A Familiar Image
#61
(2022-05-16, 01:12 AM)schi Wrote: ... how many limes in a jar and how much is it ... the price is time value ... i think your Màmá side might come from Zhuang Guangxi with the famous Zhuang Preserved Limes ... why don't you keep your business secret ... it's easy for someone makes that traditional preserved limes in just 1 month but look like 3 years old ... as they can make 1-month  fish sauce while the traditional one need at least 1 year to extract ... i understand why you want to revive your Màmá treasure of cooking because i feel the same way even though my Grandma cooking very simple without any fancy ... it's just because she raised me and i still miss her so ...

All my grandparents from both sides are Teochew, though I don't know where did they live in China before coming to Vietnam, except for my father.  My maternal grandpa is a descendent of a large Chinese family whose ancestors immigrated to Vietnam during the Qing Dynasty, and he can speak Vietnamese fluently because my maternal great-grandma is Vietnamese.

So why didn't I keep my business secret?  I didn't think it was necessary.  In fact, I intend to be more transparent with the production so that it helps to build consumers' confidence.  There are lots of details in the process of making those salted lemons, which I had spent a great deal of time testing and refining before arriving at the finished product.  Those details are the information I don't share.  There are nine lemons that perfectly fit into a jar, and the wholesale price is 60,000 vnd.  The regular price is 90,000 vnd, but I focus more on selling it to grocery stores and other outlets at the wholesale price.

As you probably can tell that I don't chitchat online a lot, but that's just my personality.  In addition, since I am in the process of learning to write personal stories and sharing so much personal information in public, it's better that I don't chitchat too much.

Do you know or speak Chinese at all?
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#62
(2022-05-16, 11:31 AM)DuyVIII Wrote: ...
Do you know or speak Chinese at all?

... nah ...  Grinning-face-with-smiling-eyes4 ... but i have sister-in-law from China ... the time my brother stayed in Guangxi to work he saw all the vestiges proving that the region was belonged to old Vietnam ... his Chinese girlfriend can read those ancient poems but doesn't understand the meaning and my brother explain to her ... she thinks he's smart (!) ... he feels sorry for her to be left behind when old Viet people forced out of Liangguang ... then i have Chinese sis in law ...  Grinning-face-with-smiling-eyes4 ... later my brother knows that her grandpa escaped from China to Vietnam just like your grandparents and then to L.A. about 79 ... her Mom follow Grandpa step but unfortunately she's caught at the border into the prison ... now anytime my sis in law relatives come to visit the U.S. they want nothing but fish sauce  ...  Grinning-face-with-smiling-eyes4 ... you can sell your traditional medicine back to your hometown so ... the people there still in shortage of medicine ...
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#63
(2022-05-17, 03:02 AM)schi Wrote: ... nah ...  Grinning-face-with-smiling-eyes4  ... but i have sister-in-law from China ... the time my brother stayed in Guangxi to work he saw all the vestiges proving that the region was belonged to old Vietnam ... his Chinese girlfriend can read those ancient poems but doesn't understand the meaning and my brother explain to her ... she thinks he's smart (!) ... he feels sorry for her to be left behind when old Viet people forced out of Liangguang ... then i have Chinese sis in law ...  Grinning-face-with-smiling-eyes4  ... later my brother knows that her grandpa escaped from China to Vietnam just like your grandparents and then to L.A. about 79 ... her Mom follow Grandpa step but unfortunately she's caught at the border into the prison ... now anytime my sis in law relatives come to visit the U.S. they want nothing but fish sauce  ...  Grinning-face-with-smiling-eyes4  ... you can sell your traditional medicine back to your hometown so ... the people there still in shortage of medicine ...

Thank you for confirming that, and the short story too, appreciated!  However, I must correct one thing from your comment before it could become trouble for you.  No, the people in Vietnam nowadays are not aware that salted lemons are so great for a hot drink or to use as an herbal remedy.  Kindda like the case with Mr. LTP, he didn't know that either.
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#64
(2022-05-17, 12:59 PM)DuyVIII Wrote: ... it could become trouble ... 

... ? ...
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#65
(2022-05-17, 07:36 PM)schi Wrote: ... ? ...

