Vietnamese Interpreter, Food Demonstrator, Rock Climber

My Journey to America – Going Back to Vietnam

A visit with My Godmother

my godmother and me at 2 months old

My first and foremost intention was to go back to Vietnam and visit Mẹ Ðức. I have made a promise to her that after I graduate from college I will be back to see her. One of my four goals came true. Six months after I graduated from Texas A&M, I bought my round trip tickets to Vietnam. I came back with Chris, my husband.

After arrival, the first person I came to see was Mẹ Ðức. She looked older and more tired. Her head was filled with gray hair. I was not sure how I should feel. It had been 16 years since I have seen her. I was only 10 when I left. There was much to say but I didn’t know what to say. I had lived far away longer than I have been with her. It has been so long that I don’t know how I felt. I remembered fond feelings for her. Mẹ Ðức loved me and took care of me for 10 years of my life.

Thinking back since the time I left, I could have written to Mẹ Ðức much more than I did. I missed her. I missed picking her gray hair. I missed someone to snuggle against. In the beginning, I wrote to Mẹ Ðức three to four times a month when I first arrived in America. Then once a month and then every other month then perhaps three or four times a year. I lost sight of who Mẹ Ðức was to me. As time passed, my memories of her in the present slowly faded. I struggled to remember my past sentimental memories of both Bố Ðức and Mẹ Ðức.

I left Vietnam as a timid and scared child. I came back as a proud woman and her beloved husband. Mẹ Ðức saw how grown her child had become. She was very proud of me. Yet, her eyes seemed sad and lonely. She was 55 years old and tired. Mẹ Ðức still had all my little toys and trinkets in her special glass cabinet. Her beautiful and elegant crocheted matte was still there. Pictures of me growing up that I mailed to her over the years were pasted all over the glass case. There were pictures of me when I was a baby and when I was 2 or even 3. She loved me so much. All I wanted and what seemed right for me was to spend time with her as much as I could while I was there.

My godmother met my husband for the first time. She was proud. She said, “Next time you visit, I hope to see my grandchildren.” It seemed like just a dream. Am I living in a dream? I had kept my promise to visit but was my heart in it? Did I really truly appreciate who she was to me back then? I loved the idea of it and I loved the feeling of being a good child who came back to visit as she had promised. However, I am afraid my heart was not there.

My feelings were muddled. Did I lose my love for her? Where could it go? She was so good to me. She loved me so much and how come I can’t love her the same way back? Perhaps at one time but then how come it disappeared? I experienced unconditional love.

Just thinking about it my throat choked with fluid and my eyes dwindled trying to hold back the sudden burst of tears. It didn’t matter if I loved her back or not, her love for me will always be there. She was there to give and not expecting anything in return. My only wish was to have my visits and letters to her as often as possible, to see me grow and to see my children grow. I am so lucky to have experienced unconditional love from Mẹ Ðức and also from my own parents.

Looking back now I could have asked my godmother a lot of things but at that moment nothing came to my mind. All I was thinking was being there with her was what mattered. I just wanted to be in her presence. I played with the little ones who were my cousins.

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