17. Who Gave Me The Name Lay?
Once I had a chance to ask my Dad (July 1994)
Why did you give me this funny name?
No, we did not give you this name,
Your nursing woman gave you the name.
We were so busy working day and night,
Cang, Ký, Lý, Trí, Toàn, Xuân, Lạc, Hồng
Eight names were for eight of you,
Starting from the oldest to the youngest.
My father was very skillful man:
A soccer player, a farmer, but cooking was his best.
He even knew how to build houses,
Running electricity, carpentry, brick laying, all of that.
Like father like son, so sensitive I was.
My father got his feelings hurt easily.
Whenever mt father was mad at my mother,
He stayed out until my mother begged him home.
We children had never seen our father angry;
He never scolded or whipped any children.
Any one of us kids who wanted to have a whip in the butt,
My mother would gladly give us a few lashes to remember.
After I became a U.S. citizen on May 1, 1981,
I changed my name to Jim Tam Hoang Huynh.
All my childhood friends only know me as Lay
Jim is for Americans to get used to my new name, I hope.
Because of Liên laughing at my name once,
And it’s still uncomfortable for me to this day.
I prefer to introduce my American name to people,
The same man with three different names to different people.
U.S. citizenship at the time was very strictly controlled,
There had to be two U.S. citizens to recommend me.
Pastor Jim and Fred Spangler were more than helpful,
Fred said I was pretty bad with his tongue-in-cheek remarks.