Please don't mind me, dear...  just figuratively speaking.  How about a translated song or another story instead...?  You know, I used to do that too, the ... three dots after a phrase.
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#66

[Image: DSC05817.jpg]

For anyone who had ever fallen in love before, you must have experienced moments of lovesick and heart-wrenching emotion in thinking of someone you love, especially for the one who didn’t love you back.  Such profound memories could be bitterly sweet reminiscences for some people, while others may still fill the experience as rather resentful and disheartening.  I was no exception to such love affairs, but it feels weird for an old man to confess or talk about his love life. The truth is that I have always felt uneasy or even downright too embarrassed to share with anyone about it in person.  Particularly, I didn’t want to see when my kids eventually might see or hear about this part of the story, and that had discouraged me for so long from typing it out.  For years now, I intended to let this part of the memories be something buried with me in my grave, but then sometimes it feels as though I should at least confess by mentioning it, for the truth of my emotional feeling in those years filled with bitterly sweet reminiscences, regardless of how embarrassing it is to mention.  If a self-confession isn’t a way to let something go for good, at least, for once, I no longer feel the need to hold back while typing it.  Perhaps this could help me to erase a chapter that happened a long, long time ago, just by casually typing it out like another story, so it’s now officially no longer be something to bury with me.

When I was twelve years old, after having lived in Hue for two and a half years, my family had to escape the battlefield of the 1972 Easter Offensive during the Vietnam war, the fire burning summer or “Mùa Hè Dỏ Lửa” as it was later called in Vietnamese, and we migrated back to DaNang where our family originally resided for years before.  I didn’t have much of a positive experience during the two years of schooling in Hue.  Not only that I usually felt left out in the new school because I didn’t speak with the local Hue accent like all other students, but I also failed the fourth grade right from the first year and must retake the same class with a new group of younger kids in the following year.  The worst part of it was that no one else from my previous fourth-grade class had failed but me.  I was the only one and it made me feel so ashamed of it.  Although I liked coming back to a familiar school and the neighborhoods in DaNang, I soon realized that I missed Hue and particularly the place where we used to live there.  It was a lovely home situated in the middle of a long garden of fruit trees, and at the end of it was the riverbank of the Perfume River.
 
My parents rented the two-flat rental garden home located at the rear end of a long dirt alley.  There was a very large longan tree standing right at the entrance of a long narrowing dirt alley, which led to a relatively dense garden with four-give large trees of star fruit scattered, and then dozens of clustered banana trees planted to border both sides of the whole garden and around a pigpen built with bamboo.  Farther down a dirt path that was padded with rocks and flat stones leading led to a slippery slope before reaching the riverbank, and alongside the riverbank were two large over-grown tall bamboo brushes on both ends marking the separation of space from the neighbors.  Our small newly built house was somewhat hidden among the trees before reaching the river.  The two-flats house came with a narrowed wooden balcony that ran around the second floor.  From the balcony looking past the tree-tops and in between the gaps of the few tall coconut trees in the garden, there was a very nice view of the Perfume River.  This was also the place where I first started to take notice of the girls bathing in the river at night under the moonlight.  At the age of twelve going on thirteen, I was already a loner and loved hanging out high up on the fruit trees alone or taking long naps there during the summer days.  My mind was oftentimes filled with curiosity about the pretty neighboring girl.  Sometimes I even stalked her from high up on the fruit trees looking over the makeshift fence of banana trees and through the windows of her house, and there were times I had wished that I could have a girlfriend who as pretty as she was, even though she was at least a year older than me.

[Image: high-school.jpg]

As my family moved back to DaNang that year, my slim hope of getting to know the pretty older girl next door was short-lived, but such a puppy crush was soon all forgotten when I met the next pretty girl.  This happened right on the first day of my second school year after coming back to the old school, an attractive and well-dressed girl from Saigon, the type of big city girl with a southern Vietnamese accent that I knew nothing about, showed up in my fifth-grade class.  It was the day I saw her for the very first time, a slightly chubby girl with light skin, and an oval face with dark eyebrows that made up other parts of her facial features uniquely attractive, or at least it’s so in my view.  She captured my full attention since day one when she showed up in the class, but I was only looking at her from the corner of my eye.  Sometimes I slowly scanned her from head to feet from behind, or when she wasn’t paying attention.  Those were times when I captured in my memory the most beautiful pictures of her in school uniform, with a short-sleeved purely white shirt tucked in a dark blue short skirt that neatly matched with a brand-new white sneaker.  For the whole two years, I was in love with that innocent image of a pretty girl who used to sit only a few desks behind me every day, but I didn’t spill a word about it to anyone.  It was simply a hopeless and gutless requited love that I had intended to keep all to myself.

