Mr. Hong Phi Mac lived a life unlike any other. He had a strong heart, a determined mind, and a kind gentle spirit toward other people. He learned to work with whatever limitations he may have to make the best of his life situation. He was born in Saigon, Vietnam on March 1, 1934. He identified himself as Chinese ethnicity, and he learned to speak several languages, including Cantonese, Mandarin, Vietnamese, French, and English. He was married to AiKim Tran and they had a family in Vietnam of 6 children: Nhi Mac, Nancy Mac, Fay Mac, twins Erica and Steve Mac, and finally Kinh Quoc Mac.
Hong Phi Mac made a brave and courageous decision in 1979, to plan an escape from the conditions of Vietnam to board a refugee boat on the Pacific Ocean, to go wherever that boat would take him and his family. He had just enough gold to pay for only half of his family to begin this journey, so Nancy, Steve, and Kinh Quoc were selected to join him on this long journey of many months to an unknown destination. They eventually arrived in the United States at JFK Airport in February of 1980 through the sponsorship program to begin a life in New Jersey where they have remained ever since. He was eventually reunited with his entire family on December 25, 1985, Christmas Day, and they had a small house in Roselle, NJ for many years. He worked as an electrical technician to do his very best to provide support to his family. He may have several roles in his life, as a husband, a father of daughters, a father of sons, a hard-working employee, even a patient at Kessler Rehabilitation following a stroke, but by far his most favorite role was that of an “old man” and a “Yeh-Yeh” to his grandchildren.
He lived his final three years of life as an old man, in the comforts of the home of his youngest son Kinh Quoc, his daughter-in- law Jennifer, and two grandsons Tyler and Kevin. He knew that the house was purchased to include him where he could have his own room, his own bathroom, and a great big kitchen table with seating for eight, where he could pull up his wheelchair to be served his meals until the end of his time. He never had to worry about paying for anything at all. One of his final statements was “I love you, Kevin”, directed to his youngest grandson, but we all know that he extends his love to all three grandsons, as he firmly believed that each generation could build and do better than the one before, and that his life lives on through them. James Roy (Thai Ping) Mac age 17, Tyler (Quoc Chi) Mac age 15, and Kevin (Quoc Wing) Mac age 13, all received special Chinese names selected especially by him. He even had an adopted “grand-cat” named Dorothy, whom he called “meow-meow” who is walking around the house wondering what happened to him and where he is.
Hong Phi Mac set a profound example to those who knew him of the value of simplicity, of setting boundaries and working within them, of having appreciation for the most basic things, of keeping track of time so he could always remember the birthdays of his family members, and of caring about lucky numbers and random occurrences. He will be missed, as the house will never be the same without him. He lived in peace and comfort, and without pain, as he neared the end of his life. He did not wish to go to a hospital for treatment or for any kind of medical diagnosis, he just wanted to die of “old age” as an “old man” in the comforts of his home, and he did exactly that. He passed away of cardiac and respiratory arrest at approximately 6:25 am on 9/7/22 at the age of 88.
Hong Phi Mac believed in the American Red Cross, as an organization that might be effective to help people in need. His memorial service will be held at Blackwell Memorial Home in Pennington on September 17, 2022 from 10-11am, a time of day when Hong Phi Mac (Yeh-Yeh) always used to get out of bed and into his wheelchair to begin his day.