What a beautiful, and sad, story about your dad and his friend “Big Joe”…
What a beautiful story about… you.
I know that it is sometimes difficult to have a serious discussion with parents who suffered a lot during the past: the wounds are not well healed and maybe they think we – the children – are not ready to hear their confessions. Sometimes they express themselves in awkward ways because they did not completely “heal” themselves and did not figure out everything completely… Even if we linger to hear these healing words, these phrases that will alleviate suffering and, most of all, the unknown, these “unspoken” things, the silence hurts so much because you just don’t know the truth. And it is unbearable. Sometimes life does not give you any chance: how many abandoned children or orphans do not know anything about their past? It is horrible…
But your dad decided this was the right time for you to know a part of his past, a part of yours, he gave you another piece of the puzzle… He talked to you just like that, without warnings, out of the blue, and you were wise enough not to say anything stupid, but just hear his story and “align” yourself with him just like that, in a second… That is true wisdom 🙂
It is also clear to me that you had to go to Vietnam and make this first pilgrimage, because it won’t be the only one. You will have to go there maybe a couple of times more during your life in order to grasp the reality of this beautiful country, and correct your present “vision” (product of your strong feelings at the museum for example… but these feelings are “too strong”) about it in order to make your own, not the one you think it is for now… Because it is also your country in the end and you have to be at peace with it… And you will be
I think you will continue to write your book about your parents as you were told in Bali, because it is important to you, because you want to know what your “genesis” was. You have to build your own “past” in order to move on… that is why you are so eager to learn a lot of cultures and languages. So keep on learning !
And, if you allow me to make a personal comment about your feelings, I would like to correct your assumption “the war made me”… It is bold, it is strong… but it is not entirely true. I would write “I am a child of love… Of a love born during the war…”.
Please think of it. Please let this idea enter your mind peacefully, calmly. See if it will be yours someday, if you are OK with it: your parents fell in love in the middle of hell, their love was the first best thing they WANTED to create… The second thing, well… it is you : you are a child of love, not of war. Because I do not think they fell in love because of the war: the war was an “opportunity”, as the fall of the iron curtain was for me and Cristina… The love they lived was THEIR choosing, THEIR will, so you certainly were not any accident. You ARE not an accident. The war did not make you.
You are a child of love.
During my short visit home over the holidays, my dad and I often sat at the bar table sipping white peony tea. He was nibbling on a cinnamon roll, I was snacking on some leftover Goi Cuon (Vietnamese spring rolls) my mom made earlier in the evening.
My father fought in the Vietnam war. It’s where he met my mother. There are a slew of Vietnam veterans scattered throughout the country, but few managed to bring back a local from the war torn remains of Vietnam, and even fewer of these couples managed to keep their relationship together through the final, and most difficult hurdle: Culture Shock. Even if a Vietnamese woman were to escape her homeland and be with the GI of her dreams in the supposedly “happily ever after” ending following the Vietnam war, many of them experienced extreme culture shock from both the environment and their new…
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