was losing. “Who knows,” my father would surmise, “with his brains and work ethic, he could well become a doctor!” I almost fainted after hearing this.

It wasn’t easy for me to have a social life. I lost a girlfriend because I couldn’t find any time to be with her. “Why did you ask me out if we couldn’t do anything?” She asked me. The cold hard truth was that my social life was nearly non-existent. So after blowing off my friend Mike for a few weeks to hang out, I had taken a night off and complied with his request for a sleep over. Mike and I were friends in grammar school. The money I made working put his ten-dollars-a-week allowance to shame. Mike had been the one to urge me to play football in the first place. His father was a doctor and his mother a teacher—well respected and well known in the close-knit community. Mike was envious of me and so were his parents. So much that when I went over to his house that night, a much-needed-conversation arose at the dinner table. Among the parents, it was Mike’s mom that spoke to me first:

“I hear that you’re quite the entrepreneur!”

“I do what I can,” I replied, obviously modest.

“How do you do it?”

“Time management, I guess.” That was when Mike’s father had turn to Mike, who had no older siblings to look up to and said, “What a role model! Maybe he could give you some pointers, Mike.” That’s when I almost lost it. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I pictured Mike working alongside of me—working in vain. I had the nerve to push him back to his reality. I really doubted that Mike’ parents knew the extent of the amount of hours I work, or the minimal amount of sleep I was getting. I would never put anyone through what I was going through right then. I wanted to tell Mike that his parents didn’t know what the hell they were talking about and that if I could, I would end it all. At least then I wouldn’t be so damn tired all the time.

Once, I fell asleep standing up while at work. Lucky for me, one of the customers had awoken me before the owners did. Speaking of which, my father used to tell me that, “Success has nothing to do with luck.” He believes that if I brought honor to the family, “Success is a conscious decision.” And I believed him. I put my best into everything I did, whether it was at the workplace, the gridiron or the classroom. But no matter how hard I worked, I didn’t think I was ever good enough. I always thought that I could do better that I could work harder, faster. The money I made, I practically gave away. Each bill was made with drops of my own drained blood. After accumulating so much of it, it began to seem useless. If I was a criminal, the money was my conviction, traces of evidence in wrongdoing. The work was finally taking a toll on me.

Another time, while I was working inside one summer, I heard in the distance some bells ringing, getting closer and closer. Not until the small, white truck had turned the corner did I recognize the bells to belong to the ice-cream vendor. Kids of all races flocked to him, running and laughing when doing so. Their smiles had said it all: It reminded me of the yellow house our family used to live in, with the grassy park just next door and the ice cream shop across the street. I remembered it all too well. But it hurt to remember. It hurt that it was once upon a time so real to me.

Coming home late one weekend night, I got locked out of my dad’s penthouse. I just began hanging out with my own kind as of late. “Birds of a feather stick together,” I once heard in some English class. It was almost ironic. My parents had approved of my friends who were, on the most part, white-bred Americans. In turn, they objected to my friends of late, who were Lao—just like me. There weren’t many of us in the area, so I guess you could go as far as saying we were an endangered species. We were also nocturnal, going out only at night.

I knew that if I knocked on the window to wake up my dad, I would be asking for it, big time. I was able to peer inside and see him sound asleep. I could faintly hear the hissing of the steam heater nearby. It was warm in there. He would likely knock me up the side of my head for coming home so late if I woke him. I had walked over to my bedroom window which, at times like these, would crawl through to safety. Finding my bedroom window to be locked, I figured that my father didn’t want me home. My father hadn’t given me a curfew, trusting my judgment of which hour is appropriate to arrive home. But no more. Outside the penthouse was an accessible roof landing. I decided that it would be best for me to sleep o the roof for the night. Never mind the fact that it was the dead of winter and that football season only ended just weeks ago. I thought it safer to endure the cold than the heat of one enraged father.

In the distance, I could see the city where my father and I worked in our separate places. From where I was standing it was so peaceful, so tranquil. In the city, the electricity of the night burned, humming with its wide-eyed people working the nightshift. Here, it was lights out. I believed every soul was asleep but me, as empty as I was feeling. It was just too cold to sleep. I felt like I was drowning. More and more often, I was cutting class and not attending school all together. Don’t forget to grab the ‘unexcused absence’ letters before He sees it. If he does, he’ll flip, I thought. It was getting harder and harder to go on these days. One wrong turn led to another. Over the edge, I could look down at the alley below. The dark sight was like looking down a long barrel of a gun. I can almost touch the ground…I thought…Then the pain would subside…You won’t hear a thing. In disgust, I backed away and shrunk into a fetal position. I leaned against the wall and began to cry.

