Pocket Poker

In Fun
Relationship: Child of im/migrant
A stock photo of the pocket poker device
A stock photo of the pocket poker device

 As a child, I fondly recall my mother curled up in bed playing on her pocket poker. My mother loved nothing else than to try her luck at this device that ran on two AA batteries. Twenty-two years prior, my mother was also trying her luck – when she escaped Vietnam on a boat bound for America, leaving behind her feverish two-year-old daughter that she had every intention of bringing to the land of opportunity. 

Gambling is quite commonplace in the Vietnamese culture. It is a celebration of luck and the gratification of winning. Around Lunar New Year, even the kids would wager their New Year’s money to test their luck among their family members. 
My mother was industrious. Once settled in Garden Grove, California she opened her own bakery where she would check on the bread with one hand, while feeding my infant brother with the other. However, her luck would take a turn for the worse when her adoring husband passed away, leaving her to raise two children under the age of three by herself. My mother would test her luck again by becoming an engineer for Panasonic. 

In 1992, my mother finally raised enough money to sponsor my eldest sister, the one that she left behind in Vietnam, to come live with her in America at last. My mother suffered many losses en route to America and while living in America. But she also won many: meeting her husband, raising her family, and becoming financially independent. As industrious as she was, my mother never doubted how lucky she has been. 

Place(s): Garden Grove
Year: 1978

– M

Relationship:  Child of im/migrant Child of im/migrant