Life in Brisbane the first time

July 09, 2018


The first time we came to Brisbane from Germany, The Phamly didn't have the best run. We were renting a house on Wedgetail Street, around the corner from where Dad Pham and Big Brother Pham now live. I don't remember much of the time here - I was only 5 and the memories are flashes of scenery or moments that don't make sense because I'm missing context.

What I know is that something bad happened, and Mum Pham moved us away to Melbourne to be near her side of The Phamly after only 6 months in Brisbane. Mum and Dad never went into it when we were kids. But decades later, I'd learn it was because one of our relatives was a struggling heroin addict at the time and stole jewellery and cash from us for their habit. There was a big fight and Dad conceded to move The Phamly to Melbourne to be closer to Mum's side of the family.

I clearly remember one of the items that was stolen: Mum's jade bird necklace. It wasn't of much value compared to other heirlooms that were stolen but I loved that necklace. I used to play with it when Mum held me to her chest as a baby. It was of a bird in flight - similar to how children draw birds in the sky as two arched lines with curved tips. A plump version that was curved to a natural rock formation and polished with gold chain tassels on the tail. I've never been able to find anything close to the design. Maybe one day I will stumble across the original. It's somewhere in Brisbane still, I hope.

Since the initial robbery that made us up and move to Melbourne, my parents have helped bail this person out of other debts too. When I learned about everything that went down, my uni years suddenly made more sense. This relative used to visit us and would often sneak me a bit of cash for 'being a good girl.' I realise now they felt indebted to my parents and wanted to give something back once they were in a good place and could help.

Life would have been very different if we hadn't moved to Melbourne. But we did. And that's a story for next time.

- THE END -

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.

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