Monday, December 9, 2013

My Grandpa, The Untold Stories, Never to Be Told

My grandpa, the same man that I spoke of in my last post left us on November 2nd.  I have been missing from pretty much all of my social network sites and have been taking time to recover.  I have been missing for about a month, not that anyone has really realized it, but I feel that I should explain what is going on in my life so when I come back in years, I can see that I have documented it to some extent.

My grandpa's funeral was very busy, a lot of cooking and cleaning.  There was a lot of people who came to show their respects and cried, many of whom I have never met before.  It was so nice to see all these Hmong veterans that walked the land with my grandpa, those whom fought next to him.

They called my grandpa a captain, he received an American flag which was laid on top of his coffin.  It was beautiful.  They played the trumpet and saluted him.  My mom saluted him as well, I felt like she was so hurt, so crushed that she wasn't there for his last breath, she blamed herself for everything.  I didn't understand why, she is the only person that was there for him for everything. 

I was in charge of his slideshow.  It was difficult to find pictures of him.  It was more of a slideshow showing his children and grandchildren, but then again it wasn't even of everyone.  I was restricted, leaving out his children and grandchildren whom still live in Laos and Thailand in case of any danger.  It was a beautiful slideshow, I had my grandma say some words in the beginning and at the end.  I found songs and had my older sister help me seek more songs to add to the slideshow.  The pictures that I found of my grandpa were of him when he was still able to walk and talk, he was so lively and when I say lively, I mean stubborn lol.  It was about 23 minutes long, which wasn't long enough for my grandma.  

I learned and realized so many things about my grandpa at his funeral.  He was a captain, he was a prisoner for two years in which he was tortured.  He was respected to not only the soldiers but to our people.  He risked his life for Americans and our own people. 

I wish that I saw his significance beforehand.  I knew he was my grandpa, that he told great stories, that he was a soldier in the war, but I didn't know the details or his reasons.  I knew a lot of his bad, but I did not know much of his good. 

All the stories that he never told us will never be told because he is no more.  I am so heartbroken because I didn't care enough to ask when he was able to speak.  I never cared to listen when I had the chance.  I kick myself as so many of my family and relatives do, but then I realize that he is in a better place because he is no longer in pain.  He has suffered for so long, now he can rest. 

I was there for him when he needed me, translating him, feeding him, and visiting him whether there were others or not.  I did as much as I could at the time.  Life is so busy. 

I miss him so much.

RIP Grandpa. May God be with you!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

My Grandpa, A Vietnam Veteran

My grandpa's name is Blia.  I am sitting at the hospital with him, in his bed.  He's having hallucinations and seeing people whom have been dead for years.  He's seeing his relatives that he misses and he's talking to them in his sleep.  I want to wake him up to reality but at the same time I'm sure he's enjoying the fact that he is getting visitors.

I've been coming to the hospital this whole week after work.  I pick up my grandma so she can visit him.  She can take care of him so all I've been doing is translating and making sure he gets what he needs.  Today she was unavailable to come because she is feeling sick herself.  I'm sure laying in bed all day can get very tiring for him, so I decided to come and stay for a while.

Yesterday my grandpa asked my grandma "who brought those bananas?"  and she replied saying that there are none, because there really were no fruits.  He's on a strict diet, only eating things that are pureed, things that are as soft as mashed potatoes and drinking things that are thickened.

I fed him dinner, he ate everything on his plate, the only thing he didn't finish was this dairy drink which is pretty much like ice cream but thickened and in a juice-like form.  If he coughs and chokes on food it can get stuck in his lungs and he can get pneumonia. 

He is a very respected man, many relatives know who he is and know of his story.  He visited the white house and Clinton when he was still president.  He was running from the government for years in Laos and finally was able to come to the US.  He earned his place here in the states, he's been living here for years, maybe 10, give or take.

I've always wanted to know his story and now I feel like I can't get the whole picture.  He's been sick for years now and he at times doesn't remember who you are.  I had asked him earlier if he remembered who I am because he asked me if I was staying at my moms or at a relatives and I said my moms (I live there), he did remember who I am though, which is a good sign.

He's been doing a lot better than the first couple of days, eating all his meals, and remembering things that are going on.

He is a storyteller, he used to tell us stories when we were younger.  His stories were from fiction to non-fiction.  They were inspirational and motivational.  They consisted of his experiences and of stories that he had heard elsewhere.  Most of the stories growing up that I have heard are stories that were told from generation to generation.  I hope that I can remember them when I have children.

My grandpa isn't a Christian, but we pray for him a lot!  I hope, like last summer, he will get better!  

