Tet, the Lunar New Year is upon us. Throughout Asia, people celebrate by remembering their ancestors, brightening up their houses, visiting friends, and partying. It's a ten day affair of good times much like a combination of our Christmas, New Years, and Memorial Day all rolled into one. The streets are filled with flower vendors and music. This is The Year of The Tiger.
Outside, a young man burns offerings to his ancestors. Money, shoes, suits of clothing both modern and traditional, all made of tissue paper, are completely consumed so that they my enter the spirit world to be joined with the loved ones who have gone before.
Inside, the old woman sits before the family shrine with incense and prayers to her husband and children who have passed. She is ninety-six years old and has traveled 600 miles from Saigon to visit her family house where she raised a family of ten children and twelve other family members during a time of war. Her hands and her frail body are records of the hardships but her eyes tell a story of love. I wish I could speak with her and hear her stories.
Five of her daughters have come to celebrate the new year with her. Together, they prepare a feast before traveling to the countryside to visit the family tombs. The road through the cemetery is dirt and full of rocks, making it difficult to push the wheelchair but the mother does not complain. It may be the last time she is able to make this journey. Thankfully, a man with a motorbike offers to ride her back to the car.