Life in Melbourne - Dad Pham

November 05, 2018


Even though he was far from Phamly in Brisbane, Dad had the best time in Melbourne with his old navy buddies. Melbourne was where he was most relaxed and, even though we were a poor Phamly and Mum had to stretch every cent of their pensions and our youth allowance to keep a roof over our heads, electricity in the home, and food on the table; it was also the first time Dad felt at home since he'd left Vietnam. Germany was where he had to make his home after the war, but we were very much outsiders. Melbourne is where he had community and friendship - and Vietnamese food!

Distance and Dad Pham's penchant for changing phone numbers every few years because he gets over being popular and wants to hermit for a while put him out of touch with most of his friends. Recently, a Melbourne friend called him after nearly a decade without contact and it sent him down memory lane.

Dad used to go for sauna and swim session most days, and morning walks or bike rides along Maribyrnong River with this friend. Bac Yen tracked down Dad's number through a mutual friend and for over an hour they caught up on each other's lives, compared old age battle stories, and reminisced about the past. For a full week, Dad was keen to win the lotto so he could move us all down to live in a row of townhouses and be near his favourite Melbourne people and spots. That fantasy died when he remembered how cold Melbourne gets, and how he can barely cope with Brisbane winters now. If anyone has lived through Brisbane winters, it's cardigan weather (if that) for Melbourne peeps.

Melbourne may have been the happiest time of his life, but Dad came to realise the past is past and even if he moved down things wouldn't be what they were. He and his friends no longer have the energy to go for long walks every day, and the massive feasts wouldn't be the same without Mum Pham to cook and host them.

I wonder what time in my life I will look back on as my fondest. I'm kinda loving where I'm at now. But Dad likes to remind me that I'm simple, and I'm always happy because I'm content with what I have. Maybe I won't have a favourite time of my life, because pretty much all of it is my favourite. Even Mum's inevitable passing, though devastating as it was, taught me to love and appreciate on a deeper level than I had before so I don't look back on that time as a bad part of my life.

- 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.
Part 12 - Moving to Melbourne - First impressions.
Part 13 - Life in Melbourne - Dad Pham - The good old days.

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