Considering how many relatives I have, I feel fortunate to be familiar with my lineage. My dad’s side has a very small family tree and I can only trace it back to my grandparents. However, my maternal grandfather keeps a detailed book of our family tree for traditions and recordkeeping. My grandfather even includes everyone’s birthdate and date of death. I won’t go into that much detail, but here is an attempt at retracing my family tree.
My Dad’s Side
As I mentioned in a previous post, I am a descendant of Vietnamese immigrants. My dad’s side came from Vietnam’s capital, Ho Chi Minh City, or Saigon, and first immigrated to Albequerque, New Mexico. Eventually, they relocated to Fresno, California.
My dad is the eldest of six children. He has two brothers and three sisters. They are all living along the West Coast and have many children who are my cousins. Some of my aunts and uncles are even grandparents.
Then my dad’s parents, or my grandparents, are Scott and Alice. I am not sure what their occupations where, but Grandpa Scott served during the Vietnam War. When they came to America, I remember Grandpa Scott would oftentimes go on fishing trips. Meanwhile, Grandpa Alice was a homemaker and often babysat me and my cousins.
In 2011, Grandpa Scott passed away due to a heart attack. Grandma Alice is still alive and currently lives on her own in Fresno, California. At least once a week, my dad and aunts check up on her and take her to run errands.
My Mom’s Side
My mom’s side immigrated from the central coastal area of Vietnam called Hue. Her family first came to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Just like my dad, her family eventually relocated to Fresno, California. That is where my parents met, as high schoolers. They have been together since then and are one of the very few high school sweethearts I know.
Another similarity my mom has to my dad is being the eldest child. She has two sisters and four brothers. However, one sister and one brother have passed away. And unlike my dad’s side, only one uncle on my mom’s side has kids. All my other aunts and uncles don’t have kids.
As for my maternal grandparents, I have Grandpa Vuong and Grandma Hang. They never adapted American names like my paternal grandparents did. But just like Grandpa Scott, Grandpa Vuong served and assisted the Americans during the Vietnam War. In Vietnam, Grandma Hang was a fisherman.
Upon coming to America, Grandpa Vuong worked as a metal worker while Grandma Hang held various jobs from restaurants and hospitality to baking and babysitting. In their free time, my grandparents baked Vietnamese goods and pastries together. They would take large orders and cater to other Vietnamese community members.
In 2023, Grandma Hang passed away from polycystic kidney disease. Grandpa Vuong is still alive and lives with one of my uncles. He keeps active by tending to his plants, playing on his tablet, and going to temple. His newest hobbies include Chinese checkers and learning acupuncture.
Recap of Retracing My Family Tree
I no longer live in my hometown and am always away from family. But I constantly have to remind myself to check in on my loved ones. Especially my grandparents. You never know when your last moment with them will be. So you should cherish each moment. And keeping a detailed family tree helps carry on those memories and traditions.
How far back in your family tree can you go?
Let me know about your lineage in the comments.