For many years, I wanted to write about what it is like to live without my mom. I want people to know how lonely and scary it is. However, there has always been a part of me that is apprehensive about how others might perceive my story, so narrating it a certain way might soften its impact. While working on my shoulder bag project, I realized this would be the perfect opportunity to share my story.
After completing the bag's design, I wanted to name it after my late mother as a way to dedicate it to her memory, considering she never had the chance to achieve her dreams due to her untimely passing. However, I realized that such a name would constantly remind me of my struggles without her, and I wanted to move towards a brighter future.
I briefly considered using my birth name, Ua, but there was a time when I wanted to distance myself from that name and the people in my past, which led me to change my name to Tiffanie. During this challenging time, I met my husband, whose last name was Lee, and who became a guiding light in my life. It made sense to incorporate his last name, which was also my mother's last name, into my brand, becoming Tiffanie Lee. I was a little sad that I did not include my father's name because I felt like he did not care as much anymore since he was absent during the most challenging times of my life, especially in 2006.
In 2006, when my ex-husband left me and my three young children, my father was not there for me. I contacted him multiple times, pouring my heart out over the phone and explaining our situation, but he never offered assistance. I was only valuable to him when I was stable and able to support him in any way he desired. Yet, when I was at my lowest, he remained out of sight despite being the only parent I had left.
For many years, I tried to forget about my father, but the thought of him lingered. I often wondered if he truly loved me. Reflecting on his actions, I realize he wasn't the best husband or father, yet he was always eager to help those outside the family.
For example, I recall one night on our journey to Thailand to escape from the Laos communist government. It was a dark and scary night, and we had to remain silent to avoid detection by communist soldiers. In our group, there was an older woman who was partially blind and deaf and had never married. She lived with her brother's family. As we moved forward, she lagged due to her disabilities. Her brother, along with the leaders of our group, decided to leave her behind in the jungle, fearing she might bring danger to the group. My dad noticed her voice calling from a distance, and after some internal struggle, he decided to go back for her. He carried her on his back and safely reunited her with the group. He couldn't leave her behind despite the challenges, recognizing her humanity and fears. A few months after we settled in Thailand, she came to thank my dad, stating that she wouldn't have been alive if it weren't for him.
On the other hand, my husband's family, whom I met through the church, and the church members stood by us when we were at our lowest. They supported me during my divorce, assisted with daycare, and provided for the needs of my children and me. This is how I met my prince charming, my husband, who completely turned my life around.
Tiffanie Lee represents a fresh start. So, whatever you are experiencing, remember that it's not about who you were but who you've become. We arrive in this world with a unique mission, and I am still discovering what mine might be. It may involve embracing my current life and sharing my journey with others.