This month my husband and I will be celebrating our 12th year of marriage. Instead of talking about the ups and downs of our marriage, I’m going to share the memories of my mom on how she played a part of my marriage.
If you read my very first post, Introduction, it talked about how my husband and I got married.
After a couple of hours of driving I started to think about how to break the news to my family that I was leaving with my husband. I was so afraid that I decided to ignore my family and waited until they called me. Around 8pm my mom called me but I didn’t pick up. Instead, I handed the phone over to my husband to tell my mom what we decided to do. My mom had asked to speak to me and when I took the phone, I didn’t say a word because I was afraid I would change my mind and ask to go home.
Mom: Did Vong force you? If he did I can call the cops right now.
Mom: Okay, as long as he didn’t force you then I am okay with you going. I know he will love you.
I quickly gave the phone back to my husband and he finished the phone call.
After that my nerves had calmed down because I didn’t get yelled at and my mom didn’t tell me I did something wrong (I am more afraid of my mom.) I still felt guilty for leaving my family behind and thought about my mom’s health. Because of my mom’s health, she was always in bed or taking medication. I told myself that I should have stayed a little longer to make sure she was okay before I made this decision.
On the day of my wedding, my mom tried her hardest to keep up with the day but you could tell that she was not doing well. Her health continued to decline through that year. The next summer my mom’s sister went to take care of her and on July 25, 2010 she passed away.
Once again I asked myself why didn’t I stay longer. If I had stayed maybe she would have lived a bit longer life. After mourning for months, I shared my thoughts with my sister. She told me that I was lucky to have gotten married before our mom passed away. You see, in the Hmong culture, we still follow the dowry ways. People could have taken advantage of my wedding ceremony. For example, my dad could have asked for a higher dowry amount for whatever reason. This could have caused me to be watched by my husband’s side more closely to see if I will live a worthy high dowry life.
Dowry is important because it plays a major part of the present and future of a Hmong marriage. It is a “contract” for both parties that if in the future the wife decides to leave her husband, she would have to come up with the same amount of dowry that was asked during her wedding. She would have to give it back to the husband. If the husband was to leave his wife, he wouldn’t get that dowry back, instead he would have to personally send his wife back to her parents along with more money to take care of her future needs.
Because of all the things that my mom prevented for me in my future, it makes my 12th year of marriage a little harder to celebrate. I am so grateful to have been born to her.
It doesn’t matter if people don’t think you are good, as long as you know you are good. -Ban Sai Thong (2000)Mom’s favorite movie quote