It was very clear to me from the beginning that she came from a very wealthy family who owned a successful business that branched out to several other cities, and I was absolutely nothing but a boy daydreaming.  For two years as I watched her had grown older by the day, the lovely image of her riding a mini bicycle to and from school was embedded in my memory.  She had unconsciously and quietly stolen my heart without me realizing it happening, without even a word ever exchanged between us.  Even after I dropped out of school to join the labor workforce in 1976, I intentionally walked by the storefront of her home every time whenever I had a couple of days off for an occasional home visit.  I was just hoping to catch a peek at her as I wondered how pretty she had grown into a young lady, but, unfortunately, I didn’t get to see her again the whole time.  Only much later as I was told that she had already moved back to Saigon for schooling there, which wasn’t long after I dropped out of school, the fantasy of my very first love was shattered upon hearing that news.  I didn’t think that I would have another chance to see her again after that, not that it would make any difference anyway since our paths of life ahead were distinctively too far from compatible, not to mention the differences in family backgrounds, which was exactly the main reason why I had never expressed my feeling for her in those early years.  But all that seemed to have changed when we unexpectedly met again in Garden Grove, California in 1981. (to continue)
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#67
For many young Vietnamese men who emigrated to a new country alone during the late 70s and early 80s, the loneliness of a new life in another country was the toughest ordeal to overcome.  It was the reason why I finally decided to move from North Dakota to California in 1981.  By now I was twenty-one, and the hormone of a young man at this age sometimes triggered the strong desire for being with someone.  Whenever the hormone raged amid the lonely life reaching an unbearable point, oftentimes my thought would resort to some imaginable fantasies for self-comforting.  The pretty images of the neighboring gal in Hue bathing in the river appeared again in my view.  I also thought of “Mai”, the girl I have yet to forget since the last time I watched her leave the school on her mini bicycle.  I still didn’t want to admit it to anyone, but I missed her more than I could ever imagine before.  The harder part to bear was not knowing where she was and how she was doing for so long since then, and there was no way to even write her.  Sometimes I would sit quietly among the people from the same hometown eavesdropping on their conversations for the news regarding her family, until one day when I heard that her family had safely arrived in Hong Kong.  By this time, I already knew that we would meet again, regardless of which country or where her family will resettle shortly. I was so determined that I will go look for her this time.
 
I realized that if life ever gave me a second chance for something I dearly care about, it was meant to be very special.  After having endured so many drastic changes over the past few years, I had changed quite a bit and become bolder, not necessarily in a good way, but the strong determination that rooted me from the railroad days was still in me.  Within a month after I decided to settle down in Westminster California, I quickly got a full-time job working in the poultry department at an Asian supermarket.  Mai was twenty that year, and I was a year older than her, but she was the one who always seemed to be more mature, mentally and physically.  The truth was that I didn’t know much about her or her personality, especially since we have yet exchanged a word with each other, until that one day when I showed up unexpectedly knocking on her door when her family had just newly settled in.  I was in a seemingly uncomfortable punky-looking outfit, which was probably more fashionable than what I should have on, the hair was long and curly, and a hairy face of a man who haven’t shaved for weeks.  In my hand, I was holding a box of chocolate cookies, which I randomly grabbed from the supermarket’s shelf after a long day handling beef and pork there.  The punky outfit was borrowed from a roommate who suggested it, and I shouldn’t have taken his goofy advice or rushed to see her.  I needed to take advantage of the rare opportunity to come over with her half-brother with whom I had been newly acquainted, intentionally.

