An early birthday gift

A year ago, I had taken a three month internship in Switzerland. A couple of my friends had done it and recommended that I should too. It was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. It was one of the best experiences of my life and even though I traveled to Germany and France while I was there, Switzerland was still my favorite. I made great friends there and miss waking up to the beautiful Swiss Alps each morning.

birthday gift

Yesterday, I found a birthday card from my grandfather, who passed away a few years back at He lived in Chicago and would often send me random clippings of comic strips and news articles he found interesting along with hand written cards for special occasions. He was not the easiest person to get along with but he was very well-read, respected, and when you sat with him for awhile, had a softness and light heartedness that was sometimes forgotten. I don’t remember ever seeing this card, but it brought tears to my eyes because it reminded me of his smile, his sense of adventure and humor, and his warmth that had faded from my memory.

It roughly translates to:

Dear Marcia:
Happy Birthday! This year, I give to you 10CHF, for you to send to the Swiss Bank for a vacation in the Swiss Alps in the future. If you want, you can invite me along and I will take you on the EuroRail TGV, SwissAir, or take you skiing like James Bond!
Wish you the best in your education, you have always been sweet.
Grandfather and Grandmother Hoang Mai

I guess he knew I would end up in Switzerland one day. What are the chances. The timing of finding this card was pretty fortunate as well, a year after my trip and a month before my birthday. Thank you Ông. I miss having you around.

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