Dot is an American ex-pat who currently lives in Auckland New Zealand, with her husband and two young children.
I was born during a snowstorm, so my dad liked to remind me, when frustrated with my teenage behavior. “I could have been killed driving back and forth in the snow to visit you. This is how you repay me?”
My parents fled Vietnam on April 30, 1975, known as the Fall of Saigon. After being shuffled around the Pacific, they were eventually resettled in the state of Pennsylvania, located in the Northeast region of the United States, where the winters could be frigid and snowy, a far contrast from the tropical country they had left behind.
Few details were shared with me about the past. Not about Vietnam. Not about their escape from the communists. Do not ask. Do not talk about it. That was the way things were. So when my dad offered the detail of the snowy weather, I latched on to it.
What concrete information I have about my birth is contained in a pale blue five by four inch Child Health Book issued by the hospital in which I was born. The inside pages contained blank charts for the usual child health records: name, date of birth, allergies, medical conditions, vaccinations schedule, growth, family history, and developmental milestones. I was born on the anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbour. At 5 pounds and 9 ounces, my low weight was probably not a concern considering my petite mother did not even clear five feet. The immunizations were completed. The growth records started off with regular frequency, but stopped after a year. Family history was left blank. Developmental milestones, ‘jabber, say Mama and Dada, ride a tricycle’ were left blank. How were language and cultural barriers handled back then?
The book that was meant to provide information about my early years raised more questions than answers. So many blank pages with no explanations. It was as if the book was saying, Do not ask. Do not talk about it.
Please submit your story via the Contact page and it will receive a gentle edit from Deborah.