The Other Phams

by - January 07, 2019

Pham is the fourth most common surname in the Vietnamese community (Nguyen is top at nearly 40%, then Tran & Le) so it wasn't a huge coincidence that our neighbours across the hall in the council flats were Phams. The Other Phams as they are known in our world were a Phamly with three boys and a girl, the youngest. We went to the same primary school and their Middle Brother was in the same year as Big Brother Pham. The younger two kids were closer in age to Little Sissy Pham and me. I don't have any photos with them - I guess none of us had cameras back then.

Big Brother Pham and Middle Brother Other Pham were the best of friends before we moved to Brisbane. I remembered they came over and played computer games a lot at our house, and we'd all play downstairs together. Big Brother Pham and Other Brothers Pham played basketball and cricket while the younger siblings played less coordinated games.

The Other Phams adored Mum Pham and Dad Pham. Middle Brother Other Pham told me that in a way my parents were more like parents to them than their own. Sadly for The Other Phams, their parents worked crazy hours and were always away. Unlike my parents who were on a pension and always home, so super attentive of us spoiled Pham siblings.

Often we'd come home from school or grocery shopping on weekends, and one or more of the kids would be sitting on the steps outside the landing to our respective flats because their parents weren't home, and they were locked out. Mum Pham would invite them to ours, and feed them snacks and if their parents weren't home in time dinner too. I still remember Little Brother Other Pham stuffing his face on chicken wings, home made hot chips, and tomato sauce like there was no tomorrow. Funny how random memories stick.

Life in Melbourne wouldn't have been the same without The Other Phams next door. In my hazy childhood memories, it didn't seem odd that they were always around because as kids you just accept that the world is the way it is. It wasn't until we reconnected years later that I learned how special this time in the flats was for them. I hope Mum Pham knew how much of a positive impact she had on The Other Pham siblings. She did a lot of good things for people without asking for thanks, and I still learn new ways to appreciate her to this day several years after she's passed. Thanks Mum for taking care of all Phams.


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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