My cousin’s Vietnamese name was Hoa Thúy Huỳnh, but Americans kept butchering her name as Hoa Thúi (rotten flower). When she was sworn in to become a U.S. citizen, she changed her name to Karen Huynh. Out of all my cousins, I have tremendous respect and admiration for Karen. She is thoughtful, generous, and confident. She also graduated from F&M with a bachelor’s degree in business. Most important of all, she always believed in me.
When I first arrived in America, she took me, our nephews, and niece to Friendly where I first tasted the Jim Dandy. When my mother called my sister and I stupid, which was typical in Vietnam, she would defended us, “Antie Four, please don’t call them stupid. They are very smart.” Just that remark alone had left a positive impact on me until this day. Karen was the cousin to go to when I needed someone to talk to. I trusted her.
When I was applying to college, she told me about La Salle because I had a passion for music. I imagined myself as a sound engineer. I had no clue what a communications major was, but it sounded really cool. When I visited La Salle, I fell in love with the sound control board in the studio. Even though communication didn’t work out for me, I was glad that I went to La Salle based on her recommendation.
We didn’t keep in touch much after I went away for college. When I came back, Karen had become a completely different person. I noticed the change in her when her only son was diagnosed with severe autism. She blamed the vaccines for her son’s autistic behavior and went down the path of conspiracy theories.
These days Karen and I are on the opposite end of medical, political views, but we have a mutual respect for each other. We agree to disagree. The last time we sat down and talked was a few months ago when Uncle Six passed away. We had a few exchanges on Covid vaccination. I just mostly asked her questions about her anti-vaccine position. I just wanted to know her sources. Even though we were not arguing and fighting, she made sure that we didn’t let our differences in opinion ruin our relationship. I assured her that I won’t let that happen. It is definitely not worth it. I love my cousin too much to let politics screw up our relationship. I learned my lesson and avoided discussing politics in public.