I lost another sister today, Phuong Tang. Here is her story as far as I know it…
Phuong (pronounced like Foam), her husband, Duc, and their two children, Lom and Mai, had been boat people after the Vietnam war. My mother and stepfather belonged to a church that sponsored them to come to Portland, but it was really Mom and Cal that became family to them. I was, I think, in college when the family came to Portland and I remember we had a Christmas celebration with them at Mom’s house. Mai was so traumatized that she didn’t smile for months after they arrived.
Phuong had another son and wanted to give him an American name, so she named him Anderson. At some point, she and her husband got divorced. Phuong was very industrious and hard-working. At one point, I remember she was sewing things for cats. Then she started working at a gun company, possibly working on gun scopes. She retired from that job after a full career there.
She lived with her children even after they grew up, and they took very good care of her. Phuong had always called Mom and Cal “Mom” and “Dad”. She was also very good to my mother. Phuong lived in Clackamas County and Mom lives in Washington County, so as they got older, they didn’t get to see each other as often, but they remembered each others’ birthdays and holidays, and most notably, Phuong always remembered Mom on Mother’s Day.
Phuong got lung cancer and when Mom spoke with her by phone in September, she told Mom that she was off the chemo. There was no indication that her cancer wasn’t cured. This morning, Mai called Mom and told her that Phuong was on hospice and had asked her to “call Grandma”. Phuong couldn’t speak, but Mai put the phone on speakerphone and Mom talked to her while Mai held the phone up for her. This afternoon, Mai called back to say that her mother had passed. She was crying.
I called Mai back a few minutes later and she said that it had all happened so suddenly, she didn’t know what to do. One of her brothers had already made arrangements with the funeral home. They will keep Phuong’s body in the house overnight and then let her be taken away. I told Mai that I have a sense of what it’s like for her because of losing Sherill and I asked her if she needed anything? I told her that if she needs pallbearers, Mark would be able to be one. I don’t know what a Vietnamese funeral is like. I don’t know if they use pallbearers, but I couldn’t think of anything else to offer at the time. If anyone has experience with a Christian Vietnamese funeral, please explain to me what Mom and I need to know. Thanks!