Goodbye Auntie 2

My mother’s oldest sister passed away this morning after a long suffering caused by a severe stroke fifteen years ago. Since then she had been paralyzed and spent most of her time in bed. Not only she had never recovered from the stroke, her condition was getting worse and worse. The last time I saw her, which was two weeks ago, she could barely sit in the wheelchair. The only way to communicate to her was when she blinked her teary eyes to let me know that she understood what I said.

Before the stroke, auntie 2 was a strong woman with a business mind. After migrating to the States, she rebuilt her business from nothing. She started out making bean sprouts. Then she owned a small Asian grocery store. Then she owned a Chinese restaurant with a full bar and liquor store. On the second level of the restaurant, she converted the building into small apartments. We lived in one of those apartments for several years when we first moved to the States.

As the head of the household, auntie 2 led her children into building a successful family business. Although the business was growing, she did almost everything herself. She still planted her own bean sprouts. She made hundreds and hundreds of egg rolls and wontons almost every night. Whenever I was bored in my apartment, I would come down to lend her a hand and she would tell me stories about how she helped my grandfather with the family business in Viet Nam and taught herself business skills. Those stories always inspired me.

Auntie 2 was also a great cook. She used to make killer Kimchee, bún riêu (crab noodle soup) and my personal favorite canh mồng tơi (malabar nightshade soup). The sweet combination of home-grown mồng tơi (malabar nightshade), mướp (luffa) and corn made the soup delightful. Just thinking of canh mồng tơi makes me miss and love her so much.

Even though her children, specially chị Phương and chị Hoa Nhỏ, had done an extraordinary job of taking care of auntie 2 all these years, it was heartbreaking to see her lived in a deteriorating condition. Leaving behind all the tubes, machines, pain and suffering seems to be better for her. Auntie 2’s spirit is now truly free. May her soul rest in peace.