…pog koob gave birth to my grandfather who married my pog (grandmother) who gave birth to my father who then married my mommy who gave birth to me.
if it wasn’t for this string of events, there would be no me. she is the eldest living person to stand in the family family tree. she has seen her own children and some of their children die by the hands of war and have lived to see change beyond her mind could have ever imagine. i believe is to be about 112 or somewhere in her hundreds but i could be wrong, the elders do not know for sure, the youngers just do not know, and she can only tell that she was born in the harvest season because back in that time, time wasn’t a big matter. as long as there was enough to harvest that year, her parents were happy… and they were most happy of course that the harvest season also brought them a child. the old way of life was simple, that’s why the call the war “the time when the world exploded” (lub sij hawm ua teb chaws tawg).
pog koob was always full of live and always willing to lend a hand even though she wasn’t needed. i remember as a child that she would come and offer to help out on the preparations of many things like the food, helping clean, watching us children, and more – even though she didn’t need to. i remember eating her sweet ncuav (rice patties) made from sticky rice. i remember her sweet smile as she would tell us stories of her days. i do not remember the stories. i was too young for one and careless of the world aside from myself for two.
she was perhaps in her 90′s as we continually visited through out the later years of my life when my family had relocated to new york, and later colorado. my grandfather’s brothers still live in california with pog koob, and we made it back often to see them for the Hmong new year celebrations. i remember even in her 90′s, like i said, she would wake up early in the morning and cook us breakfast. she was a healthy little old lady.
upon visiting her, she would smile and greet all of us great grand children by name. she was never forgetful. ‘mis ntsuab, koj tuaj los. ohh, ua cas koj loj zoo nkauj ua luaj li lawm os..’ she would say, and of course say the same thing to my sisters and so on. i remember one time i was in rush to head out to the new year and she insisted i stayed for breakfast and eat some of her ncuav. i am guilty because i threw half of one away because i was in such a hurry. i regret not finishing it now.
when she’d heard news that my husband and i were getting married she flew all the way out to colorado for the tshoob even though she didn’t have the strength. i took a couple of pictures with her then but those were all lost in the hard drive crash of 2008. i know… what a horrible fate. it’s ok, the memory is all that matter. i remember that pog ntxawg and pog koob were on thier way to the house when i was still getting ready at one of ber’s cousin’s house and they insisted to stop by because they knew they wouldn’t see me until later. so i met them outside in the car… pale old pog koob, just smiling to see me dressed up in my hmong cloths and as a beautiful naim tsev to be. i gave her a big hug and she patted me on the back and said “kuv zoo siab heev rau koj os mi ntsuab. koj mus ua tau neej zoo lawm ces kuv zoo siab heev.”
i don’t want to say it but.. i think i may have been her favorite (ahaha). i know there are the other great grand kids that live in cali with her and the grand kids too who she may spend more time with through the last years but i know that she never forgets me and her gesture for showing up to my tshoob is more than any great grand child can ask for. it was a joke that i use to say to her during our visits to california as a teenager. i would talk to pog koob and say “koj mus tsis tau qhov twg nawb… nco tsoom tias koj tseem tau tuaj saib kuv thaum kuv yuav txim nawb..” and she would reply “kuv yeev tsis mus os, tos kom koj mus ua tau neej lawm tso mas..” and smile. she did. she lived up to her promise of coming to my tshoob.
one time during our visits to cali, my little niece had come along with my brother and sisternlaw as well and we took perhaps one of the most amazing pictures. i just have to find it some where but it was a picture of my pog koob, my pog (my father’s mother who now has returned to laos), my mother, my sisters, my sisternlaw, and her daughter. it wasn’t professionally done or anything, just a family point and shoot (film.. so if i can’t find the photo, will just have to find the film… so thankgoodness it didn’t get lost in the hard drive crash). but it was still just so amazing to have 5 generations under one roof.
pog koob blessed a couple of sisceebs (the strip ribbons that go around the black turbans that hmong women wear) for all her grand daughters and great grand daughters a couple of years back and said that it would bring us good luck and fortune and for us to hold on to them. every time i stumbble upon it in my “big box of sweet memoirs” i always think of her. reminds me of my mommy’s mom. she left us in 2006 and for good luck a golden dollar was blessed at her funeral for us to keep too. everytime i run across it, i think of her too. i’ve been beginning to think that i should get a bigger fire safety box so that i can throw some of the more precious things like that in it instead of that old shoe box. hehe.
[deep sigh] i’ve just been worried about pog koob since i heard the news that she got a stroke and is left with her whole left side paralyzed and is now laying in the hospital. i can’t help but wonder what will happen next and i don’t want her to go but i know that that decision is not mine. i just keep praying that she is well and that perhaps ber and i could still go visit. my father just visited this past weekend and called me yesterday to let me know that she’s doing better than when it first happened but is not at all well. please keep her in your thoughts and prayers.
this is my memoir of the happy days with pog koob. the only picture i could find tonight (not that much searching effort and i know i do have more) that i posted with this post is of pog koob when i was seven. we took this photo with a series of other photos to keep as a memory because that was when my family left california to head to new york. she is a strong woman. good night and good thoughts. kuv hlub koj os pog koob.