Sunday, May 9, 2010

In Loving Memory of Our Uncle Tuan Mai

On Tuesday afternoon we received some shocking and very sad news.  Son's uncle Tuan had been killed in a car accident that morning...

I don't really feel qualified to write about him or his passing, but all I can do is share what I know about him.

When I met and fell in love with Son one of the last things that I ever thought about was that I was about to become part of a traditional Vietnamese family.  Every single member of Son's family has been so extremely welcoming and sweet to me that I truly couldn't ask for a better relationship with his family.  However, Mr. Mai (Tuan) always stuck out to me as someone who made the extra effort to really make me feel welcome.

It was honestly pretty scary the first few times I visited the family in Pensacola.  Imagine meeting your boyfriends family for the very first time, but then throw in the fact that they all speak a different language, eat different food, and have many different traditions.  Every time we visited we always had a big family dinner one night durign our stay.  It is usually either at the Vuong house (Son's parents) or the Mai house (aunt & uncle).  I now LOVE these gatherings and really look forward to seeing and talking with everyone, but in the beginning it was a little intimidating to have about 10-15 people at a dinner party all speaking a different language.

Anyways, Tuan always gave me a great big hug, and included me on whatever the conversation was.  He would switch to English so that I could know what they were discussing.  He also always had a funny joke or story to tell me, and loved making everyone laugh.  Tuan was also the designated "duck/turkey carver" and would put on one of Son's moms flowered aprons, get the big butcher knife, put a cutting board on the counter and cut up the duck for us (or turkey if I had made the Thanksgiving dinner).  Son & I have several pictures of him in the apron cutting up the ducks, and they always bring a smile to my face.

Tuan was also loved my many of Son's college friends who enjoyed coming to their house for Vietnamese New Year "Tet" and affectionately called him "Mr. T".  He was an incredibly talented craftsman who made the most beautiful custom built-in cabinetry.  He also built their house himself and recently added an upstairs addition.

On Tuesday when we got the terrible news we immediately started to plan our trip to Pensacola to say goodbye and be with the family during this hard time.  I had been thinking about and praying for something that we could do to help.  They have such an amazing, sweet, and large family that I really didn't know if there was anything that we could do that hadn't already been taken care of.  Of course we had been praying for them, but I wanted something tangible that we could help with. 

We found out later that day that our cousin Thanh (Tuan's son) was supposed to move out of his dorm at University of Florida that week and needed help, so we packed everything up, rented a uhaul trailer and headed to Gainseville.  I know that moving someone isn't a big deal, but at least this was something small that we could do to try and show how much we loved them and wanted to help.

We spent Thursday, Friday & Saturday in Pensacola with the family.  With Collin's schedule and 8:00 bedtime I wasn't able to be at the Mai family house as much as everyone else, but I was so happy that we were there in Pensacola and that Son was able to be there for our family.

This is still tough for everyone to understand why someone has been taken away so tragically, but we must just pray and take comfort in God's plan for our lives.

Tuan leaves behind two sons, a wife, and many many other loving family members and friends.

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted."  Matthew 5:4


Elizabeth said...

oh julie - I am so sorry for your family's devastating loss...S's uncle sounds like a wonderful man...praying for comfort and blessings during this hard time.

Mitchell and Jennifer said...

Julie, Please tell Son how sorry we are to hear about this! I will pray for all of you. What a sweet and touching post, I think you were very qualified to write this!