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The Strength of My Mother, Sister Temy T., March 19th, 2023

Updated: Feb 25

It was 1975 and I was 1 year old. My father, a helicopter pilot for the South Vietnam army, sent my mother and his 17 year old sister from Nha Trang to Da Nang before he deployed again. At 25 years old and a few months pregnant with my brother, she took her sister in law and me to a new city where she knew not a soul. But my father had many friends and connections. She went to his friend’s house and asked to stay for a few nights.


The way the VietCong, the North Vietnamese, captured a city was to agressively bomb the city then lay siege to it and take it over. So a few days later in a stranger’s house, Da Nang was being bombed. Everyone who could find a way to flee, fled quickly. The host of the house she was staying in bought boat tickets to leave for another city. They told her to please lock up when you leave the house. Now my mother, me, and aunt are standing outside of the house while people fled from all directions. She had no way to get to her next destination. She thought that it would be best to get to Saigon and find out about my dad’s whereabouts and find some relatives. My aunt is standing next to her, carrying me, crying her eyes out because of fear.


At this moment, my mother tells me she’s so calm and strong mentally. She doesn’t know why but she attributes this to her God. She told my aunt there’s no point in crying. If we can get to Saigon, we’ll go and find our relatives, if we can’t we’ll hunker down and try not to die. If we survive, then we’ll go back home and find our families. She calls a rickshaw driver over and tells him she wants to go to the airport. He takes her, me and my aunt to the gate to buy tickets. At this point, she couldn’t afford to buy plane tickets. She stood for a long time trying to figure out what to do. Then a thought came to her mind, like a revelation. She was standing at the gate for civilians. She must get to the gate where the soldiers are deploying. She calls for the rickshaw driver again and he takes her to the other gate. The instant she gets off the rickshaw she walks directly to a group of men standing around in civilian clothes. She introduces herself and asks what regimen he belonged to. The gentleman was in the exact regimen as my father’s and he was a friend. My mother didn’t recognize him since all the soldiers were in civilian clothes to avoid being shot at by the VietCong. The gentleman said that my father’s helicopter had been shot down a couple days ago but we have no news of what happened to him. My mother glosses over this comment and continues on with her story. She asks if she can get a ride to Saigon with the men. As soon as she finished her conversation, the military truck arrived and she was the first to get on the truck. When they boarded the airplane, they just had enough room for us.


We landed in Saigon and relief workers helped us live in a hanger of the airport. They helped her buy food and sundries to cook and eat. Everything was quite peaceful for a few weeks. Then the bombing started in Saigon. Another mass exodus out of Saigon begins. Again my mother and my aunt, carrying me, are standing on the street not sure what to do. Just then a friend of my father on his little scooter spots her and drives up. He told her he’s only going a certain distance but he’s willing to drive them to his destination. We all can’t fit onto the scooter. He proposes that he’ll take my mother and me first, then come back and get my aunt. Again, my aunt cries hysterically. What if we lose each other? What if he doesn’t come back for me? How will I find you? My mother decides to go for it and gets on the scooter with me in her arms. He drops her off and goes back for my aunt. The ride was very helpful and it was quite a distance that they didn’t have to walk.


Out of all this commotion and crowds, an acquaintance spots my mother and offers to help, inconveniencing himself. My mother still tears up when she talks about this moment. Everyone was running and trying to survive, but he stopped to help her.


Again, they had to find a friend of my father’s and ask to stay for a few days. Fortunately, they were given shelter. Eventually things calmed down because Saigon was taken. During the fall of Saigon, the day we lost our country, the Americans left in droves and were willing to take anyone who wanted to go with them. My mother found out that my father was captured and imprisoned deep in the jungle. She decided to stay and find her way back to visit him and take care of her whole family. My mother believes that you MUST look after your family first, then God will bless you. She did it out of her sense of duty and moral character. She is the glue in our family, she decided years later that all 6 (the family had grown a bit) of us will escape Vietnam together. And we did.


Miracles happen everyday. It’s a matter if we have faith that they will happen and if we stop to recognize them. I leave this with you in the name of Jesus Christ.


Amen.

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