saying goodbyes

Published: February 14, 2006
Updated: February 14, 2006

Last night we walked over to our favourite bia hơi on Vo Van Tan St to have a few beers with Hoang who has been our main xe om (motorbike taxi) driver for the past two years. We sat and drank draught beer and ate a marvelous curry with fresh crispy banh mi (bread) and ordered some bbq’d beef wrapped in green leaf to make into fresh spring rolls from across the street. Later Jaap joined us and I have to admit that I am feeling a bit shabby today as we drank a fair amount and as it turned out we had to get out of bed early this morning.

We had noticed that the grandmother of Hoang’s wife Lan had not been walking up and down the hem lately and had assumed wrongly that she may have still not returned from the country after Tet. However, when we asked Haong he told us that the old lady was in hospital down in District 5 and, despite his assurances that we needn’t bother, we insisted on getting up early and going to visit her.

I have mentioned this old lady in earlier postings on but I will say again that she is such a beautiful old lady and she has always been so open and friendly with us. She is 82 years of age and we did not want to leave Viet Nam without saying goodbye to her, just in case she is not with us in another 6 months.

Fortunately for me, Hoang and his brother in law decided to drive us down to the hospital on their motorbikes which was great as I could quitely suffer and not have to watch where I was going. The old lady is currently in An Binh Hospital in District 5 so we drove down there and traipsed up three flights of stairs of this old and quite historic hospital.

We are both very glad that we made the effort to see her as she is quite alert but not eating and is down to a mere 30 kilograms in body weight. Very tiny and frail indeed. But she was very glad to see us and we let her know that we are leaving on Thursday but will be back in about 6 months and expect to see her then. We hope.

We each sat on the side of her tiny hospital bed and held her hand and although we have never been able to talk directly, as she has no English and we have little Vietnamese, she knew that we cared enough to take time to visit her and we shed a few tears together. We both kissed her on the cheek as we said goodbye and she in turn nuzzled us with her nose and sniffed our scent.

Hopefully this charming old lady who must have seen so much change in this country within her lifetime will still be with us when we return.

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