To start this all off, I was informed by my father that his side of the family was pure Vietnamese. On my mother’s side, if I recall correctly or at least what my mother tells me is that my great grandfather was Chinese which means that I am technically part Chinese. However, my parents really never talk about my ancestors so I would not know whether the facts were true or not. The most I know about them is that we have days where we would “lay food out for them” to celebrate their birthday and whatnots. My family could technically be considered a religious family.
Even though we don’t go to the temple every single week, we actually celebrate all of the Asian holidays, especially Lunar New Year. Lunar New Year is extremely important to our extended family as it is the day when we all hang out by going to the temple and praying or hoping for happiness, prosperity, and to be happy. After that, we give each other red envelopes for luck. My grandfather was a fisherman from a town called Da Nang and spent most of his day out at sea so he could make a living for the family.
He had ten children with my dad being the second oldest son. He spoke French to his workers as he was bilingual in Vietnamese and French. My grandpa was a wealthy man in Vietnam as he owned a couple three-story houses. However, after the fall of Saigon in 1975, my grandfather left the country with my father and my aunt, who was eleven and five respectively. They had left Vietnam by a boat that my grandpa navigated. They would eventually hit the United States specifically Louisiana. My father described their experience as being “on their own without knowing English”.
The three was in this world that was foreign to them and didn’t understand much because they never dealt with a problem like this before. My grandfather, father, and aunt were sponsored by people across different states until they had settled in Galveston. Once in Galveston, my grandfather was able to pick up from where he was as a fisherman and earn money to hope that one day he could bring the rest of his family from Vietnam. It was a tough time, though, because the neighborhood that the three lived in was not the best.
My dad tells me that they would endlessly get robbed because my grandfather would be working hard to make the bills. My grandpa was able to move most of his family to America with the money he earned from his convenience store. After that, any money that he earned would be donated to charities or temples. I believe that because of his humanitarianism, it is the reason why I like to help others. Sadly, he passed away this summer but at least he achieved his goal. My mother’s side of the family came from an entirely different background. My mom was born in the city of Saigon in a family of fifteen.
She is the second youngest child in the family. After the fall of Saigon, my mother’s family was actually sponsored by her third oldest sister to move to America as my aunt had been living there as a lawyer. Her family was way more prepared than my father’s family as my mother’s family was able to get to America by plane. Like my father, my mom started her journey in America in Louisiana. They had lived in New Orleans for a couple of months. It wasn’t until the family had traveled west in which they moved to Houston due to the sponsorship. My mother was around seventeen when she started school in America.
She knew no English, but that didn’t stop her from excelling all her classes. While she was in high school, she met my dad as he was renting a videotape from her sister’s store. They ended up dating and both going to the University of Houston. While they were in college they got married. Right before she was about to graduate college in which she only needed to finish one more class, she ended up having me because of the honeymoon. After that, she decided to not finish college and stayed home to take care of me and then eventually my sister. My mom said that “I was a present,” but in reality, I was the accident child.