Cambodia, Personal, Phnom Penh, Travel

Family Matters. March 12, 2013.

Proud Papa Dan

Proud Papa Dan

I want to give warm congratulations to Dan and Oun Beck for the addition of baby Rosie to their family unit. We visited the maternity care ward this past weekend and it was simply touching. She’s one of the most beautiful babies I’ve ever seen, she managed to avoid the…how do I say this…squished alien look that we all know babies sometimes have when they’re first born but we love them anyway.

That same night good friends Duncan, Ritchie, Allison, and I met at my mother’s house for home grilled Reuben sandwiches and dumpling soup, a favorite pastime as of recently. Evenings at my mom’s house, as I’ve shared before, are more important than I imagined. The sense of community, the semblance of a home in PP, and the knowing support we all receive and give comes out the most during these times. With this group, it’s almost as if we had known each other for years, this may be because of Sheila’s uncanny way of making people feel at home and of utmost interest (even when we know we’re not), regardless of who we are or where they come from. The bountiful comfort food so easily available doesn’t hurt and the ability to speak frankly and freely without the judgment many of my friends feel from their parents makes it an evening with friends, not a parent. It’s shared as a joke, but we all know its quite true, that she has stepped in as “team mom” for many people here whether in my friend circle or not. I am so honored to be able to be part of her life, a fixture in her world that will continue to change continents and habitats and lifestyles. As we fell about the room laughing while playing charades (Fiddle…Gas..throw…fiddlegasthrow…FIDEL CASTRO) and Pictionary, it dawned on me just how grateful I am that I have family here.

Charades

Charades

My younger sister struggles in Cheney, Washington, hours away from any members of our family and a world away from her sister and mother and I feel for her deprivation of immediate family. Friends and acquaintances who live in Phnom Penh get to see their parents once a year during Christmas or Thanksgiving, and even some who do get to visit their families (or friends, friends can be family absolutely!) lack openness and a strong bond,  or their time may be simply filled with empty drinking and hollow conversation. Some friends back at home live with their parents and may never experience what we all do now and it makes me all the more appreciative for it. I hate to say it, but I sometimes wonder how close we would be if my father were still around. I miss him in a way I can’t describe, it’s not painful or bitter, more of a melancholy, the pain of his absence becomes less piercing and I do wish he were here to experience this time with us. I do think, however, that without his death we may not have found our way to Southeast Asia and that the openness and trust I am able to share came from a devastating, broken point in my mother’s life and mine. What I do tend to focus more on these days is trying to piece together what they felt as their courtship began, what their lives consisted of during their time in Southeast Asia and abroad, and how they flourished in a way that I have yet to see in any other union. How did they manage to raise two toddlers (one being very difficult, you decide which) in developing countries? Who were their closest friends amidst it all, did they ever have problems finding real relationships with expats abroad? Why did they decide to leave their travelling ways and settle in Oregon and then again to Washington? What would they look like today, in current culture, as a young married couple? I love these questions. I love that they’re in my mind, that I get to paint a picture, accurate or not, of the two people who decided to adopt a little Vietnamese baby and make her their own. I love that I can imagine my life mirroring theirs in certain aspects and that its almost like I create short films of them in Thailand or Bangkok to fill the gaps that home videos never captured.

Uncle Ritchie and Rosie

Uncle Ritchie and Rosie

I am aware that time will eventually lessen between us all, plans change as do home we experience increased time constraints as I move into more projects and as she chooses her path for the next year or so in her life. I plan on filling the time we do have together in Phnom Penh with many more nights of competitive fun, cozy foods, and real talk. Maybe one of these nights we’ll host a big Game Night at my house to all the people we enjoy and love. Because really, who doesn’t get their kicks watching a grown woman charade out a pig and a Scotsman getting his teammate to guess “Scottish Fold”?

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