Life in Germany - the later years

by - March 12, 2018

I got sidetracked from my Dad Series because of our Phamly Reunion in Europe last September. Though, thanks to that trip I learned a bit more about my parents' life in Germany. The early years were tough because they had been all about settling in and learning their new country. The later years were tough because that’s when Dad Pham got sick.

Long Lost German Cousin told us of mum’s hardship. Mum Pham gave up trying to study to pharmacy. She’d graduated in Vietnam but her degree wasn’t valid in Germany, and also she had to learn the hardest and harshest sounding language I’ve ever heard to complete her studies in her new home. She did work for a short time at a pharmacy but it didn’t work out. Things were too much for her to manage since she had to take care of Dad who was in and out of hospital for schizophrenia nearly a dozen times during this period, and she was also caring for three young children in a country that was foreign to her, on next to no budget because poor refugees.

I look at the luxuries our Phamly can afford now - Big Brother Pham and Little Sissy Pham are homeowners, Dad Pham can afford takeout meals, I can afford to spend extra for more ethical items instead of all the no-name branded things we lived on as kids. I wish Mum Pham knew how well she’d set us up for life during her hardships to make the burden feel worth her while. The struggle she must have felt, wondering how she would get her family through the next days, weeks, and months - and not knowing whether this would be forever.

Cousin said she never wavered no matter the trials life threw at her. He remembers life was stressful for her, but she never let it impact others. Mum had the kindest heart of anyone I’ve ever met, but it didn’t make her soft or maybe that’s where her strength came from; she needed to be strong to care for everyone. She was steadfast, and determined - admirable traits that she tried to pass onto me but, alas, I’m more stubborn and annoying. Close, but not quite.

Back in Germany, we walked the streets where Mum used to push two babies in a pram (Little Sissy Pham and me) while Big Brother Pham clung to her side. The locals pitied Mum, the poor Asian lady with three young kids. The whole time we were in our hometown, we only saw two other Asian people who weren’t our relatives. Back then, Asian people would have been so new and different and rare for the locals. One time, Mum told us Big Brother Pham strayed from her because he was always running off as a tiny tot but a German lady returned him to her, because she was so obviously the only person in the mall who could be related to a little Vietnamese boy.

Mum & Dad gloss over the trying parts of their lives with us kids, so I’m grateful our Long Lost German Cousin lived with them in Germany. He was old enough to remember the way things were. I have next to no memories of Germany, it is a blur to Big Brother Pham - we mostly only remember our childhoods in Australia. Which I will cover next in my Dad Series.


If you want to start from the beginning of Phamly history, read:
Part 1 - O Captain! My Captain! Dad Pham's navy days during the Vietnam War.
Part 2 - P.O.W. Viet Cong Re-education Camp Dad Pham's time as a prisoner of war.
Part 3 - Living with Viet Cong Mum Pham's experience with communism.
Part 4 - Boat People Dad Pham seeks refuge after the war.
Part 5 - Finding Faith Dad finds peace.
Part 6 - When Herr met Frau - Dad Pham meets Mum Pham.
Part 7 - Life in Germany: the early years - Dad Pham sets up life in Germany.
Part 8 - Life in Germany: the later years - Dad gets sick, Mum steps up.
Part 9 - Getting ready for Australia - Mum Pham is on a mission.
Part 10 - Coming to Australia - My first memories of Australia.
Part 11 - Live in Brisbane the first time - The story of why we left Brisbane.
Part 12 - Moving to Melbourne - First impressions.
Part 13 - Life in Melbourne - Dad Pham - The good old days.
Part 14 - The Other Phams - Our neighbours in Melbourne were Phams too.
Part 15 - Life in Melbourne - Mum Pham - Our Sunday Phamly traditions began in Melbourne.
Part 16 - Cats On A Train - Moving to Brisbane
Part 17 - Sleepwalking Scare - Moving to Brisbane continued
Part 18 - A House in Brisbane - Moving to Brisbane continued some more

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