Kingdom in Blue

The Mother I knew was a patient and kindhearted woman. It would not be easy for any mother caring for my father, and a myriad of kids spread across three continents. She could be stubborn about extended family. But it…

Kingdom in Blue

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The Mother I knew was a patient and kindhearted woman. It would not be easy for any mother caring for my father, and a myriad of kids spread across three continents. She could be stubborn about extended family. But it was only a matter of time before everyone was included in her circle. She cared much for every soul — strangers, friends, family, and even my Dad’s cats.
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​​While my father was ambitious on my behalf, my Mother was more concerned about her children’s happiness. Like any good Lao mother, whenever I visited, she would admonish me about my weight while simultaneously asking me what she could cook for me. While I ate, she would often inquire if I had recently met a nice Lao girl. As I got older, she would settle for “any girl.” Perhaps my Mother passed because she was tired of waiting for my younger brother and me to get married. She already had beautiful grandchildren. And those grandchildren already had their own children — and perhaps that was enough.
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​​Sister, Wife, Mother, Grandmother, and most recently, Great Grandmother— at age 88, she was still spry. Truly independent, she walked everywhere in town, averaging 5+ km a day. ( She sold the car after Dad died. ) In her later years, she resumed travel to the United States and SouthEast Asia — harkening back to the days of her youth. She left in her wake a rekindling of friendships, Lao traditions, Lao customs, and reconnected family.
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​​A true matriarch, she’s the only reason my siblings and I are alive. She gave us life. But she also single-handedly got us out Laos during the end days of the Vietnam War. Dad was stateside, or in Bombay, or “in-country.” We’re not exactly sure. Mom gave me an oral history of that event, but its a story for another day.
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​​She’s hosted Kings, Queens, Prime Ministers, and world leaders with aplomb — and still managed to carve out a spot for women in a time and country where such things were uncommon. My Dad’s diplomatic career would not have been as successful without her grace.
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​​She was recently disappointed that the pandemic affected her travel plans, postponed the French Open, and shifted the world’s tennis schedule. She made up for it with a new washing machine and a freezer in the garage. She may no longer be around, but she has enough cooking in the fridge to feed an army throughout this year.
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​​Buddhists believe in reincarnation — the cycle of death and rebirth. The goal is to escape the cycle and reach Nirvana, the end of suffering. It is my hope that my Mother is towards the end of that cycle. I hope she is free from desire, and it brings her happiness. I also hope wherever she is now, they also have tennis.
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