[Image: Utah-1981-1.jpg]

A rich boy like Mai’s brother wouldn’t care to be friends with a younger boy like me if we were still living in Vietnam, so it was me who approached him intentionally at a garage party, and we had shared a joint as well.  Smoking a joint at a party with the dudes was the type of cool thing that all cool guys would do at a garage party within the young Asian communities, especially during those early of that punky town era, or supposedly so to be accepted by the punky peers.  As her half-brother and I arrived at the door while knocking on it, I suddenly became tense and nervous, probably still stone-headed while trying very hard to hide all that with a straight face.  I must have looked more like a tough guy and gangster in that punky outfit, nothing like a friendly guest.  If the first impression was truly most important, I believe I had already killed it from the get-go, so it was a very good thing that her brother was there for an introduction, or else she probably wouldn’t let me in.  This time I was much bolder than the time we were sitting close by in the same class.  I looked straight into her eyes and at her pretty oval face with the thick dark eyebrows while politely chitchatting away, but the conversation was relatively short because we quickly ran out of things to talk about.  I realized that she was confused as to who I was or where I was sitting during the two years when we were in the same class, except for the name “Xíu” as she might have heard before.  I could understand the reason why an average boy like me was not someone she would care to be friendly with, not then and more likely not at present either.
 
We were so much different from the time when we were kids till the time we met again as young adults.  She must have big dreams as she was determined to finish high school while struggling to learn English, but attending college was her ultimate goal for the near future, as she told me.  On the other hand, I was still in training to become a butcher.  Even though I didn’t quite comprehend what the concept of a college education truly meant, my admiration of her had grown exponentially for her ambition and courage.  In turn, I found her even much more attractive than just a girl with a pretty face in my class, but it also hurt to know that the gap between us will inevitably grow further because of that.  In a way, I was also anticipating such an outcome but didn’t want to give up the second chance without even trying.  Unfortunately, the older we have grown, the further we became incompatible.  But she must have known how much I truly cared about her, even her mother and sisters were quite supportive of me coming over to see her, except they can’t decide that for her.  At least the unexpected reunion gave me the chance to express my feelings for her, and I greatly appreciated that.  At one point before I left California, Mai held my hands for the first time and softly said, “You are a handsome man and still very young.  You will meet someone in the future who will love you wholeheartedly.” And then she added, “I just can’t be that girl for you.” (to continue)
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#68
It hurts to be on the receiving end of the rejection for loving someone.  It hurt a lot, and it was the first time in my life I wept because of a girl, and right in front of her while listening to her telling me to move on because she can’t reciprocate my love for her.  On the other hand, like so many single young Asian men living in Southern California during the early 80s, the American life in our Asian communities there during those years wasn’t even close to what I wanted to experience.  From all the young men I had acquainted during the two years there, nearly every single one of us was illiterate in English.  Many were working part-time on odd jobs, such as waiting on tables, a grocery helper, or a butcher like me for years.  Others were usually unemployed for a long time.  The worst part of the fun and social activities for the cool guys like us boys usually involved drugs and being the tough guys, for all the free time we have on hand, which was usually the one thing we seemed to have a lot of.  In addition to smoking pots so regularly, some events swayed my view and conscience regarding the fun activities in which I was involved.  The few obnoxious benefits of being part of the group were that we took advance of being the crowd to demand free passes to certain places, by which the guys would harass the small businesses long enough until they gave in, like the local movie theatres or a few local mom and pop restaurants.  They would just be patting their chest twice on the left to signal who they are before entering a theatre for free, or before leaving a restaurant without any hesitation at all.  The waiters or ticket attendants wouldn’t dare to stop them.  I just couldn’t do it because my conscience didn’t allow me to enjoy such obnoxious behavior, and it alone was another reason that cemented my decision to leave California.  I simply didn’t want to risk seeing myself becoming a drug addict or one day getting killed from the activities with those young thugs.

Mai was right that I still have a long journey ahead with important things I have yet to accomplish, and a whole family back home waiting for my support.  As always, I didn’t forget that life had also given me a second chance to do better in America, and it was all up to me not to screw that up too.  Therefore, by the end of summer 1984, as I left California broken-hearted to embark on a new life, I came to Chicago with specific goals in mind while continuing to work as a butcher.  One thing I had learned from my failure in confessing my love for Mai was that I needed the ambition and a healthier outlook in life, instead of humbly settling to be an illiterate butcher.  Perhaps I was still hoping that one day I may be able to show her that I also can study and be able to do something better.  I still believe it was her rejection that encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and consider attending school and learning English.  Even when I still didn’t know what I could do with anything I may learn from school, at least I knew then that it would be all worth it if one day I can read, write, and speak English like those college students that she often mentioned, or just like her.
 
