The way Dad reminisced about the things he used to eat, see, and do in Thailand—elements of his life that had never been disclosed to me prior to the trip—made me realize how much he missed the comforts of his native country. While he left for America by choice, his feelings of longing for his roots and the familiar (what is sometimes referred to as cultural bereavement) were nonetheless still strong.
On my fourth day in Thailand, as we drove along the roads of Chiang Mai in my uncle’s SUV, I heard Dad giggling about something. When I told him I’d never heard him laugh like that, he replied, “It’s because I’m in Thailand.” Dad was happy to be home—a place he previously didn’t think he wanted to return to.
Back in the suburbs of Denver at my parents’ house a few months later, I still hear the TV blaring Family Feud or the news, and Dad still greets me clad in his pjs. But now, in addition to chatting about the weather or current events, we reminisce fondly about our trip together—particularly when Mama cooks the same dishes we feasted on abroad. During those exchanges, I find hope in seeing glimmers of Dad’s satisfied smirks, a reminder that we need to plan another vacation to the Land of Smiles.