“…So, the nurse today asked if there are any other relatives that may want to say their last farewell to mom. If so, she recommended that you come in the next few days, Friday and Saturday because after that it will be very uncertain…”writes my cousin David Pham. C” My (pronounced like ‘me’), David’s mother, is my father’s youngest sister and she is dying of liver cancer.
C” My was the victim of a bomb explosion in 1971 during a Viêt Nam campaign visit by Senator George McGovern. That evening my father’s siblings and spouses were out dining with their cousins to celebrate the recent promotion of one of the cousins. Unbeknownst to them, rumors were circulated that Senator McGovern would be in the same vicinity which resulted in the planting of an explosive in the building. The explosive was attached to a bicycle left leaning against a wall. C” My lost her husband, her brother and his wife. As she later described the incident, did not hear a booming sound. Instead, she heard a loud ‘PSSST’. She also lost her jaw and one eye in the explosion because she had her head turned to one side as she was conversing with her neighbor.
I had the pleasure of getting more acquainted with c” My the summer of 1972 when she arrived from Viêt Nam with her son David and c” Nga (her older sister) with a medical visa. They stayed with me in a sorority house on the hills of Berkeley for a month until they found an apartment in San Francisco – closer to where c” My would be having more reconstructive surgeries to correct the damages on her face. Since then we had visited a few times but our lives had led us to different paths. With their zest for life, c” My and c” Nga did not wait long to find American husbands to share their dreams and concerns in the US. Jim, c” My’s friend, could see the true c” My past her scarred face and glass eye. After the end of the Viêt Nam war and the arrival of the surviving Trân siblings and cousins, Jim and c” My eventually moved to Santa Ana in Southern California to be closer to her sisters and cousins.
Although it has been over 30 years since I have seen c” My, the news of her dying shook me. Is it because I am reminded of the long impact of war? The Viêt Nam war ended in 1975. Her liver had to process innumerable medications from the multiple surgeries she had to endure. Indirectly the war had led to her liver cancer. She is the youngest of her surviving siblings. She should not die so soon.
I believe that wars should be avoided because it only destroys families (l lost my father in Viet-Nam) and brings pain. But I also believe in the strength of the human spirit to keep on living despite incredible circumstances – as gloriously demonstrated by c” My.
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