One of the customs I disliked the most in Việt Nam was having to take my shoes off when I entered a home. It was a pain. Strangely, it is one custom I seem to have retained here in America. The only explanation I can think of is that in Việt Nam the floors are invariably tile, while most floors in America are carpeted. Maybe it was just that tile floors were hard on my old bare feet, but carpet is comfortable. Of course, I wear sandals in the summer heat, but will switch to shoes when colder weather arrives. Shoes are more of a hassle to take off than sandals, so the Asian custom may pass.
While living in Huê, my friend Cu reinvigorated an old love of photography. Some of my best memories of Huê are those of throwing a leg over our motorbikes and heading for the countryside to take pictures. Since returning to America, photography has been my outlet. I have always been a person who loves to learn – and there is much to learn about digital photography. Just as in Việt Nam, when I leave the house, my camera is almost always with me. I post some of my pictures at www.pbase.com/doug_young.
My mother is a time sponge. I spend of lot of time planning to do something with her, or doing something with her. Sure, she lives in her own home, but nonetheless it takes time being with her. As an example, she called me at 8:30 AM. She wanted me to come over and fix her clock. Okay – no problem. A bit later I walk over, and she tells me what she needs fixing. It ain’t the clock. She opens the closet to tell me that she can’t figure out how to turn off “that thing.” It took me about five minutes to figure out she wanted the front porch light switched off. I returned at 11:30 to bring her over for lunch, and took her home again at 2PM. Later, I brought her her mail and chatted awhile. No complaints – but at the end of the day, when I wonder why I’m tired and haven’t accomplished anything, I look back and realize I have accomplished a lot – I’ve kept a relationship going.
The Mystery Guest Blogger came up with a thought the other day. If we were a traditional Vietnamese family with all generations living under the same roof, we would not be taking care of Mom - - our three granddaughters would be doing that. They would have grown up with their great grandmother – and loved her.
Many of my Vietnamese friends email me, trying to confirm a suspicion they have that the MGB and I will return soon. I must have said something out of line before we left because that is a prevalent thought. However, we simply do not know when we’ll return. We want very much to go back with some work in mind. One idea is to assist older teachers like ourselves. It is harder for old-timers to adjust than twenty-somethings, and we mean to help get used to the very different way of life.
So - - this is retirement, eh? My days seem just as long as ever. But it sure beats going in to the office!