The lyrics from Avicii’s song “The Night” are reminding me of my father.
“One day you’ll leave this world behind
So live a life you will remember
When thunder clouds start pouring down
Light a fire they can’t put out
Carve Your Name Into Their Shining Star
He said go adventure far beyond these shores
Don’t forsake this life of yours
I’ll guide you home no matter where you are…”
Monday would have been my father’s birthday. Today is my nephew, Ryker Paisan’s, (whose middle name is my father’s first name), 3rd birthday.
In this crazy-hectic-chaotic season of life I wanted to write little Ryker a letter in memory of my father, who definitely lived a life to be remembered. And he definitely ventured far from his shores — he was born in northern Thailand.
My father would have been so elated to have a grandson. When Jaime was first born, my dad shrieked in happiness “It’s a BOY! Oh wait, it’s a girl! That is great too” 😉 Ryker would have been the little boy he always wanted to dote on.
My father was truly of another caliber. He was generous. He was kind. He was a sharp dresser who loved his Armani suits and finding amazing steals at Last Chance. He loved finding a designer tie or shirt that was deeply discounted and proudly sporting it, and then in his thick Thai accent asking people “How much!? How much you think I pay!?”
He loved cooking feasts for the entire neighborhood, the entire church community, his entire office. Friday night he would start marinating, chopping, dicing and prepping food – and by Saturday afternoon our entire cuddle-sac smelled like a royal Thai banquet.
He loved taking me Christmas shopping, for Jaime and my mom, and telling me to buy whatever I wanted, and then told me to act surprised when it magically appeared under the tree on Christmas day.
He loved his daughters with all his heart. He always made sure we had art lessons, art supplies and he would save all his loose change until it was enough to buy us whatever American Girl doll, Swatch Watch, or a Dooney + Bourke bag we had our eye on.
I remember waking up on Saturday mornings to the aroma of an incredible breakfast he had already put together — only to find him at his drafting table working on a side project he was free lancing on in order to bring in more money for our family.
My father was never a victim. Even when life hit at him hard, he rose up and hit back harder. I remember when he lost his job at an architectural firm, and how he took a job at Dillard’s being a janitor just to make ends meet. He would go to Dillard’s at 5am to clean toilets, then roll back home, but on his Armani suit and go on interviews at big design firms. And this is a man who had a Master’s degree in architecture from the prestigious PRATT School of Design. He was never above doing whatever he needed to keep his family healthy, happy and secure.
Our lifestyles never drastically changed when he would lose his job. Maybe we had to pull back on our art and piano lessons, but there was always food on the table, the same roof over our heads, and the same routine we had prior to the job loss.
Furthermore my father never stopped going after what he wanted. Year after year he, took the test to become a licensed architect, and year after year, he passed all but one section. However, HE NEVER gave up. He was scheduled to take the final section of that exam in June, and in May his life’s final chapter came to an end.
My father was setting in motion SO many things that would lead to the path I have taken today.
The fact that he was an architect that designed shopping malls, opened my eyes to the world of retail, fashion and branding at a very young age. The fact that he spoiled my mom with designer handbags and exposed me to Ferragamo, Bally, Louis Vuitton, Coach and Dooney + Bourke — I would STUDY those bags. Looking at every stitch and the pore size of the leather before deciding which one we should buy my mama for a gift. The fact that he encouraged art lessons — even though he was itching and hoping I would become a big attorney. The fact that he left Thailand to truly purse the American Dream, the fact that he never stopped trying, pursuing and going after his goals and dreams — those things have been carved into a star and they have lit the Boonlorn fire that cannot be put out. They are the determination, the tenacity, the drive that keep your mother and I going even when things seem bleak Ryker.
Little Ryker, you have an incredible lineage in your blood. Papa Paisan, as your sister Blake Emery, likes to say, lived a life to remember and I encourage you to do the same. Life may throw some curve balls your way, but you are bigger and better than any harsh moment life could ever deliver you. You were put on this earth for a special purpose Ryker Paisan and your soul has a unique role to play — the role of Ryker Paisan.
Papa Paisan is no longer with us. But he still shining bright. And Ryker Paisan – I want you to see how the life a person leads can continue to shine long after they physically have left this earth.
My father had designed a memorial for Buddhist monks that were slain in the valley back in the ‘80s. And my Bob friend took the blue print I had framed of this Buddhist memorial and laser cut my father’s design into steel – which is now part of my guardrail. The shadows it casts give me chills and proves to me my father is still reflecting love and light back into my life.
Ryker Paisan, I love you with all my soul. You are a beautiful child with a beautiful future ahead of you — go out there and light a fire they cannot put out. Go out there and carve your name into a shining star. Go out there and play bigger and better than any little three year old ever could. Happy birthday little man!!!!!
AUNT Jenn — with an emphasis on “Aunt” like your sister Blake says it xoxo