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Finally, You Understand

By , Los Angeles, CA
In my living room, there are pictures of my deceased relatives. They were from my dad’s side of the family and they were from Vietnam. There were pictures of my grandma, grandpa, and uncle. They all died in Vietnam. When I look at them I sometimes wish they were still here but they aren’t. That’s where I finally confronted my dad about his gambling. My dad likes to talk loud and sometimes you wish he could adjust his tone.
It took me a long time to have the guts to talk to him that way. When I was little, I didn’t understand that my dad was a gambler. I remember him taking me to a place where he would yell out because he lost something. I was like 10 to 12 years old. That’s when I knew he lost his bet. I would see him pull out twenties and even more. He was at a liquor store and bought tickets like the ones you scratch.
I would ask him, “What are you doing?”
He irritably replied, “Nothing.”
I didn’t believe him, but I was scared to tell him that gambling was wrong. I was scared because I thought he would start yelling at me and his yelling is pretty loud. If I questioned him, he would lie to me and deny it. My mom told me that gambling is a bad habit and not to gamble like my dad. My mom hadn’t confronted my dad yet because she knew it would start something big.
In a mean time, I heard my mom arguing with my dad about him stealing money from her again. I was terrified because I knew he would do it again. My brother and sister started crying and I just went outside to forget the argument. My best friend, who was my neighbor, came out and I told her why my parents were arguing. Unfortunately, his gambling took over his relationship with our family because he didn’t spend time with us. She understood me and told me to think about joyful things. I thought about being on a cloud drifting away from all this yelling. All of my thoughts were crashing together. We were outside the stairs talking about our problems until it was getting late.
One day in the middle of 2009, my dad took me somewhere and it wasn’t that big or full with people. It was a small store that sold religious things. I would see him write down numbers and he asked me which numbers he should pick. I saw him write it on a yellow paper that says “California Lottery”. When he finished writing down his numbers, he went to the cashier and the cashier printed out some small paper. He scanned the small yellow paper in the machine and it said that he lost.
I asked myself while staring at the yellow wall of the store, “Why is he doing this? Does it make him happy?”

When we came home, we saw a paper posted on the back door saying that we had three days to pay the rent or move out. I was shocked. I didn’t know we were two months behind.

My dad told me, “I’m going to pay the bill by tomorrow.”

I trusted him. I heard my mom had the money to help my dad pay the bills. Even though my parents are married, they don’t pay bills together and I don’t even know why. My dad had some money left but it wasn’t enough to pay bills. It was a helpful thing that my mom pitched in because she wanted to help. She worries a lot about me and my younger siblings, David and Cathy.

After hearing that we weren’t going to have to move out, it was a relief, but I’m not sure if he’s going to pay the bills again. I knew I had to speak to my dad about our bills and his gambling problem.
After all the thinking, I went to the living room and asked my dad. He was happily sitting on the couch watching some dull boring news.

“Dad, why do you always play the Lottery?” I asked him.

“Because one day I’m going to hit the Jackpot,” he stated.

My sister heard him and laughed at his answer. I didn’t think it was funny. He walked away from me and I didn’t have the chance to tell him everything I wanted to say, that he needed to stop gambling and wasting our money.

I asked my mom quietly, “Mom? When did dad started gambling?”

She replied mad, “Ugh, like 8 years ago.”

She told me it started he first found out about it. When he first came to America, he never had gambled. In his hometown, Vietnam, he never gambled.

I was jolted because I didn’t know he started that long ago. My mom didn’t want to talk about it so I stood there and begged her to tell me.

I asked, “Why does he do that?”

“It became a habit and I’ve tried to talk him out of it, but it’s useless,” she mumbled.

I refused to believe this. I felt like this problem could be stopped, if only someone had the guts to really confront him. His gambling was ruining our family. I felt very furious that I started crying.
About a week later, my dad was in the living room asking my mom for more money again. That’s when I went up slowly to him and asked him, “Why do you need the money?”

Eventually, he stayed quiet for a while and I just couldn’t handle it. I screamed at him so he would tell me the truth. I knew he felt bad because I could see it in face. His eyes were red and he looked ashamed.
“Do you know what you’re doing to our family?”
“No... tell me what’s the problem?” he asked in an angry deep voice.
“Are you serious!?!” I was about to burst.
I couldn’t believe that he didn’t know what he was doing to our family. At first, I thought he was playing sarcastic, but then I realized he didn’t have a clue. He looked at me, my brother, and my sister. My sister started crying and left. My mom was aggravated too because he wouldn’t tell us the truth. I had an impulse to keep going and say everything that was on my mind.
I shouted, “You’re just making it worse!”

“Okay! I’m very sorry that I hurt you guys and I’m going to make a promise.”

“Yeah, sure. You never keep the promises that you make!”

“I promise to not steal money from your mother and not gamble as much. Okay?”

“Fine, but this is the last time I’m going to trust you,” I replied back.

As a result, we made a compromise that he would stop asking for money and that I wouldl tell him if he’s hurting us again. That’s when I knew he had finally figured out the problem. My mom was relieved that the argument was over. When my brother and sister heard the noise stop, they sneaked back into the living room.

“Is it over?” my sister asked.

“What do you think?” I asked sarcastically.

My sister gave my dad a huge warm hug and he had a enormous smile on his face. Things went normal during the past months. Our family got closer and there were less disputes. My dad stopped asking for money but he didn’t really stop buying lottery tickets. He just buys them less often.

Still, I am proud of him. I can see that he tried his best to keep the promise. His change made us closer and him keeping his promise made him a better person and a father. I feel like our family is happier and we get a long together. Now, we spend more time together as a family.





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