Early this year, my maternal grandmother arrived in America for the very first time. It is her first trip out of Vietnam. She now settles in San Francsico, California where she lives with my mother’s sister. She is aged 64.
It was only during the summer holiday period that I was able to see her for the very time. I have only seen photos of her, but have never spoken or met her before. It was truly an exciting moment for me, as I have not met my grandfather too before he died in Vietnam.
I flew into San Francisco from my home in Houston, Texas. It was planned that I would stay there for a month. Before leaving Houaton, I had arranged to do voluntary work at a local hospice there too, thereby achieving two important task on a single trip.
It was an emotional time for me when I landed at the airport, to be met by my aunt and grandmother. She looked much older than her age, having suffered under the hardship of life in rural Vietnam. She too was emotional, having to meet me for the first time. She does not know much about other than me being her granddaughter. When our eyes met, tears came to both our eyes, and we embraced for a long period of time. She appeared frail and her legs are wobbly.
When we reached my aunt’s home, we talked endlessly. She wanted to know me, my thoughts, and what I had done all these years. It was a lot of catching up. I, likewise, wanted to know how her life had been back in Vietnam, and how she likes America and San Francisco in particular. Our exchanges were funny at times, and thought provoking at times too. I did not realize how she had managed to endured all these years. My mother had not informed me about her much over the years. I now find a common bond with my grandmother.
Besides the family reunion, I was able to work and do voluntary work at a hospice near my aunt’s home. It was a rather small place, but the residents are just as sorrowful as anywhere else. I helped prepare meals for the people there, served them at meal times, and do a myriad of chores. It was tough on my legs, but I loved making a difference to the elderly folks at the establishment. I am blessed that my grandmother does not have to live there. She had a choice, while many of the people there do not.
When I left San Francisco and returned to Houston to prepare for school, I made a solemn promise to my grandmother that I will return and accompany her back to Houston to stay with us. She willingly agreed.
My summer came to be more fruitful than I had expected. I met new people, formed a mutual love for them, and gained a better understanding of what it is like to be old and living a solitary existence. I appreciate the insight, and makes me more humane and appreciative of what I currently have. It also provides me with thoughts to plan ahead, because one day I will be in the same predicament.
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