Heavy with guilt, I still managed to go to work. I feared that my parents would find my dark secret of missing so many days of school. It would be devastating had they found out. Somehow, I had to keep it a secret until I got back on track. In a morbid way, I was enjoying not being tied down. Working had provided the funds to go out. Certainly, I couldn’t lose that. Besides, when my sister ran into some speed bumps, I would provide her with some of my money—especially if it were for her son, my nephew. I took great pride in buying him diapers and formula. Whenever my sister couldn’t find a babysitter, I would step in, enthusiastic in the matter.

One night while I was babysitting, I’d fallen asleep on the couch. Before I did, I left some money on the coffee table for when the pizza delivery guy came. With my eyes burning, I awoke to find my nephew choking on a bill. He had thought it to be food. Hysterical, I flew to him. His eyes were tearing from lack of air. With my first and second fingers of my hand, I dug deep inside his small throat. Feeling for it, I felt the damp money and managed to fish out a corner of it, then another, then bigger than the first. He had tried to swallow it wide-sided. Oh my God oh my God oh my God…In all of the frustration, I began to cry uncontrollably. I cried because he was looking right into my eyes and saw me. He saw right through me, with his helpless eyes, which squirted a tear or two with each cringe of pain. With his life in my hand, I was losing fast. I felt exactly what his had told me—helpless. Just, please! C’mon! C’mon! C’mon! And then, Kaaaawwwhhh! And out it came. I was crying even harder now. For all I was worth, I wrapped my clumsy arms around his narrow torso. Upon my knees as he stood, I held him tight. “Why are you crying, Uncle Dohn?” he asked me. “Why are crying?” Except that wasn’t what I heard. What I heard might have sounded like that but wasn’t at all. “Why are you crying, Uncle Dohn? Why are you crying?”



Circa Spring 2000

More by this Author


Comments 84 comments

\Brenda Scully 7 years ago

This has great potential, I did not make it to the end though will have to come back...... it's a bit bitty isn't it....


tcochran profile image

tcochran 7 years ago

Great hub. Very very interesting. You are very talented.


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thank you for all your comments. This story, which is one of my more personal accounts and to the best of my knowledge is true. It was a precursor and a springboard for my first novel which took me 3 rewrites and 8 years to complete. After having finished this story, I reached the epiphany that I had to do more, that I had to go further in the telling of my the story of my family. More to come!


Useful Knowledge 7 years ago

Your writing is great. You do have such detail. Thank you for sharing and I will be reading more of your hubs.


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thank you, Useful Knowledge. I'm going to uploading a few more of my short stories in next few days so please check back. Perhaps you could give me some input as to which you think I should submit for publication!


shamelabboush profile image

shamelabboush 7 years ago

I think all these memories and hard work enriched your life! Good hub dear dohn121.


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thanks, shamelabboush. I believe that everything we write, whether creatively or expository is a clumination of our own experiences and knowledge. One of the worst things to have occur to you as a writer is for you to forget important moments in which you can't reflect upon. I know it's trite, but everything does happen for a reason, whether bad or good.


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

I am quiet after reading your story Dohn. I guess I found myself in your shoes and experiencing some of the feelings you have had there. I agree with your comment that everything does happen for a reason, whether we think (at the moment it was happening) as bad or good.

Love and light,

Michelle


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thank you so much for your comment Michelle. I almost lost this story when my PC crashed! I struggled to salvage my hard drive but had no luck. I'd never before been more angry then that day. But then something very fortunate happened to me. I found ONE copy of the work hidden in a folder from my college years (not too long ago) and there it was! I was elated.

This is arguably the most important short story I've ever written, as it gave me the impetus to go on and write my first novel which took me 8 years to complete. I owe it all to this one little story.

Thanks again Michelle.


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

I was drawn to the title, "If I had wings..." and it led me to click on this particular hub. :-) Goes to show there are no coincidences in life, only small and big miracles. Have a lovely day!


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Well said! I couldn't agree with you more, ripplemaker. Thank you again for your comment.