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

My Parents

I was reading a blog and I really liked it.  There was a gentleman about the age of 49 years old.  He writes well and his style of writing sounds like a story all the time.  He doesn't ramble like I do or make everything sound or seem boring, his flow of words just catches a lot peoples' attention.  He had several posts that made me think about my parents:

1. He likes to reflect on his life and write it on his blog to share it with the world, whether someone reads it or not.  I wish my parents were able to do that, but they don't read or write in English much.  Do it in Hmong you may ask?  Well, not all Hmong know how to read and write in Romanized Popular Alphabet (Hmong writing).  So even if my parents wanted to write a blog, they wouldn't be able to. All of their stories that no one knows about would be lost forever.  All of these great stories of hardships and all of their joyous times from their first step in the US to swimming in the Mekong River.  These stories will never be told and I am so sad that they can't express themselves in a way that best suits them.  I sure can ask about it, but what if they don't want to tell me or what if it just takes too much time to tell me.  I want them to express it in a way that they want to do it, it's willingly done, like a blog post.

2.  He spoke of his feelings.  Something that my parents rarely do.  I may be generalizing, but a lot of Hmong don't speak of their feelings, don't show their feelings, and don't express it at all.  My dad is one of them, he rarely will show is feelings.  When he does, we all are very grateful.  He has opened up more now than ever, but if we don't ask he will never tell.  I want him to be able to express his feelings on paper, or in some kind of documentation.

3. He speaks of what he thinks about himself.  A person likes to reflect on themself and I would love to read or listen to what my parents think about themself.  Whether they think that they did all that they could or that they could do better.  Reflection helps build a person.

4.  He speaks of what he is worried about and how his day went.  I would like to know, hear, read what my parents are worried about without intruding by asking questions all the time.  What is my mom worried about today and what is her daily routine?  I live with my parents, but we don't always talk.  I get home from work and am too tired to socialize with them or to listen to them tell me what I need to do around the house.  When I am at ease, I would like to read/listen to what is going on in their lives and that's about the time that they are too busy.

I really need to find a way to have my parents express themselves.  I think I'm going to have them record themselves on my laptop and have them share their stories, anything they want to talk about.  Have them sit in a room all by themselves so that we aren't influencing what they say or how they feel.  I will start this project this week!

It should be simple enough.  I will set up the laptop and tell them to speak about their lives, anything in the world they want to talk about for about half an hour.  I'll leave them in the room by themselves to share.  After about half an hour, I'll come back and then stop the camera, unless they're not done yet.  I'll do this for about a month, put this into a video and send it to my siblings! 

Thanks blog!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Communication Barrier

Lately it has been more difficult to understand my parents and vice versa.  The world in America is much different than the one they are used to.  I was born here so I can't really compare. 

The opportunities here are things that my parents can't even imagine are possible, they lack knowledge of resources and the possibilities.  If they aren't exposed to them, how would they know?

Living in the states for over 30 years, my parents still have a difficult time understanding English.  I kick myself when I get frustrated with them.  It doesn't make any sense to act that way towards them, yet I do it and am guilty every time. 

Even with me knowing how to speak my native tongue, I am still unable to communicate with my parents in the level that I want.  I am someone who has always expressed myself to them but it's a lack of understanding.  If I had the patience it wouldn't be this way. 

I blame this life style, I really do.  Call it ignorance, call me ignorant.

The things I learn in school I don't take home to teach my parents, why??  It's because here in the states the parents teach you!!  But my parents don't know what your parent's know.  Besides that lame answer, it's because I'm not putting the effort into it.  I lack patience and motivation to let my parents know and understand the possibilities in this country, unlike anything they could have imagined back in their home country.

It was a month ago that my mother learned that caterpillars turned into butterflies.  I was shocked!  How could this be?  Everyone knew that!! NO, NOT MY MOM! And there's nothing wrong with that.  She didn't go to school to learn this or see documentaries on butterflies or even see pictures and stickers of caterpillars and butterflies.

The other day I was telling her to not burn plastic because it ruins the ozone layer.  She never knew that before.  And there was nothing wrong with that either.  I was patient enough to explain it to her and why the weather has been so strange lately.  She was very interested!! She stated that she never knew that and now that she does, she won't be burning anymore plastic!!

The opportunities that I have been exposed to are endless.  I want to leave and I want to travel.  When I try to explain this, it's not understood.  This is where my challenge comes in.  I am unable to expose them of these opportunities so I am therefore prohibited to them. 

How can I communicate to them in a way that won't make them upset and understand what I'm trying to do for my success?

It's easier said than done.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

History Repeating Itself

I was talking to my dad while cleaning vegetables in our front yard when I asked him if he missed his country.  When I asked that, I realized what I asked and corrected myself, "Dad, do you miss the country you were born in?" (which happens to be Laos).  He answered with a big, "yes, I do!"

