Love Is Sacrifice

Back in November 2022, I video called my Dad. I looked at him...then gave him the side eye.

"Hey Dad....what's up....?"

"Oh, I'm on sick leave."

He didn't look or sound unwell....

" you're sick....?"

"No, they're making me take my sick leave before I retire next year."

" much sick leave do you have, Dad?"

"Nineteen hundred hours."

I am rapidly doing the math in my head.....nearly 50 weeks of sick leave.

"Uh, Dad, that's a lot of sick leave.....How did that happen?"

"Oh, where I work, when you get overtime, you're not allowed to take sick leave."


I have flashbacks to my childhood.

I knew my father loved us because he was never there. He was always working, getting as much overtime as possible. Whenever he was home, he'd be sleeping, so us kids had to be very, very, very quiet. And then he'd slip silently out of the house and back to one of his three jobs.

As a child, if my father was in a line-up with other Vietnamese men, I would not have been able to pick him out.

I was in my teens when I first experienced him talking directly to me. Even to this day, a part of me is surprised when I hear that he has a voice.


"Um, so how many sick days do you get each year?"


" haven't taken a sickie in 25 years......"

"Yeah, there were times when I was sick, but I would just deal with it. We needed the money."

"So now you have to take all your sick leave......?"

"Yeah, they want me to take it before I retire, so that they don't have to pay me out a lot of money at once."

"Wow Dad, that must be so hard for you. All you know is how to work."


Love is the smell of machinery-greased dust and a child who does not know the sound of her father's voice. This child, now grown, has nieces who know the voices and faces of their parents, grandparents, and aunt.


Sign up with your email to receive news and updates.