Ten Blogger profile image

Ten Blogger 7 years ago

Wonderful story.. It made me think of the day of my arrival to usa and subsequent years. Some days and some moments stay in our memory forever :)


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thank you, Ten Blogger, yes they do. It's funny how I can remember the smallest details of my youth at most times and sometimes I forget my cell phone at random places! Thank you for your supportive comment.


SEM Pro profile image

SEM Pro 7 years ago from North America

Extremely well written Ounheuane. The story of our lives is never trite. Glad you expanded yours to a novel! Is your novel published? Poignant story, powerful ending - touches to the deepest depths. Thank you for sharing - the world is richer for your legacy... and for you


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

That is probably the best compliment I've ever received, SEM Pro. Thank you so much! Someone once asked me a very personal question once while the two of us were having a friendly conversation over hot cups of coffee. This person looked at me, and by the look, I knew that a very important question was coming up:

"Why do you want to be a writer?" This person asked me. My eyes darted everywhere as if searching for a good answer in which I could coherently convey to this person. And then it became very clear and simple to me:

"I want to be writer so I can change the world."

I still believe this with every inch of my heart.

Thank you again, SEM Pro. I'm absolutely inspired by you.


WildEyes profile image

WildEyes 7 years ago

*notes..*

A family of seven is not a "small family".

That's a lot to take care of!!!


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

WildEyes-

Ha! I know! I only said that to be funny:) I'm grateful now that I don't have to wait for the bathroom every morning! My two sisters always took the longest!


MarieDance profile image

MarieDance 7 years ago from United States

This is so well written. It reminds me of the book I'm reading (which I was reading right before I read your story) Funny in Farsi by Firoozeh Dumas. I'm an immigrant too, and although we came to America during different times, I still remember the small details of my childhood here (that wasn't too long ago though). Your story made me shed a few tears. I really think you should expand this piece and write a memoir.


MarieDance profile image

MarieDance 7 years ago from United States

Or have you already? I haven't looked through all of your stuff.


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thank you, Marie. I believe that some stories need to be told and shared with the rest of the world. This country was founded and built by immigrants who sought for refuge from their country of birth for themselves and their children.

I completed the novel a year ago and am still editing it. Hopefully I'll find a agent and get it published, as it is indeed unique in many ways. Wish me luck! Thank you again, Marie.


Crazdwriter 7 years ago

Ah it's refershing seeing another novelist. I really enjoyed your story.

And I am in the same boat, no agent. It's really hard to find one...especially since the two stories I have finished are considered short stories and I was rudely told by a Literary Agent that agents won't take the time with short stories. And yes she said it rudely.

Good luck to you! Have you been to any writer's conferences yet? I am going in Sept. :-) Everyone recommends going to them.


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thanks, Crazdwriter. I still have much editing to do with my first novel right now. I'm also currently working on another novel, "I, Fraternity" in which I made into 4 hubs so far and I'm also working on a novella, which I have about 14,000 words done.

I'm curious, which writer's conference are you going to? I heard a lot about them and have been wanting to go. Please e-mail me or let me know.


Shalini Kagal profile image

Shalini Kagal 7 years ago from India

I was just going to say that this has all the makings of a great book - and I read from the comments that it was a precursor to your book - will try and order it so I can read it Dohn - if it's out already? Wonderful writing - and it speaks to the heart through all the growing up moments. Strange how certain memories stick in our minds for always - I guess they are what shape us.


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thank you Shalini, for commenting. I still haven't finished editing my novel, as I have unfortunately been putting it off. This may well be attributed to the fact that I have a fear of getting rejected because I have in my possession an unsolicited manuscript. What I really should do is submit some of my shorter pieces to either literary journals or short-story contests to first test the waters and then when enough of my work does get published, I will then look for a viable literary agent, as I will have compiled a decent portfolio of my published work.

However, thank you for offering to buy my book! It means a lot to me to hear that from others. Just as soon as I overcome my fear of failure, I will make strides to publish.


Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 7 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

Hi Dohn, Finally making it over to check out some of your beautiful writing. This story is so poignant. It is really bittersweet -- for every good memory, a sadness. The hard work you had to do but your parents' pride in you. You show so much respect for life. Your story is quintessentially American. We may not all be first generation, but we are all descended from people who came here for a better life.

