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My mom showing her love by her actions — cooking.

My mom showing her love by her actions — cooking.

More Than Meats The Eye

As Told By: Bella


  • My Name is Bella
  • I am based in Marina del Rey, CA, USA
  • This story is about my parents
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  • Childhood Address: Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
  • Departure Location: undefined, VN
  • Departure Year: 1973
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  • Resettlement Location: Fairfax, VA, USA
  • Resettlement Year: 1988
  • My Story

    I had come home to visit my parents from LA earlier this year, and the first thing my mom texted me when I landed was “we will have hot pot for dinner”.

    Having a home cooked meal has always been the one of the many things my mom made sure she never missed ever since I was a kid, no matter how busy she was. As an adult, I can easily understand why - because my Ba Ngoai did that for her eight children after they fled Vietnam and settled in the US. That’s what she knew she had to do to keep her family afloat. To survive.

    But until this day, it still hits home, literally.

    My mom has been one with many career paths. She graduated with a Bachelors in Computer Science and pursued her first few years after college working alongside my Ong Noi (yes, my dad’s dad). She then moved on and opened her first business - a nail salon in Westchester, VA. She drove almost two hours one way every day and at that time, she was running this business very successfully. When I became a few years older, she decided to sell it to spend more time raising me. Fast forward almost eight years later, she had my brother. There was one point where she was home, and my dad was working two full-time, corporate jobs. When my dad was finally able to go back to one full-time job, he got let go. My family and I had to move from all we knew in Virginia to Florida to live with my Ba Noi. My mom then had to jump on her feet and she then opened a hair salon in New Smyrna Beach, FL. Again, driving about two hours one way every day. Fast forward my dad was able to get a job back in VA again, so we moved back. While my dad was able to get a job again, our family wasn’t where we were prior to my dad’s layoff. When I was in high school, my mom decided herself to go back to college to get her degree in Dental Hygiene. While I was struggling in high school trying to graduate and apply to colleges, my mom was also struggling to graduate with a new degree. I watched her fall asleep in our home office, with notebook paper and textbooks piled everywhere. Yet she still got up every morning to take me to school before I got my license, go to class, come home to cook us dinner, and went in that office to study for her exams.

    My mom always gets praise for her cooking. Not only did she take the time, but her craft is truly skillful. She takes pride in making her dishes not only taste good, but presentable. She definitely has a creative side and likes to express it. However it wasn’t until I was an adult that she shared with me she actually never really LIKED cooking. But she know she had to feed her family, because that’s what her mother did. And if she didn’t cook, who would? And if we ate out all the time, we would be unhealthy. But what was originally a necessity to her turned into something she was actually very good at. She took this and turned it into her own.

    When I come home still and see that beautifully thought out table spread full of quality meats, seafood, and hot boiling pot, I always get a rush of memories of all the struggles she had endured. But eventually her struggles turned into pure joy and happiness, because that was the end result of those around her eating her craft. That’s just a glimpse of how selfless my mother is, and many others that I can only imagine.

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