I started asking him other questions about war, why our people live in the mountains, and his view on things.

He went on and spoke about the Vietnam war and how the CIA asked for help and hired Hmong to help fight in the war.  I wanted to ask him if he thought that history was repeating itself.  I asked him, "Dad, do you think that history is repeating itself because the President asked the people in Iraq to help fight the war and now their people are dieing and Americans are pulling out without being able to help those people that once helped them.  Those people are dieing and going to be killed for a very long time just like our people."  He said yes, he thinks so too.

How can we let history repeat itself?  How did we not see this?  Others are suffering for our selfish reasons.  A whole race of humans may be destroyed and we can't do much about it.  We got them into this mess, we need to get them out of it.  That's how I feel about my people and about the Iraqies/Afghanistan people. 

My dad was talking about how the Laotions hate us, then how the Thai hate us, and how Americans hate us.  I wonder who actually loves us as a race and a people.  I know the Chinese also hate us, we were kicked out of our land and homes and made into slaves by the Chinese.  When will our people see the light in peace? 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Hmong Leaders

I have come to realize that a leader isn't someone who is rich and famous but someone who has inspired others to do great and better things.  In your eyes I may even be a leader, but in my own eyes I am far from it.  I still have yet to accomplish a lot and to do better things.

There are so many personal projects that I have (mingling in my head that need to be written down before I forget them) to accomplish.  All of which I plan to do as soon as I graduate from college this May or shall I say August, but for sure I'll be starting as soon as summer hits!

Hmong leaders have been inspiring me to do so much more in my life, to be better, and let our Hmong people's voices be heard.

I was so inspired by Ka Vang, the poet and writer.  She has so much to say, I could listen to her forever!!  She said some amazing things to me that I hope I always keep in my heart!!  She said something like,

The Hmong people are so strong, they have traveled from country to country being warriors and fighting for our rights, they have fought in battles that they have won and are still who they are to this day.  No matter how many people want to dispose of us we are still around, we are still standing strong!

Now that may not be exactly what she said, but that was the main point and I was so inspired.  Did you realize that?  All those people trying to kill us and we are still alive!  Think about it.  Another thing that another Hmong leader (Kang Vang who has directed movies such as Tou and Mai) said was that General Vang Pao wrote in a journal that when he spoke to the CIA and said yes in helping the Americans with the Vietnam War he wasn't thinking about guns and killing, he was thinking about a future for our children, he was thinking about making sure that our children have shoes on their feet.  Without him taking that chance we would have never come to the states.  People may hate General Vang Pao but they must realize that we would never have stepped one foot on American land if it weren't for him.  With all our people dying in Laos and Thailand there are few that survived.

Being Hmong and living in American I am very grateful of all the things that I have and all the things that I have learned.  I definitely owe it to my people to do something with my life.  I would love to be a Hmong leader some day and inspire others to pass the message onto others to educate them about our people.

When I was in NZ I wanted to educate as many kiwis as possible, as many people that I met.  I wanted everyone to know about Hmong and what struggles we have been through.  One Hmong person in a country that knew nothing about Hmong people, I wanted to see how far I could get my message to.  I didn't get very far at all, sadly.  I cried, I wept, and I came home and told some people. 

I went to a funeral this past weekend for my first cousin.  There was a man who I saw talking to my mom, who was pointing at me and my sisters.  Later that man came to us and asked me if I was Jenny, I said yes and he proceeded to tell my sisters and I about what my mom told him.  He said that he heard I cried because I was in a world that didn't know about Hmong people, that I felt left out and alone.  I said yes that was me.  He proceeded to tell us about this new religion that has come up recently and that he is one of the pastors.  It's a religion that is kind of difficult to explain, it's called Poj Koob Yawm Ntxwv.  This religion is mainly based on beliefs and practices that state that men and women are equal.  There are 16 principles to follow in order to have a successful marriage.  There was a lot of things that he talked about to us, he was trying to reach out to us in hopes that we will come to learn more.  I was very intrigued but I don't live in that city so I won't be able to attend.  

There are Hmong leaders everywhere, my parents are Hmong leaders.  They inspire me on a daily basis.  I want their stories to be heard as well.  That is why this summer I hope to accomplish one of my many projects in documenting what they have to say, their life story, and quoting their many wise words!

Be a Hmong leader and step up, you owe it to our people, to your people even if you're not Hmong. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


I am so inspired by all the talented Hmong people I see on YouTube!

These talents need to be seen! I'll link some awesome videos below if you haven't already seen them!

People need to be heard and seen! Life is on high right now for me!

I am Hmongspired!! :D

Take a chance and make a difference. Inspire someone! Do something for someone else! Get out there and shout in the sky! Make your voice be heard to the non-ending sky!

Some things that inspired me today to write this!