Relief Fund for Ms. Consuelo Granados

When I still worked in the office, I would see Ms. Consuelo Granados almost everyday at noon. She either waited for me to microwave my food or vice versa. We made small conversations. Through Ms. Granados’s limited English, I have learned about her family from her children to grandchildren. When she knew there was leftover food in the building, she would notify me. Sometimes, she would give me a homemade tortilla.

I have tremendous respect for Ms. Granados. She shows up everyday and keeps the place clean. Although we work in the same building, I didn’t realize that she is not a George Mason employee until she told me. Mason contracted her company, which pays her $10.50 an hour, to work in our building.

Today, I have learned that Ms. Granados had COVID-19. Her husband, pregnant daughter, and son-in-law were also infected. Her company did not provide its workers with masks. When she had severe symptoms, she was granted two weeks of paid leave. She returned to work after five months with a $670 hospital bill that went to collector. Then her grandson was born prematurely and hospitalized for 13 days.

When the school sent out the news, my heart broke for my friend and coworker. I am glad that the law school community had pulled together a relief fund through GoFundMe to help her out during this difficult time.

Vĩnh biệt chú Sen

Lúc mới qua Mỹ, tôi thường phụ chị Phương ở tiệm tạp hóa. Đại khái là bỏ đồ vào bao mỗi khi chị thanh toán tiền cho khách hàng. Lý do đơn giản tôi giúp chị là vì muốn gặp người Việt. Thỉnh thoảng chú Sen cũng ghé chơi vì chú cũng ở gần tiệm. Lúc đó chú cũng chỉ ở một mình chưa bảo lãnh vợ con sang nên chú ra tiệm chơi cho đỡ buồn. Chú cũng tình nguyện giúp chị Phương những công việc lặt vặt trong tiệm.

Chú có làn da ngăm ngăm giống tôi. Chú hiền lành, giản dị, và luôn nở một nụ cười rất tươi. Có lần chú lái xe đưa tôi và chị Phương đi Phila bốc hàng về bán. Chị mua nào là trái cây, rau cải, đậu phụ, và những món ăn vặt. Chị không mua một chỗ mà đi vòng quanh phố Tàu ở Phila. Đến chiều mệt và đói meo, chị đãi hai người công nhân ăn mì tô ở nhà hàng Tàu. Tô mì nóng hổi và thật là ngon miệng. Ăn xong thì chú lái chúng tôi về lại Lancaster. Những ký ức tuy đơn giản nhưng khó quên của những chuỗi ngày mới qua Mỹ.

Sau này chú bảo lãnh vợ con sang Mỹ nên bận bịu không còn đến tiệm nữa. Tôi thỉnh thoảng cũng đi chơi với hai thằng con trai của chú. Mấy mươi năm đã không gặp lại chú. Hôm qua thấy con của chú để tang cho chú tôi mới biết chú đã ra đi. Cuộc đời thật quá ngắn ngủi. Nụ cười của chú vẫn in đậm trong trí nhớ của tôi. Thôi thì tạm vĩnh biệt chú nhé. “Người ra đi bến sông nằm lạnh / Này nhân gian có nghe đời nghiêng” (Trịnh Công Sơn). Cầu mong cho linh hồn chú được yên nghỉ trong bình an.

Thanks, Chris

My thanks to Chris, a friend and a formal colleague at Vassar College, for supporting this blog. Readers like Chris make this blog free of advertisement and third-party tracking. If you enjoy reading this blog, please consider supporting my efforts. Chip in what you can.

Kinh Phước Đức

Lắng nghe thầy Thích Chúc Đại giải thích bốn câu trong “Kinh Phước Đức” đầy ý nghĩa:

Tránh không làm điều ác
Không say sưa nghiện ngập
Tinh cần làm việc lành
Là phước đức lớn nhất.

Đọc trọn bài ở trang nhà Làng Mai.

Through Chris Dang

My brief farewell post on Christopher Dang had found its way into people who were close to him or inspired by his works.

Thom Easix wrote to me on January 26, 2020:

Hi Donny,

We don’t know each other, but I just wanted to let you know that I read your blogpost about Chrisopher Dang and that I had the same experience as you. I also started designing in the early 2000’s when I was still a kid and I was really inspired by Halovision. I really looked up to him.

As time passed I also stopped following him, but once in a while I think back on that time. I always remember his art to still be really good.

So today I googled him again and yes, his old artworks still holds up. He had such a feel for typography, shapes and colors. I don’t know how to properly explain it in English, but he was really talented.

Today I also discovered he passed away and I found out through your blogpost.

I don’t know why I’m sending you this email, but I guess I want to thank you for your blog and it was nice to read that you also got inspired by him. It’s not something I can share with other people.

Have a good day,

Best,

Thom

I replied to Thom:

Dear Thom,

I am glad that you have shared your thoughts with me. When I found out that he passed away, I was shocked. I wrote that post wondering if other people had similar experience. You email is a proof. Chris was a talented artist and even his early works had left a deep impact in many of us who didn’t even know him.