Shortly a few years later in 1987, just a couple of weeks after my parents and four other siblings had just arrived in Chicago with my sponsorship, I heard from the grapevines that she graduated with a degree in computer science and had newly landed a great job.  That night, on the way home after a ten-hour workday, I was sitting on the rear end of a bus as usual with two heavy bags of groceries and meats resting on my lap.  Even though I realized that I will never be able to catch up with her, I was happy for her because I wanted to see her doing well.  On the other hand, I was also happy because I had somewhat already alleviated the responsibility for my family.  For once, I could truly see a positive sign for my future and feel a sense of accomplishment.  As I continue to attend ESL classes at night and gradually moved up the level until finally completed my GED, one day a friendly older Chinese-Cambodian man whom I had acquainted from the class wanted to introduce me to someone.  “A nice Chinese-Cambodian gal,” he said.  Even though I wasn’t exactly thrilled about the idea because it made me feel desperate, I reluctantly agreed to meet up with her somewhere.  Before we met in person, I was given a number to call for a chat with her, so I called and was immediately impressed with the sweet and soft-spoken voice from the other end.  Her name was Josephine, and it was one of the few names in English that I liked, which came directly from a love story movie, Napoleon and Josephine.

[Image: Josie.jpg]

Josephine, or Josie as I later called her, was a tall young lady with a light complexion and big eyes, quite different from the usual Cambodian gals I have seen before.  After a brief introductory conversation in which we conversed in Mandarin and English, we agreed to meet up at a restaurant for dim sum.  However, she asked if she could come with her mother because it was the first time that she was going to meet up with a stranger like that.  Besides, she was much more fluent in English than her Mandarin, while my English at that time was barely enough to maintain a short conversation.  Therefore she thought that her mother could be a great help for interpretation.  I found that very strange but still could understand the safety reason and agreed to it.  This time I was more prepared to meet a gal and properly dressed for the occasion, which I had learned from the previous experience when I showed up at Mai’s door for the first time.  I came with a newly ironed white shirt and blue jeans, and she showed up with a relatively conservative long dress in light pink with white floral patterns around the edge just right below her bare shoulders.  She looked quite pretty in that dress with her highlighted fluffy hair, and sitting next to her was her mother gazing at me the whole time. (to continue)
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#69
After a couple of years working in the accounting field, by now I had changed a lot to go along with the office working environment.  I looked quite different within just a few years, and the reason was because of the mandated office dress code with a tie at work.  The long hair was gone and I shaved regularly.  That day when we met for the first time, Josie was impressed with my appearance as she later told me, “very good looking,” she said.  Her mother, on the other hand, was a different story with endless questions.  Her mother didn’t seem to think that my entry-level accounting position was good enough for her daughter, especially after she got to know how much I made at that time.  I can’t blame her for that because Josie was also an accountant and she already made more than me.  During those years in the 80s, it seemed as though the population of single Asian males in Chicago was outnumbered the females by a lot, therefore a young attractive Asian gal like Josie usually would have quite a few male admirers.  “Some of the gentlemen interested in her are one physician and engineers,” her mother said.  She seemed to intentionally skip out the part where it would say, “but she doesn’t like them.”  I figured that my older friend from school must have put in a lot of good words on my behalf for this to happen.  Josie was pretty, conversational, and genuine, but her sweetest voice had me fallen head over heels.  I couldn’t even say one thing about her that day I didn’t like, except for tagging her mother along on a blind date.   

