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Forever in Our Hearts: Honoring the Legacy of My Father

by Ashley Cheung, VPG Principal and Founder

April 2024 marks the seventh anniversary of my father's passing, and I cannot believe how time has flown by. Dad's passing was sudden and unexpected, but I am reminded today of how his often-challenging nature encouraged me to become the gritty person I am today.

a cartoon of a woman holding her father

I had just returned from a trial in Texas and was heading straight to Portland and then to Vancouver to visit some friends. That is how I have rolled for decades now. Quick escapes to explore, catch up, and see the world whenever given the chance. In Vancouver, I was nursing an ankle injury sustained in Portland but managed to arrive safely and eventually got some much-needed rest at an Airbnb. I was in a lot of pain but put on a strong face and kept going to have an enjoyable time with my friend. I did not know anything different – I internalized the pain so that life could carry on; I suppose some of that was passed down to me from my dad.

When I think back to that rainy day four years ago, I intended to stay at home resting my ankle when my dad called and wanted to go to lunch. Perhaps feeling guilty for being gone for so long, I agreed and called my brother, Eric, to join us. Afterward, Dad went to the restroom, sternly insisting he could get there on his own using his cane. Ten minutes had passed when a waiter ran out from the restroom yelling, "Call 911, someone fell!" Eric and I both jumped up. "Oh no, it's probably Dad."

By the time I got to the men's room, my dad was on the floor unconscious. Eric was trained in basic lifesaving skills in his medical technician job and gave Dad CPR until EMTs arrived to take him to the Emergency Room. At the hospital, doctors explained that Dad had been without oxygen for over ten minutes and would be in a coma for an unknown amount of time. Mom, Eric, and I had a tough decision to make, but we knew Dad would want to preserve his dignity at all costs. We advised the physician to take him off life support, allowing him to go peacefully. We were all there with him in his last moments, holding his hands and telling him how much we loved him (stubbornness and all). My dad was a good man, eccentric, old-fashioned, and tenacious.

Throughout my childhood, I watched my parents struggle and work so hard just to get by. They faced many challenges, but it was my dad’s stubbornness and traditional ways that got them through. I hope he knew how proud I was to be his daughter. Some call this passion, but Angela Duckworth’s term, grit, is the most appropriate term in my view. And I think Dad’s grit has been passed down to me and my brothers. I am going to use it every chance I can get in his honor.

Microlearning Moments (MLM): Life is short; we do not know when our time is up. Learn to lean into your fear and get out of your comfort zone. Embrace risks, say “Love to” instead of “I can’t” and pursue passions wholeheartedly. Seize every opportunity with unwavering determination, for regrets, stem from unexplored possibilities. Give your dreams your all, for the journey is as enriching as the destination. Embrace the unknown; live life to the fullest!

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