Aunty 6’s kids (Phamly Reunion)

by - November 13, 2017

Dad Pham told me how he left Vietnam by driving a boat of refugees, but I never knew the details of how Mum Pham ended up in Germany. That is, until we reunited with Aunty 6's children this year.

Aunty 6's kids took us to dinner twice - once to an all-you-can-eat Asian buffet place, and once to the most German pub they could find our hometown. Over dinner we shared stories of our lives in broken Vietnamese with bits of English. There was one story I'd never heard before.

As my cousin tells it, when South Vietnam fell to the North the communists accused them of being capitalists and took their house as punishment (though really they wanted it to house communists). Aunty 6's family was given 2 months to vacate to a rural plot of land without plumbing, power or roads. Being city dwellers, they didn't see how they'd survive in whoop-whoop with no agricultural skills or know-how.

This forced Mum's side of The Phamly to leave Vietnam. After living under communist rule for over a year, Mum Pham took all four of Aunty 6's kids with her when she fled Vietnam. They went in a small boat to a larger ship out at sea, like Dad but unlike Dad they paid their way onto the larger ship, instead of being rescued. As a result, Mum and her posse of my cousins were turned away from Australia, their original destination, because they weren't deemed refugees since they paid their way. Luckily, Germany was generous to take them in because Germany is where my parents met.

Aunty 6 & Baby Me

Sadly, Aunty 6 was in hospital in Frankfurt when we were in Germany and we didn't get to see her. Aunty 6 is the one who smuggled the diamonds in my diamond ring out of Vietnam with her when she left because she didn't want the communists to have them.

I didn't know her children viewed my Mum as a second mother to them. I didn't know took them to Germany alone when they were teens, and took care of them in Germany, and settled them into their new lives before helping their parents migrate over. I had always assumed their family had fled to Germany together.

It's great to see our cousins are doing well. One owns a pharmacy in beautiful Marburg, and another owns the only Asian grocer in our hometown. Their kids are really bright and intelligent. And also huge. Little Sissy Pham and I dwarfed our cousins, but their kids were bigger than us. There's something in the water or the dairy or the potatos in Germany, that's for sure.


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