In an attempt trying to impress her mother intentionally, I even wore a suit to officially meet her family and siblings for the first time.  The monkey suit was overdone it, but it was the carefully calculated conservative option.  As we started to go out on dates more regularly after a few months, the one thing I loved the most about Josie was that she wanted to be with me, which was exactly all I ever wanted in a gal if the two people are mutually attracted to one another and understanding the circumstances, to be with me without too much of expectations.  She didn’t mind taking public transportation with me to go places.  At that time, I had already moved out to live alone and still wanted to maintain a simple life without debts.  I didn’t want to own a car because I was still going to school, and a car was not a priority at that point.  In fact, I didn’t even own a cell phone until much later when I started my freelancing career.  She was pretty much like me, without a car and had to rely on public transportation.  Their family had just purchased a family home and needed to save money by limiting it to an old family car.  Sometimes she took her mom’s old four-door giant Oldsmobile to go pick me up on our dates.  My parents liked her humble and gracious personality, but what they liked about her the most was that she speaks their dialect, Teochew.  Overall, it was relatively easy for Josie to be acquainted with my parents because they had been wanting to see me or my older brother getting married, and then grandchildren too, of course.  My father was already in his late seventies at the time, but none of my siblings was married.  “I want to have at least one grandchild before I die.”  He said.

[Image: Duy-1990.jpg]

Josie and I headed off pretty well from the get-go, but there were the obvious and ongoing struggles between the two mothers, mine and hers, to reconcile their differences.  Even though one is Chinese from Vietnam and the other is Chinese from Cambodia, they were socializing in the same Teochew community, and they had mutual friends who probably had made the old quarrels even worse with their gossip and from the grapevines.  The two mothers already hated each other long before Josie and I even met, and that alone had created difficulties in our relationship, especially for me in dealing with her difficult mother from day one.  As soon as she got to know who my mother was, she wanted Josie to stop seeing me, and that was pretty much the same with my mother, but neither one of them could do or say anything to stop us from pursuing what we wanted.  Even though there were clear indications that Josie’s mother was someone difficult to reckon with if we eventually get married, I was still unwilling to end the relationship with such a nice girl because of that.  The truth was that neither one of us could have foreseen how tightly ur relationship will be entwined with the relationship between the two mothers.  One thing Josie and me had in common was that we were so used to living our lives with family responsibility for too long, and we didn’t know when to break away from it.  As we were usually concerned about the family’s consideration, we ended up setting our interests aside.
 
After roughly two years of dating amid the persistent cold war between the two by now soon-to-be mothers-in-law, even though both mothers had doubts about our future together, Josie and I went on to get married in the summer of 1992.  She was 29 and I was 32, a cat or rabbit and a rat according to the Chinese or Vietnamese Zodiac signs, either a cat in the Vietnamese Zodiac or a rabbit in Chinese still doesn’t go well with a rat, and we were in a cat/rabbit and rat relationship, according to both mothers.  It was fair to say that there must be some incidents during the twelve years of our marriage that could prove some zodiac readings were accurate, for our relationship as spouses weren’t as good as when we were lovers.  Perhaps it was also fair to say that the mothers were always a part of our family problems.  I wouldn’t know or understand how the zodiac signs work, but I do know that neither one of us could have predicted what will happen on our wedding reception evening. (to continue)
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#70
A typical traditional wedding in Asian cultures usually lasts a whole day or longer in some cases because of all the wedding traditions.  In our case, the length and size of the party largely depend on the mutual agreement, as well as the requirements, and different preferences of traditions and rituals from both mothers.  This was the part where my mother and mother-in-law had many serious disagreements based on their cultural Teochew traditions.  Even though both of them were the descendants of the Teochew families who came from the same province, one had been following the Teochew traditions that were practiced in Cambodia all her life, while the other was influenced by the traditions that more likely had been modified through generations of family living in Vietnam.  Neither one of their traditions was good or bad in my view, just too much and not always the same in terms of the betrothal gifts before the wedding day, and right down to the details of the traditional ceremony.  Fortunately, the good part of the traditional bridal procession during the day was relatively smooth because it didn’t require the two mothers to meet each other at all.  But for the evening wedding banquet when both sides of the families had to come together to greet the guests, the two mothers quickly started it off with a feisty quarrel to the point that some relatives had to interfere and separate them.  Afterward, it was a war in silence.  Such an awkward situation carrying out as we were all standing at the entrance of the banquet hall to greet the guests, neither one of them can muster a smile while greeting their friends and relatives.  The good thing was that they didn’t talk to each other afterward, not even when they sat at the same table for hours.  The embarrassment was unbearable because it was obvious to the guests that the wedding didn’t go well.  However, Josie and I still had to force ourselves to muster up occasional fake smiles.  We can only hope that the evening will be over soon.

