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Homecoming Bliss: Reflections on Reuniting with Family in Vietnam (170)

It's 5:53 a.m. on Saturday morning. I woke up a couple of hours ago; each night, I wake up 2-3 times. I think that by the 2nd or 3rd week in Vietnam, I will be adjusted to the time zone, which is a day and night difference from America.

Right now, I'm lying on my hammock, listening to Vietnamese music with no lyrics and sharing my first few days here in Vietnam.

First and foremost, I'm truly happy and thankful to be back home for as long as Mom is on earth! Each morning, I make sure to come downstairs to talk to her. I hold her fragile hands and walk up and down our driveway. After a few laps, we sit down on a swing. Yesterday, I called her youngest sister from Da Nang. We had a great conversation. My aunt was happy that I called because she had no way of calling Mom directly.

For entertainment, I shared our videos on YouTube with Mom. She looked at the videos but does not seem to fully understand or recognize herself in them. I'm going to figure out how to stimulate her brain. A doctor friend from America suggested acupuncture as a good way for brain stimulation.

Every day is like a new day for Mom. She reminds me of the movie '50 First Dates,' starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore where the main character does not remember her boyfriend. Each day is a new day for him to show her his love.

The other day, Mom kissed me on the cheek a few times after I returned from a long morning trip. She was both happy and crying when I reminded her that I would never leave her again! Mom is now like a child, very afraid of being abandoned.

I love where I live; the market is within walking distance. The first day out to the market, I recognized the neighbor selling lottery tickets with his usual high-rise waist pants and tucking in a white shirt. The lady who sells Bún Bò Huế for a few decades in the same spot was still there with her assistant. The other lady across from her selling miscellaneous household products and sugarcane drinks is still there. Almost everyone whom I often buy products from is still there, as if time never ceased.

After fifteen minutes in the market, I made my way back home, but my heart felt heavy as I was walking toward my neighbor who didn't look so well the last time I saw her. I was afraid that she was no longer working there. I mentioned her in my last story in Vietnam during the last trip I was here. To my surprise, she stood tall this time! She said she got well through using Eastern medicine, which is only herbal. What stuck out from our brief conversation was that she told me she had to get better or vanish. She would not want to live a life with sickness.

As a tradition, every single time I am home, I buy fresh flowers and fruits for our ancestors. It's our way of showing love and respect for them. As Mom's assistant helped me arrange the flowers in a vase, she pointed out that there were nine flowers, which are our lucky numbers again.

I am happy and grateful again for being able to be home with Mom and my siblings! Their love shows through their care for my well-being, providing me with everything I need from a hammock to an electric kettle in my room. I am truly blessed and can't ask for more. Thank you! ♥️

Crystal H. Vo

January 20, 2024

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