Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Kite

Ten years ago a beautiful soul entered our lives.  He had been buried treasure in an orphanage 8,000 miles away.  He was salve to our broken hearts and has filled our world with his light and life.

We don't celebrate "Gotcha Day" in our family, because for our older kids it was a day filled with too many emotions.  Hope.  Happiness.  But also fear and grief.  And certainly for those at Vu's orphanage, the day was one of somber sadness.  His laugh would no longer echo in the halls, his beautiful voice would no longer cheer those around him, and his nurturing heart would no longer be there for his "babies."  Adoption is filled with both light and darkness.

But there's a story that I don't want to lose, and now is the perfect time to share.


In the days following Vu's adoption he would often repeat the same word again and again.  It was obvious he was asking for something, and sometimes we thought we understood, but our offerings would always end in tears.  We asked our guide and he couldn't understand, but finally the sweet woman in charge of hotel management understood what he was asking for.  A kite!

How to find a kite in a foreign country? Hubby and Lizzy had already gone back to the states, we were in Vietnam for a long THREE weeks.  Kim, Vu, and I headed to the local vendor market with a Vietnamese word on crumpled paper in hand.

I am quite sure we paid 20x the normal price for a kite, but we were desperate.  It wasn't easy to find, but find it we did!  Vu immediately wanted to open it and fly it right then and there in the midst of the crowded market, and of course when I tried to pantomime that we had to wait it reduced him to a tantrum.  There was a park across the street, but I was paranoid about flying the kite there.  That was right after the book The Kite Runner, and I worried it might not even be legal to fly a kite.  I was in a communist country after all, alone with two small children.  I most definitely didn't want to break any laws.

Vu continued to pull and cry and I wracked my brain to come up with a solution.  We frantically returned to the hotel and tried to explain that we wanted to fly the kite.  They seemed confused, but hailed us a taxi and before we knew it we were on a long road outside the city limits.  I was getting nervous as I saw the buildings growing smaller.  Where were we going?  I had no phone, and no way of contacting anyone.  An outsider with two young children at the mercy of the driver with a long pinky nail and questioning eyes.  I asked him more than once where we were going, and he pointed ahead.

Finally, the driver stopped and dropped us off at a deserted sports complex.  Other than the two guards we were outside a bowl of barren cement, completely alone.  But hey, what could go wrong, right?  The Vietnamese are a gentle, loving people.  Vietnam is a safe country.  I crushed my growing sense of fear and assured myself that all was fine.  We were safe.  There were even guards.

And for a little while it did feel carefree and fun.  Vu finally realized his wish, which had materialized in his mind years before after watching a cartoon on TV.  He had a kite.  And he was going to fly it.

Try it he did, in the warmth of Hanoi, with just enough breeze to give a smidge of hope.

While Vu was squealing with rambunctious joy, and Kim was helping him learn kite-flying-basics, I kept my eyes on the guards.  They were pointing and laughing.  Or were they leering?  They definitely seemed to be sharing a private joke.  And there wasn't another soul around.  My brain started reeling with worry.  I looked around at the deserted surroundings and tried to formulate a plan.  I didn't even know where I was.  And it was so remote, I didn't know how I would get another taxi to get back to the hotel.  

It suddenly occurred to me how vulnerable I was.  Realizing that the guards were my only hope, I walked to their station, put on a face of confidence, and asked for a taxi.  They laughed.  I said it again.  They talked together for a bit and had a conversation, laughing.  I went back to help with the kite, then returned, smiled, offered two Vietnamese bills, and finally, one got on his walkie-talkie.  After what felt like forever a beautiful yellow taxi in shining armor arrived at the curb.  My heart sighed with relief as my legs began to tremble.  

It was a long ride back to the hotel and I realized how wrong it could have all turned out.  In retrospect, I don't really believe we were in danger, but I certainly could have been robbed, and it probably wasn't the smartest plan in the world!  

Fast forward ten years, and on the rare occasion we happen to be flying a kite, usually at the coast, I think of Vietnam, and I think of my precious, beautiful, brave, loving, joy-filled son.  What a blessing he is.

We hope to return to Vietnam in the coming year to allow Vu to bring his light once again to those who loved him so fiercely his first six years.   And maybe, just maybe, we will bring a kite.  

Monday, October 23, 2017

Making Memories

As long as we are on the topic of grandkids, I should share more pics of early summer.

I know.  You feel like Grandma just got out her big wallet of photos.  Yes? 

Thank you for indulging me.  So many good times. 

But without exception, whenever I am with my grandchildren, I am reminded of how much our older adoptees missed.  It's a brutal truth they didn't get to be doted on, rocked to sleep, or taken outside to the zoo.  They never fed the ducks, read books on cuddly laps, or rode in strollers to throw sticks off the wooden bridge.  It's raw truth.  And the pain never leaves my heart. 

At the same time, I relish watching those same kids re-live a bit of their missed childhood by sharing life and love with their niece and nephews.  It's never too late to discover the joy of simple, or perhaps not-so-simple, pleasures. 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Grandma Fun!

I spent a week watching Will's and Cookie's beautiful kids.  It's so much fun being a grandma!  I treasured each day, and it brought back so many memories of when my kids were little.  I remember now why I used to be so much skinnier!  It's a joy to relive those days of museums, water play, softball games, field trips, and simply, playing.

And it's a wonderful reminder to never stop playing.  Never stop laughing.  Never stop enjoying the small wonders of our world.

I love you all so much!!!