I hope you feel you have found one and that you have found a supportive home here on HP. MM


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Hello, MM. Thank you for coming by. I appreciate your kind (and flattering) words. One of my heroes in literature is Carlos Bulosan, who wrote "America is in the Heart." His work is what all other immigration novels are measured against. My dream is to see to it that my work is analyzed and widely read in schools and colleges. That would be the biggest compliment I can receive. My sheer love for writing will be my impetus, however. Thank you again, MM. You are a true "fan."


rogue ant 7 years ago

I enjoyed this story so much. Over the years I've had a number of friends who came to live in my country (Australia). I asked them what it was like to grow up in a different culture. The answers were always polite and unrevealing. They couldn't seem to express their thoughts or feelings. Maybe it was just too big a question.


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thanks for your comment, rogue ant. Fortunately enough, while becoming a writer, I haven't had that problem just so long as there are people willing to sit down and hear it!


AEvans profile image

AEvans 7 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

What a wonnderful story about family, hard-work , honor and emotion. I enjoyed it tremendously. :)


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

I consider this as one of my most important stories to date. This story provided me the courage and impetus to write my first novel. I hope to get it published soon :) It took me 8 years, 3 rewrites, and a lot of coffee! I'm glad you enjoyed this story, AEvans. Maybe someday I'll see you at the book signing!


hubpageswriter 7 years ago

Beautiful story...and lovely pictures. You are a gifted writer.


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thank you, HPWriter. I appreciate all of your great comments.


thanglynn07 profile image

thanglynn07 7 years ago from Long Beach, CA

I am truly touched by your story. My family is originally from Cambodia but during the Khmer Rouge, they fled to Thailand. From there we came to America when I was 2yrs old. I have no memory of Cambodia or Thailand. Growing up was hard because my parents didn't speak English so they depended on me. Later, my younger sister and 2 younger brothers were born. I felt it was my responsibility to take care of them. I too worked hard. Since I was 7, sewing with my mom. Then 2 jobs during high school. It was tough. I had no time for a social life. Just endless responsibilities. I don't regret it. I love my family. But I wish I had allowed some time for myself. You see...I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis at 21. I felt like, I let down my family. And myself. Now it's too late to fully live...


thanglynn07 profile image

thanglynn07 7 years ago from Long Beach, CA

It was such a close call with your nephew. I'm so relieved you woke up just in time. You are such a great person. I truly admire you. Your family is very fortunate to have such a strong driven individual as yourself.


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Wow. You and I are not much different. I came here during the post-Vietnam War era as well when I was only 3. I grew up learning Lao and English. I spoke to my 2 brothers and 2 sisters (I'm the youngest) in English and spoke to my parents in Lao. Both of my parents worked as blue collar workers throughout their lives here in America. Now they are both retired and have the opportunity to enjoy spending time with their grandchildren.

I'm sorry to hear about your Rheumatoid Arthritis at such an important turning point in your life. You must be a wonderfully resilient person to be able to carry on with your life and with your writing. Congratulations on your book by the way. That was very encouraging to hear.

As many times as I have succeeded in life, I failed three times more. I truly believe that we should count the number of times that people get up rather than fall down. I was never told that life would be easy, only that it was filled with an equal mix of opportunity and challenges. The key is envision the challenges as being opportunities. Do that and you are well on your way.

I was wonderful to meet you. I look forward to more of your work and hope that you'll come back to visit! Take care.


thanglynn07 profile image

thanglynn07 7 years ago from Long Beach, CA

Thanks Dohn. I appreciate it. Resilient...not quite...for awhile I was in denial. I was certain I was misdiagnosed. I didn't want to believe it. So much more to accomplish in life. So many people depending on me. I was such a workaholic it was all that I knew. I'm very protective of my siblings and my nieces and nephews. I was the one who stood up for them. Who watched over them. Who provided for them. I wanted to give them more than I ever had growing up. I didn't want them to struggle like me. I was independent...once upon a time. Now, I'm more dependent than I ever thought I would be. It's hard, it's a constant battle...physically and mentally. Don't get me wrong I do have my good days. And I try to do the best I can before my illness catches up to me. I'm still adjusting to this new lifestyle. I am grateful for my g1 lol because I can type my work in the note pad app I downloaded then email it to myself. I can still type but not too much or too long. I take many...many breaks. But my love for writing keeps me going...