As a filial daughter and the oldest child with four younger brothers in the family, Josie had always been very attentive to her mother’s emotions.  Her father was taken away and killed by the Khmer Rouge when all the children were still very young, and then, within a year later, they had to witness one of her brothers slowly die from starvation in her mother’s arms.  Josie understood how much her mother had suffered while raising the remainder of four young children all on her own.  Therefore, even after we were married, she still wanted to be there for her mother and didn’t want to move out because of the feeling of guilt.  For a compromised option, I agreed to rent the second-floor apartment unit of their family house for a year or two, or until they are more prepared for the separation of the emotional bond between mother and daughter.  It was intended as a temporary solution, but that didn’t go well with my mother.  For nearly three years that Josie and I lived there, only my father came over once to see his first grandchild, Connie, when we had a small party for her first full-month-old.  My mother didn’t come because she wanted to wait for us to bring Connie over to see her instead.  Both my parents and mother-in-law love Connie very much because she was their first grandchild, but that only made the situation even worse because both sides wanted to be the babysitting provider with a monthly fee of $600, which was based on the market value for babysitting services at the time.  I had no choice but to leave Connie with my mother-in-law because we were living in the same building.  Of course, Josie was happy and her mother too, but my mother was furious.  To alleviate my mother’s jealousy, I quietly gave her $200 a month for not having to babysit the girls.  After Connie then came Gracie, but the initial compromised arrangement didn’t change for roughly ten years.  It helped a lot when my siblings and Josie’s brothers also got married and more grandchildren were added to both families.

After roughly two and a half years of living upstairs at her family home, it was long enough time and I wanted to have a place of our own, perhaps buying a home if possible.  After all, the original plan that I agreed to stay at their family home was for two years, during which I couldn’t get along with the mother-in-law at all, to say the least, but the actual discussion about moving out was a complete disaster.  It was more like opening up a can of worms that I can’t manage to put back.  As I argued with both mother and daughter on numerous occasions about moving, my relationship with the in-law family deteriorated further from there.  When we finally moved, our relationship as husband and wife was also being affected by the ordeal because I had verbally fought her mother too many times already, even Josie and I started to have negative thoughts of each other because of it.  She finally agreed to move because I was serious and insisted to move, but both mother and daughter were unhappy with my persistence.  In turn, we ended up with arguments more regularly, before and after, and more frequently.  In many instances, we were quarreling because of what her mother thought or said about me or my mother, or vice versa.  Many friends and relatives even suggested that we should consider moving far away from the two mothers, but that was impossible because Josie can’t just move away and leave her mother like that.  I could understand Josie’s feeling in that regard because it would be more like killing her mother if she did.  It is too difficult to be a filial daughter or son with tremendous family responsibility in an Asian family.

[Image: Connie-Grace-3-A.jpg]

For all the years when we planned the birthday parties for the girls, we needed to plan carefully for the time when her family came over, and then mine, or the other way around.  In other words, Connie and Grace never have a birthday or holiday party with their maternal and paternal families together, even to this day.  After twelve years of marriage, one day during an argument Josie once again suggested a divorce because she didn’t want to live like that anymore.  Me too, I also had enough of the constant negative feeling toward her family, also for the obligation to justify on my mother’s behalf regarding what she did or didn’t do.  In the end, Josie and I were separated by the end of 2003 and then officially divorced in early 2004.