Regards,
Donny Truong

Thom responded:

Hi Donny,

Thanks for your reply. I was really moved by it.

Because of your email I searched some more about him and I found out he was a very loved and good person. It kept me busy all day.

I hope he knew how many people he inspired and that his style is visible all over the world. I live in the Netherlands and I’m sure his work laid the foundation for what I like in graphic design.

For the future when I have a flashback to those early 2000’s, I will also remember your email and this story.

This is the beautiful side of the internet :)

I wish you all the best in your career and not to be too cheesy, but may his spirit live on in our work :)

Best,
Thom

I also shared with Thom an email from someone who was close to Chris. Alyssa Key wrote on December 19, 2020:

Hi Donny,

I found your site entry online when googling our beloved Tinypants. He died of natural causes, stemming from a trial pharmaceutical he was using from losing his vision. Ironic, isn’t it… halo vision. Anyways wanted to help answer that question for you. He was my partner, best friend, and soul mate for many years. Our lives went different paths a few years before his death and I never got a chance to remind him I loved him. We will all see him again soon though. Hope you’re well, sorry if this so random.

Warmest Regards,
Alyssa Key

I responded to Alyssa on December 19, 2020:

Dear Alyssa,

Thank you for writing. He was a gifted artist who reached so many people with his work. I didn’t know him personally, but I am sure he knew he still has a special place in your heart.

Thank you for answering my question. I hope you and your family are doing well and happy holidays.

Regards,
Donny Truong

Amanda Gorman on Democracy

Amanda Gorman, the nation’s first-ever youth poet laureate, on democracy and the orange monster:

The hill we climb

If only we dare

It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit,

it’s the past we step into

and how we repair it

We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation

rather than share it

Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy

And this effort very nearly succeeded

But while democracy can be periodically delayed

it can never be permanently defeated

In this truth

in this faith we trust

Vĩnh biệt cô Lệ Thu

“Nước mắt mùa Thu khóc ai trong chiều / Hàng cây trút lá nghĩa trang đìu hiu.” – Phạm Duy

Nghe tin danh ca Lệ Thu đã từ trần sau những tháng ngày chóng chọi với COVID-19, tôi xót xa vô cùng. Lại một người yên mến bị con COVID cướp đi mạng sống. Đã phải chứng kiến từng phút giây đớn đau của mẹ, tôi hiểu được sự chịu đựng của cô. Cô đã đấu tranh cho đến hơi thở cuối cùng. Giờ đây cô đã được giải thoát và không còn phải sống trong sự đau khổ nữa. Xin cô an nghỉ trong bình yên. Tiếng hát của cô sẽ tồn tại mãi trong mỗi con tim cô đã từng chạm đến.

Live Stream for Mrs. Lý’s Visitation

As children of Mrs. Anh Ngọc Lý, we deeply appreciate your expression of sympathy through phone calls, emails, and Facebook.

Due to the pandemic, she could not say goodbye to her family and friends for the last time. With technologies like Facebook and the web, family and friends can find out more information about our beloved Mrs. Lý.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the special love you have for her. For her memorial visitation, which will be held on Monday, January 4, 2021, we will have a live stream courtesy of the funeral home. If you would like to tune in, please visit Mrs. Anh Ngọc Lý’s obituary page from 9:00 am to 10:30 am (Eastern Time).

Chương trình quay hình trực tiếp trong buổi viếng thăm

Là con cháu của bà Lý Ngọc Anh, chúng tôi vô cùng cảm động với những lời phân ưu qua điện thoại, email, và trên Facebook từ gia đình trong và ngoài nước cũng như từ bạn hữu gần xa.

Vì bà ra đi trong mùa COVID-19 nên không thể gặp mặt mọi người lần cuối. Nhờ có phương tiện Facebook và trang web nên gia đình và bạn bè được biết rõ thông tin về bà.

Chúng tôi thành thật cám ơn tình thương của gia đình và bạn bè đã dành cho bà. Trong lễ viếng sẽ được cử hành vào thứ Hai, ngày 4, tháng 1, năm 2021, chúng tôi sẽ có chương trình quay hình trực tiếp tại trang nhà quàn. Gia đình và bạn bè ở xa có thể vào trang cáo phó của bà Lý Ngọc Anh từ 9:00 sáng đến 10:30 sáng, giờ miền Đông (ET), để theo dõi.

Force to Live or Help to Die

Maria L. La Ganga writes for the Los Angeles Times:

Marilou, Michelle and Michael had not seen their husband and father in person for 36 days. They hadn’t held Bob’s hand or stroked his forehead. There’d been phone calls and texts and video meetings. But once he was placed on the ventilator, even his voice was silenced. In the cruel calculus of COVID-19, there was only one way they could be with him in the hospital.

If the ventilator was turned off. If he was about to die.

We’re now in similar situation and dilemma.