thanglynn07 profile image

thanglynn07 7 years ago from Long Beach, CA

I'm also appreciative to have gotten to know you. If anyone can relate it's you. It's funny because usually the youngest in the family would work the least. Being the older sister I also had to play the role of a mother to my siblings. And I had to work the hardest. I'm glad your parents are finally able to retire. They did their part. I believe that when we're young our parents take care of us and when we get older we should take care of our parents. I'm hoping to be successful in writing so I can once again take care of my mom. She's 61 and is still working, putting in 50+hrs a week to make ends meet. It breaks my heart that I can no longer work. She is the person that keeps me going...hoping for a better tomorrow. My father remarried...my siblings are with my mom in Colorado. I had to move back down to California for the sake of my health. I can't wait for the day we can be reunited again...and especially for the day that I can tell my mom, "Don't worry mom, you don't have to work anymore. I'll take care of you..."


nikki1 profile image

nikki1 7 years ago

Cute..


skye2day profile image

skye2day 7 years ago from Rocky Mountains

Hi dohn, your words kept me curious and entertained. I wanted to read more. I relate to your emptiness growing up. Your determination in worldly things almost destroyed you. Yet it was your saving grace to growing and learning

the abundance God has for you. I cant wait to read more. One day we look back and think wow I went through that situation and survived. We are never alone on our journey unless we choose to be.

Growing pains are just that they sting like the dickens. It is through adversity and trials one is strengthened and gains wisdom. Our faith is deepened. We can pass on our testimony to help others. Your writing inspires and encourages others to move forward,and not give up. You are making a difference. You go dohn.

You have a glorious day. I will be back. Big Hug your way.

Thank you for visiting my hubs and your kind words. I could do more hairstyling but my heart is into writing. I do not want to do more hair on a full time basis. I hope that is not 'his' plan. I will go where I am led. I believe there is a purpose for my writing, more Will be revealed. I trust God. He is my provision. Hair was a passion for a season. I could express myself. I have wonderful friends that are clientele of 22 years.

writing was a seed placed on my heart as a sophmore in high school. It was a passion then. It never left me. I just left it.


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thank you so much Skye. I had quite a time growing up while searching for my identity, combating adolescence, and keeping a steady girlfriend. But as I said before, I believe that everything does happen for a reason and a solid translation of that is that nothing happens coincidentally: There are no accidents in life, only surprises.

Again, in your comments you have proven to me again that you do have the tools to become a great writer with just your last line:

writing was a seed placed on my heart as a sophmore in high school. It was a passion then. It never left me. I just left it.

You know what you need to do, Skye. Now go and do it! (Hugs, back).


IslandVoice profile image

IslandVoice 7 years ago from Hawaii

Such fine writing Dohn! This is a story worthy for publishing, and i want the first copy with your signature. You can bring it personally to Hawaii and i'll be ready with the ice cream!


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

ROFL Thank you so much for that IslandVoice! I can taste that Kona ice cream now as I'm writing this! I really do believe that I am on the cusp of getting published...It's just a matter of time :)


Waren E profile image

Waren E 7 years ago from HAS LEFT THE BUILDING............

A remarkable life there dohn121,it was a relief to have read that your nephew made it through,a very inspiring and engaging read this was, well done!

I'm now hurrying to the hub:- I, Fraternity: A Novel in Progress:

All the best man!:)


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Wow, Waren! Thank you for reading me. This story was certainly my inspiration to get into novel writing. I really appreciate your support and readership. Thank you very much.


mizink profile image

mizink 6 years ago from Missouri

Wonderful dohn. I wanted to cry. I want to read the yellow house when it is ready for publication I will buy it.

wow what a work ethic.


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 6 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thank you so much for your comment, mizink. I really am fortunate to have such a great readership. I happy to say that I think I've finally found a literary agent (cross your fingers!) and am now in the process of re-editing and re-writing Yellow House. I'll definitely let you know of the status of my work just as soon as I can! Again, thank you.


myownworld profile image

myownworld 6 years ago from uk

brought tears to my eyes at the end....and what can be greater sign of a true writer than one who touches your heart with his words! beautiful...!


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 6 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

That is quite a compliment, myownworld. I thank you that this story had such an impact. This is another piece that is non-fictional and of course is the precursor to my novel...I'm actually considering on revise this a bit and using it as my prologue to my novel. Thank you again for your invaluable support. I'm happy I met you.


Lisa Petrarca profile image

Lisa Petrarca 6 years ago

This was a very moving story of your struggle to find yourself through your eyes instead of your family's.

