i know what you mean!

1 night only

Posted on: January 6, 2015

For some reason it never occured to me to ask about how I ended up fostered by her cousin-in-law for years.  I always assumed that because she had 3 kids to look after at the time (age 8, 5, and 3), adding another infant to the crowd was just too much to handle and she still had her job at the bank, so it was sensible to send the 3 youngest to her cousins and keeping only the eldest to help out at home.

Last week my oldest sister told this story:

At the time of my my birth, Chau (5) An (3) and my dad were in jail after being caught trying to escape the country.  So it was just my mom and Tram (8) at home.  My oldest brother had always lived with my grandfather.  The first time my mom came home with me from the hospital, Tram found herself woken up by my crying.  She saw my mom crying because of bo’ng dde`,  a phenomenon attributed to ghosts and spirits, an invisible presence pressing down onto you, paralizying you while you are fully awake and helpless.  To me, it resembles a panic attack or, if milder, an axiety attack.  Mom suffers form baby blues and life long anxiety disorder, even as far back as after the birth of my oldest brother.

Anyhow, the 8 year old Tram, facing such dilemma, proceeded to feed, change, and soothe me through that first night. The next day, mom’s cousin-in-law (wife of deceased cousin on my grandma’s side) came to visit and found mom in same state, so she took me away and that was how I came to be fostered by Ba’ Ngoc for more than 3 years.

I have always felt indebted to my foster family, even though they were $$$ compensated for their troubles.  My mom sent money monthly to them all those 3 years, the money coming from my aunts and uncles who migrated to the US and were working the kind of works recent immigrants managed to get.  That’s how I was fed and clothed and, coincidentally, loved.

My foster sister (2nd cousin, by relation), told me that my arrival was also life saving for their family, because with the father passing away due to illness and most of the 8 children were still in school, taking care of me was the only source of sure income they could count on.  She said there were months that hadn’t ended yet, but they already needed to ask my mom to pay in advance just so they could put food on the table.  And my mom, true to her nature, always readily oblidged.

An says I owe Tram that first night, my poor 8 years older than me sister whose 8-year-old daughter now can throw a fit when she isn’t feeling too well.  Many years ago, the 8-year-old that was her already had to stay awake all night long and figure out the ins and outs of caring for a newborn infant.


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