Like all stories that must have an ending for closure, whether it was a happy or unhappy ending will have to depend on the people who are involved eventually look back upon it in the years later.  In the case of a broken marriage, it probably would take the rest of their lives to recognize the positive side of it if any and to learn from it.  Josie and I used to think that we wasted twelve precious years of our lives in an attempt to build and raise a family for ourselves because we had failed in the end.  To this day, I can’t say for sure if she still fills the memories with the same negative feeling as it was nearly twenty years ago, but my thought of the marriage and divorce had changed since then.  I no longer think that the twelve years we shared as husband and wife were simply a waste of time.  Although we indeed ended up divorced, we were deeply in love with each other once.  There were also so many good and happy memories as a family to reflect upon today, and together we had raised the two daughters who are now healthy and happy young adults.  There is usually more than one person to be hurt when a marriage fell apart, and it hurts a lot, but it doesn’t have to last forever.  Josie has always been a great mother to the girls, and she always has my respect as a daughter or a mother.  Overall, I must have fallen in love a few times in my life whether I truly realized it or not, and whether my love was reciprocated or not still didn’t change the way I thought of the ones whom I care about.  After all, there are so many events in life that did not turn out the way I had wished, whether in studying or in relationships in which I had failed repeatedly.  It was all up to me to look at the positive side of the outcomes, even if it took years for me to realize that.  For me, the biggest reward for loving someone is that it gave me lovely memories to reminisce about when I am old, and now is the time.
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#71
Your two daughters look like you. No doubt, they also look like their mother, but no Josie's photos was available, so I can't tell.

It's ashamed that you had to endure much tension during your marriage. Some parents don't mind to make their children feeling guilty in order to break up the marriage. 

It looks like this union was doomed from day one.
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#72
(2022-06-04, 08:02 AM)LeThanhPhong Wrote: Your two daughters look like you. No doubt, they also look like their mother, but no Josie's photos was available, so I can't tell.

It's ashamed that you had to endure much tension during your marriage. Some parents don't mind to make their children feeling guilty in order to break up the marriage. 

It looks like this union was doomed from day one.

Josie is the one holding her family's dog in the photo.  The dog's name is Lance and he lived until he die of old age.  He was very protective of her, but I was the one who took care of him every day until the night when he die.  I kept his ash for roughly ten years after the divorce because Josie and her mother were indecisive on what to do with the ash.  I gave it to Connie when she was nineteen and she finally buried it in the backyard of their new home.  Josie was very surprised to realize that I still keep Lance's ash after so long.  It says a lot about my personality and my sentimental side.

The photo was taken when Josie was twenty-eight.
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(2022-06-04, 02:15 PM)DuyVIII Wrote: Josie is the one holding her family's dog in the photo.  The dog's name is Lance and he lived until he die of old age.  He was very protective of her, but I was the one who took care of him every day until the night when he die.  I kept his ash for roughly ten years after the divorce because Josie and her mother were indecisive on what to do with the ash.  I gave it to Connie when she was nineteen and she finally buried it in the backyard of their new home.  Josie was very surprised to realize that I still keep Lance's ash after so long.  It says a lot about my personality and my sentimental side.

The photo was taken when Josie was twenty-eight.

After reading your post, I rolled back and realized that I saw Josie's photo with the dog before .  She was very pretty . You both look cute .  Too bad that it didn't work out .  Oh, well .  I guess that it's not supposed to be .
Anyone who is kind to animals are salt on earth .  You're a good guy   Thumbs-up4 .
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Phật trí vô biên nhưng chỉ độ người hữu duyên. 
Sư Toại Khanh (Giác Nguyên) Giảng Kinh
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#74
... poor you ... Josie is so beautiful ...  she has the La Joconde eyes and hands ... and poor you ... why you step in non-art forum to look at those caricatures with your injured artistic eyes ... Grinning-face-with-smiling-eyes4 ... by the way, my Pa loved La Joconde painting then he brought home one copy when he had chance to visit Louvre Museum ...
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#75
(2022-06-07, 02:33 AM)schi Wrote: ... poor you ... Josie is so beautiful ...  she has the La Joconde eyes and hands ... and poor you ... why you step in non-art forum to look at those caricatures with your injured artistic eyes ... Grinning-face-with-smiling-eyes4 ... by the way, my Pa loved La Joconde painting then he brought home one copy when he had chance to visit Louvre Museum ...

You are funny!  Anyhow, that photo was taken when she was 28, which was roughly 30 years ago, so it would be "she was..., not is..."  And, no, I don't see her eyes looking anything like Mona Lisa's eyes... hehe...  Now I wonder if I should mention to her from your comment regarding her eyes and hands whenever I happen to see her again...  I think she will have a good laugh out of it...hehe...

Yes, I was bored and kind of browsing around for inspiration before decided to share my takes on the caricatures, which I shouldn't have.   May I ask how old is your Pa?
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