Even in American culture we all feel the need to measure up to others expectations of us, while often foregoing our own hopes and dreams.

Keep pursuing your dreams Dohn. You are blessed with not only the amazing gift of writing but with an ability to show your vulnerability. This quality enables others to relate to you.

Thank you for sharing your story!


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 6 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thank you so much for that, Lisa. This story is perhaps the most important story I've ever written due to the fact that it was the impetus and precursor to my first novel.

Growing up in a rich and bustling suburb, I learned a lot about greed, materialism, love, hate, and friendship--all in which molded me into the person I am today. I must have said this a million times during the course of my life, but everything does happen for a reason, whether or not we are aware of it.

I really do believe that I am on the very cusp of getting published (not self published, mind you) and so the thought getting published pushes me further and further to doing just that.

Thank you for reading me. I hope to hear from you again soon.


prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 6 years ago from US

hi DOHN,

You made me cry again lol,

but laugh at times too..

you are a great writer, honest witty and could moved even a stone.

I laughed at this:

“Who knows,” my father would surmise, “with his brains and work ethic, he could well become a doctor!” I almost fainted after hearing this.

You give me hope and thoughts through these

"To win, you need only stature, through success. Success is measured through achievements" and this one “Success has nothing to do with luck.” He believes that if I brought honor to the family, “Success is a conscious decision.” And I believed him

and then I cried with this

"I cried because he was looking right into my eyes and saw me" carrying your nephew.

I know how difficult to be an immigrant, that is why I am always thinking of my children, if they come here they will be uprooted with new culture, and they will miss their grandparents and family there, but they will be with me..where they belong/

With this story of yours, I came to know you more, compassionate and the things you have undergone to become what you are now, intelligent, well grounded, and a deep sense of compassion and hardworking too.

And how you love football....by the way Congrats ...to the Yankees YEAH and i read your interview too...

You are a character Dohn and I am sure you are going to succeed in life, am waiting for your book,,,


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 6 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thank you, Pretty. I'm absolutely overwhelmed with gratitude after reading your comment. This is perhaps the most important piece of writing I've ever written, as it is the precursor to my full-length novel which I am still currently editing and writing.

In my heart, I truly believe that I will one day get published. I don't think that I'm the God's gift to the literary world, but I do think that I'm "good enough," at least that's what I tell myself to keep myself going.

It means a lot to hear such wonderful feedback. Whenever I write, I always look to my audience and look to write for them, which in turn helps me to be mindful and critical of my own work. You are certainly among them.

Thank you for being a friend, Pretty. I'm glad I've met you.


wavegirl22 profile image

wavegirl22 6 years ago from New York, NY

dohn- what can I say that I haven't already said to you . . 'cept I love more and more getting to know you . . I think the line that hit home the hardest was "But no matter how hard I worked, I didn’t think I was ever good enough." I hope in the time since you wrote this you KNOW that you are good enough .. in my book, you are GREAT;)

xoxox

p.s. so glad Halloween is over and you put your pic back up, I missed seeing it

shari


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 6 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thanks so much, Shari! Yeah, I like that avatar of me the most. I was a cartoon turkey for about an hour last night but then got tired of it. It's good to be "back."

My entire life, I always believed that anything worthwhile would require from me my all to achieve. I used that same methodology when I tried to keep a relationship with my first long-term relationship and when it didn't work, I blamed myself (3 years, BTW). Safe to say, I realized that I no longer feel like I was to blame for the relationship NOT working. It takes two to tango!

I really do appreciate your compliment. It means a lot, Shari. It's always great to see and hear from you. Thank you ever so much :D


wavegirl22 profile image

wavegirl22 6 years ago from New York, NY

so which Game are we meeting for? you know the season is half over . .and if the Gmen get to the Super Bowl. . good shot we could be there;) in more ways than one . details to follow . first pick a sports bar . .any where as north as Mt Kisco as east as Stamford . . or the big apple. . . just have to watch one just one game with you!


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 6 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

We're gonna make that happen, Shari :D You would be amazing to be around...We'll definitely touch base, as I the holidays are fast approaching. Did you make it to the Yankees Parade, by the way? I couldn't make it unfortunately :( Will keep in touch ;) Thanks, Shari.


apricot profile image

apricot 6 years ago from Italy

That had me hooked - I love all the little details you put in - yes, I would wonder about the cookie monster getting thirsty too! And the homes turning 'brownstones and co-ops' - I loved that! Your descriptions are really vivid. Thanks for the read!


