My Mom stayed over the last few days, and it was great. I live about an hour away from her and with managing two kids and working from home, sometimes it is hard to find time to just chat with her. Having my Mom over for a couple nights made me remember when I was little, when she would tell me many of her life stories. My Mom’s stories are special and made me understand the woman she became. I decided to write these stories down so my kids can read them in the future so they can also hear these special tales.
My Mom’s name is Hao Nguyen. She was born in 1956 in Hue, Vietnam. She came from a middle class family. Her family dynamic were a little different than other families though. Her father, my grandfather, had two wives. His name was Tam. My Mom described him to be a very educated and knowledgable man. Back in the day, having a son was very important in Vietnamese culture so the family name could be carried on. His first wive had one son and two daughters, but her son died early due to illness. Because there was no son to carry on his family name, Tam’s parents, my great grandparents, made him marry a second woman. Despite not wanting to do this he still needed to obey his parents’ wishes. His first wife then set out to find a second wife for her husband.
Okay. A quick thought as I’m writing this out, I couldn’t imagine what his first wife was going through. If I was her, I would not have accepted my in-law’s wishes. I would have left him and brought my kids with me…. Anyway, let’s continue with the story.
His first wife asked her second or third cousin to marry her husband, and her name is Di, and yes she is my blood grandmother. When Tam married Di, all members including family from the first wife, lived together in one household until Di had her first child. Tam then purchased another home to accommodate both his families. His main house was in the village while his second home was near the city. There was set organized schedule for when Tam would be with each family, but Tam would typically remain in his main home in the village while his first wife’s family and Di’s family would switch houses every six months. This wasn’t always the case since my Mom told me Tam would switch houses himself sometimes. Di and Tam together had six kids (three sons and three daughters). My Mom was the third child. Though Di has six children, Di’s first born son was shot accidentally by a soldier when he was five or six years old.
I’ve never met my grandfather before so I don’t have any memories with him, but I have memories with both of my grandmothers. I had a better relationship with my step grandmother than my blood grandmother, Di. I remember whenever I visited them, I would sleep with my step grandmother in her room and she would always give me treats. I didn’t have a lot of memories with my blood grandmother, though. She is a good person but she favored her son’s children. Since me and my siblings were born from my Mom, we didn’t receive a lot of attention and she didn’t talk to us much.
Isn’t it crazy that my Mom grew up in a polygamist family and grew up in a culture where sons were more favored than daughters? I can’t imagine life back then especially being a girl. This makes me appreciate my life so much more since I live in a place and time where men and women are equally the same. If you like her story so far, make sure to follow for more coming. I’m so exited to write more.
Note: all the stories are true and based on my mother’s memory. This all occurred in the past. Please, no mean comments for my ancestors.