Shadow

I always have a conflicted feeling every time I leave my parents. Yesterday, we saw them off as the cab driver took them to the Vancouver airport to go back home to San Francisco. My parents are good people at heart, even though they don’t always seem that way based on the way they perceive the world and their actions. I always feel especially sorry for my mother, who lived in very poor circumstances and many times feared for her life growing up in the countryside of central Vietnam. She came to the U.S. with all these hopes about what her future would be like, but instead, she came to experience a whole set of challenges she never thought she’d have to face: racism from the very family she married into, her husband taking his mother’s side over her’s many times, mental illness, and many other disappointments. My mom has always wanted to travel; she ended up with someone who didn’t want to travel and instead made travel much worse. My mom’s a nurturing, affectionate woman; she ended up with someone who doesn’t really know the definition of those two qualities. When I look at my mom now, she’s almost just a shadow of what she had the potential to be, broken by her own family and society in general.

The only person who can allow my mom to at least partly get what she wanted out of life is me; it’s a large responsibility and in a lot of ways is a huge weight on my shoulders. My dad’s never going to take her to see the world. He doesn’t have the patience, diligence, generosity, or desire to go anywhere or see anything, so why would he do this for her? Even if Ed were still here, he never would have taken her. He unfortunately got the “why travel?” trait from our dad. But I’m sure that was partly there because of his illness and the fact that no one ever really showed any genuine care for him.

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