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 6 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thanks, apricot. This is one of my most important stories I've ever written. Thank you for the compliment! I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed reading it. I never did get to see whether or not the Cookie Monster ever got a glass of milk :P


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

I am simply overwhelmed with emotions after reading this story of your youth after coming to America. With your determination and spirit, nothing can stop you from achieving your dreams. I can't wait for your book to be published. You will have me purchasing a copy!


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 6 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thank you so much, Peggy. I've always been a confident in my abilities and always believed that I could accomplish anything brought before me as long as I had time and patience. There is nothing more important to me in my life than my family and writing and publishing a novel for them is the best way I know how to honor them.

That means so much to me to hear you say that. I thank you for your kind words and your support.


Truth From Truth profile image

Truth From Truth 6 years ago from Michigan

Dohn you are a talented writer. The story is very motivational. Your story has it sad moments, yet it also breaths hope.


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 6 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thank you, TFT. This is one of my most important stories I ever wrote. I'm glad that you enjoyed it. It means a lot.


hotspur profile image

hotspur 6 years ago from England

Lots of great material to grow the novel! Hope it appears as you you vision it. Good luck!


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 6 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thanks, hotspur. I've already completed one novel off this story and plan to write two more. In total, the three novels will cover 30 years of my family's history. Thanks for the comment!


Bbudoyono profile image

Bbudoyono 6 years ago

Everybody has experience but only some people have passion and technique to write them. I admire the way you describe. it is very detailed, very lively. Thanks dohn.


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 6 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thank you so much for the compliment, Bbudoyono! It's always wonderful to hear your feedback. I wrote this while in college a while ago. This is perhaps the most important short story I've ever written, as it was the beginning of my first novel. Thanks again!


Petra Vlah profile image

Petra Vlah 6 years ago from Los Angeles

Dohn thank you for this hub,

Your arrival in New York reminds me of my own (still at night and still cold – actually Thanksgiving Day of 1997).

The difference is that you were so young and had your family with you while I was 30 and had left my family behind.

Talking about your young friends you said something “was lost in translation”; I can relate to that as well. I first thought was a question of language, but than I realize it was much more than that; it is a question of two different cultures, different sets of values, different ways of dealing with people and issues.

After reading some of your work I have no doubts; your call is to tell the story of your family and I feel I have the same responsibility for my people. In that respect I have a slight advantage; I was old enough to remember everything.

You do have wings, Dohn so keep on flying and reach that high place where your talent is going to take you sooner than what you may think.


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 6 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Wow. Thank you so much for that, Petra. There's still so much that I want to accomplish. I think about my skills and my abilities and surmised that the best way that I can honor my family is to write about them and about our experience pertaining to our plight from a Communist dominated Laos. Your heartfelt words are encouraging. Thank you so much for that!


Gabriella D'Anton profile image

Gabriella D'Anton 6 years ago from Los Angeles, Ca

I messed up Dohn, I arrived in Thanksgiving Day of 1979 not 1997 (20 years is a lot to lose out of a life).

Everything else remainse the same no matter which name I use to post my comments to your writing. I just know you are great and I will keep on following you.

Have a Healthy and Happy New Year; keep on flying towards the light and success


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 6 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Wow. That really does make for a bit of a difference! I arrived here in the U.S. practically 3 months after you! Thanks so much for clearing that up.

Here's to a great and prosperous 2010! Thank you so much, Gabriella! I of course will be following you as well ;)


G Miah profile image

G Miah 6 years ago from Muslim Nation

Class story Dohn, interesting to hear what you went through, and i had similar experiences when i came to UK. Which i will be writing about no doubt! The story got more and more intense near the end. I was relieved to read that your nephew was ok in the end!


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 6 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thanks, G Miah. This is the prelude to my first novel which I hope I'll publish this year. It's great to hear that you shared a similar story. I'd really like to hear about your own personal experiences as well. Thank you again.


G Miah profile image

G Miah 6 years ago from Muslim Nation

I'm working on a few hubs right now, so it'll take some time. I've learnt a lot from reading your hubs, especially on how to improve my writing. Some stories i've written don't have enough depth, so i will be editing them!

As the saying goes (or does it?), you learn from the master, and you are a master at what you do!


