BÀ NGOẠI TRONG TIM CHÁU KHÁNH-HÀ

 

                                           

   

Kính thưa quí quan khách. Kính thưa Bà Ngoại. Kính thưa các d́, các bác, các cậu mợ và các anh chị.

Hôm nay Hà được mẹ Hà cho phép lên đây để nhắc lại những kỷ niệm cũng như những đức tính đáng qúi của bà ngoại nhân ngày thượng thọ 100 tuổi của bà. Bởi v́ trong số 9 người con của bà ngoại th́ chỉ có mạ Tú và mẹ Hà là gần gũi với bà ngoại lâu nhất. Do đó mà  anh Ngọc, Hà và em Bảo cũng là những đứa cháu hiếm hoi được sống với bà ngoại lâu nhất so với đàn cháu gần 50 người của ngoại. Nhờ vậy mà Hà được biết nhiều chuyện rất hay về bà ngoại. Bây giờ Hà xin phép quí d́, quí bác và qúi quan khách cho cháu được kể cho quí cousins của cháu biết một vài điều mà e rằng đôi khi c̣n rất lạ đối với họ.

 

I was just saying in Vietnamese how I have been blessed with grandma by my side since I was born.  When we were little, just like what every one of us were used to hearing from our parents, grandma often told us to go to school and strive to become whatever we believed we could become.  It took me sometime to realize that she wasn't just nagging us to do our homework, nor was she trying to hinder us from watching TV 24/7..but that she was trying to push us to take advantage of something that all of us have taken for granted at one point or another, the education that grandma never received.

 

Grandma grew up in a rather wealthy family, but back then schooling was only given to boys.  Her parents, my great grandparents, were able to home school their sons taught by local prestigious teachers.  Being a female, grandma wasn't allowed to sit on any of these lectures.  Her desire to learn got her in trouble numerous times after getting caught skipping chores and eavesdropping outside the classrooms just so she could imitate the alphabets, and resolving math problems.  Her stubbornness and persistence won over the heart of one teacher, who convinced her parents to finally let her sit in class with her brothers.  That’s how she learned to read, write, calculate…but that was as far as she was allowed to go.

 

Came with all the old school teachings grandma inherited very stern ways of disciplining her 9 children.  My poor dearest uncle, cau Hoan, second oldest son still residing in Vietnam, received most of the beatings for his constant misbehavior.  What I realized later was that I wasn't far much different than Cau Hoan, growing up, I was constantly raising my mother's blood pressure. Yet this time instead of letting my mom disciplining me, grandma would always get in the line of fire and told my mom to chill out, to ease up with the "stick", the same one she used on Cau Hoan.  I wasn't sure if she was getting softer, but I was just thankful she was always there when my behind needed her the most.

 

When we came to America in 1985, being a single mom, my mother was busy working to support us, grandma remained by our side at home making sure we were grounded.  She used her time while we were at school to cook and bake, and eventually invented a way to bake our traditional new year's dish, banh chung and banh Tet.  Her baked goods became so much in demand that she would oftentimes go to bed every night at 11pm and get up at the crack of dawn just so she could finish with everyone's orders.  Every morning she was awake by 5am tung kinh, and praying for as long as I could remember.  She was 78 years old then.  One of my fondest memories was when my brother Bao and I would come home after school and helped grandma wrap hundreds or so of these banh chung, we got her addicted to kung fu movies that we got so caught up with them, she had forgot and burnt the entire pot of banh chung. Since then she gave up kung fu movies for good.

 

A few years later when my mother persuaded grandma to stop with the home business, grandma spent 8 hours a day when she could, and turned our yard into a complete garden full of tomatoes, bittersquash, cucumber, rau muong, herbs, watermelon...you name it, we got it.  It was quite amazing coming home from schoool looking for grandma, only to find her carrying sticks and branches from one side of the fence to ther side to build her garden.  My uncle Bác Súy, should also be credited for having a lot to do with helping grandma accomplish these tasks. 

 

Perhaps with 100 years of manual hard labor allowed grandma to be where she is today.  Perhaps her selflessness in giving back to her family and the community did.  Whatever it is, I'm thankful she's here to remind us that she really is the root, and the reason of why most of us are here today.  Words can't describe how honored I am to have been born into this family, to be my grandmother's granddaughter.  I can only hope I have inherited a little of her courage, her strength, and her wisdom.  Thank you for letting me share a bit of my memories of Ba Ngoai, these will forever live in my heart. 

 

Kính chúc quí quan khách, quí cô bác và quí anh chị thân tâm an lạc và một bữa tiệc chay rất ngon miệng. 

Nam mô A Di Đà Phật.

 

Hoàng Thái Khánh-Hà

Mar, 29/ 2008