My mum by Viet Van Tran

To me, my mum, 88 years old, is a mirror of her will to rise up in the life and overcome disease. I want to record some moments forever, not only in my mind and heart, but also in a tangible shape.
My mother's eyes at 20 years old and at 87 years old

To me, my mum, 88 years old, is a mirror of her will to rise up in the life and overcome disease. I want to record some moments forever, not only in my mind and heart, but also in a tangible shape.

I also chose objects that represent both her life now and objects and images drawn from the past. The object was not only seen in terms of its use value as a utility product, but also as cultural value, aesthetic value and sometimes imprints of history. 

My mother’s eyes at 20 years old and at 87 years old

My mum is a carrying wife, dedicated mother, and a woman with strong will and mind. She learned herself, become a successful literature researcher and critic. My family was enjoying a peaceful life, until one day in late 2012 when my father was getting sick. During his illness, my mum took care of him every day, at the hospital or at home. She has never complained a word, even thought she was exhausted by taking care of him.

Since my father passed away, my mum got pain with the osteoporosis and spine osteoarthritis (symptoms). She could not move so all personal activities such as eating, hygiene were carried out in bed. We had tried all possibilities to cure her such as: injections, acupuncture, applying herbal medicine to her back… Over time she was getting better, and was able to walk and handle things by herself.

But then my mum got breast cancer. She decided not to go for surgery, but has been taking medicine, praying daily and doing exercise. She is optimistic, not to mention her cancer to anyone. She still tries to go to the market, buy flowers and makeup to beautify herself.

My mum and I have inherent contradictions and many of our conceptions of life are different. But when I photographed her objects, our relationship become more intimate.

This is a personal story but I hope it will reach a certain number of viewers because everyone has a mother such as memory, loss, loneliness and love are always experiences that everyone has had at least once in their lives. 

My project “My mum” was started from February, 2016 and it is on-going.  The last thing I want to say is I feel happy when see my mum “healthy” every morning.

The time my mother had to lie in bed could not walk (February 2016). I remember her haunted sad eyes

To cure her illness, my mum takes medicine regularly, recites Sutras and prays Buddha every day. My mum was not a Buddhist, but she believed Buddha and Buddhism gives her peace of mind.

In the evenings, my mum was exposed by infrared light to reduce the pain. I payed attention to the black shadow on the wall, the metaphoric potential of the red light, of her expression…

My mum like brushing her hair in early morning. Although my mum is 88 years old, she still maintains the lifestyle of a lady based on Hanoi: elegant and sophisticated.

My parents’ wedding cards from 1965 and the letters my dad wrote to my mum during the war years. My mother’s wedding dress in 1965 was the Ao Dai – the traditional dress of Vietnamese women. She still keeps them to this day.

My mum is a good cook. This is my dad’s favorite food, especially fish.

Once my mum said that if she had a future life she would still marry my dad. The couple have been holding hands together for 50 years. He passed away at the age of 88 when she was 81 years old. It was still a strong shock to her.
She not only lost a husband but lost a soul mate. To her, his image is always present in the house, in objects and especially in her nostalgia.

My mum went abroad twice. The first trip abroad was to Russia in 1985, the most impressive was the terrible cold snow. The second overseas trip was to China (Shanghai, Beijing) in 2006. My mother was most impressed by the high-rise buildings in Shanghai and the modern transportation system here.

My mum has two sons – my big brother and myself. She has managed to raise her kids successfully, despite huge difficulties during the Vietnam war-time.

My mother used to wait for me at the door when I return home from a business trip.

My mother always buys flowers to put on the altar on the first and fifteenth day of every lunar month.

My mother has fallen several times and each time she has won over herself.

My mother felt very comfortable in the old house, even though we once intended to move, but after thinking about it, she stopped.

My family likes to take selfies on the first day of Tet. Happy New Year 2022.

The shoes which my mum wears most at ceremonies. She has been wearing it for many years even though it is very old now. My mum’s shoes symbolize a journey of striving to fulfill her dream.

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