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 6 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Yikes! I'm no master, if that's what you're implying! I still have a lot to learn...I will say that I did major in Creative Writing and would like to someday get an MFA in Creative Writing as well, but that's down the road. I've read a lot of books but still have hundreds more I want to read and I do write at least 500 words a day. I like to think that I'm improving each day.

I hope that you do continue to write yourself, which includes TONS of editing by the way. Just work hard at your craft, my friend and results WILL follow. As always, I appreciate your readership. I don't expect you to read all of my hubs in one sitting :D

Thanks again!


Mekenzie profile image

Mekenzie 6 years ago from Michigan

dohn, I am so glad I finally found a hub about you and your life ... to top it off it is the prelude to your novel which is a very important piece of a writing. Your craftmanship of words creates pictures in my mind ... the best writers know how to do that (in my humble opinion). I loved how you described leaving the prestigious and colorful neighborhoods.. they faded away as you also faded away into sleep.

If you were my boy, I would tell you I am so proud of you! I would tell you not to work yourself to death dear one ... there is too much life to be lived - enjoy it and embrace it. I know there would be no chance of you getting lazy because of your work ethic, your gifted writing abilities and because your heart is full ... you have so much to say ... Go change your world dohn! Blessings and Hugs


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 6 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Gosh, thank you so much, Mekenzie. I've been working longer than some adults and hope that one day, my writing will replace "real work" as it's the only profession I want to pursue. Thank you so much for mentioning that scene. It looks like I invoked in you the very same feelings that those scenes invoked in me (I guess I succeeded in doing so). I really do want to change the world, for the better. I'm flattered, really! Thank you, Mekenzie xox


salt profile image

salt 6 years ago from australia

Lovely story, thankyou, family, love, sadness, marriage, seperation, birth, life and living. Thankyou.


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 6 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thank you so much for reading this. By doing so, you've learned more about me than in any other hub you'll find. I really do appreciate it, thank you.


Pam Roberson profile image

Pam Roberson 6 years ago from Virginia

Dohn, this is the most moving story I've ever read. If I tried to comment on every single thing that stirred me or interested me, I'd write my own short story right here. I'll simply say...outstanding. Bravo! I'm now a devoted follower and a true fan.


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 6 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thank you so much for that, Pam. That really means a lot to me that you said that. That story provided the impetus for me to write the story of my family. I'm now in the process of editing the book and getting it ready for a literary agent, so please cross your fingers! Thank you!


Inda 6 years ago

Such a talent! enjoyed reading it :D the fact that it is your true story of life has added more value and feeling of 'attached'.

To me, as i began reading i felt curious what will happen next, then it kept making me read and read..the further i read the more i felt something 'familiar'. Scrolled down and scrolled..as i came to part of you were doing 'multitasking' growing-up moment with school-work-sport/exercise..also with all of your emotional situation toward your life,family,and love..then i realized why i did feel familiar with your story :)

It reminds me of my husband with all his character and story of life. Of course different cases but with quite similar character..and when i scrolled back to the earlier paragraph i notices you mention that you are a dragon as he is.. :) cute! Would like to read more of yours for sure.


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 6 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

It's so wonderful to hear that you enjoyed this, inda. This is one of the most important pieces of writing I've ever done. It really means a lot that others are affected by it, as it's a personal account of my early life. Dragons are fishy characters aren't they? If anything else, they are very melodramatic and complicate things more so than they have to be. I wonder now if your husband also immigrated to where he grew up and now resides.

As I've said in the first hub of mine you read, it's my belief that 'Everything does happen for a reason' and one of our meanings in life is to find just that.

I sure do hope that I hear from you again and that I've gotten you interested enough to read more of my hubs here at HubPages. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my work in either case. It really is a blessing to receive such a reception.

Dohn


Lamme profile image

Lamme 5 years ago

dohn121, I just stopped by to read your hub and had to tell you how much I enjoyed it. While your life is completely different than mine, it was so interesting to read your personal experience as an immigrant. It is through such poignant writing that we come to understand each other better as a people. If only the world would put down their stereotypes and hatred long enough to see that we are all one people, all struggling with life in our own way.


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 4 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thank you Lamme. I totally agree with your perspective. It's my belief that all of us should seek similarities in others rather than differences, that way there would be less scrutiny, violence, and injustice. The world surely would be a much better place. I'm so happy that you read this. Moreover, I'm so glad that you and I share a commonality. Thank you.

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