Saigon Lady taught me about Life and Buddhism tonight.
Saw the cashier at the Conshohocken, PA, Target store, and called her by the only name I’ve known her, “Saigon Lady.” I have never seen someone shed the years from her face as this small Vietnamese woman did in a matter of seconds, changing from a 40-something working class woman to the cutest kid you ever had the luck to spend time with on a playground.
She became animated and full of smiles after I approached her check out counter around 9:30 Thursday night, a full 90 minutes before she could call it quits and go home to her family in Philadelphia.
“It’s you,” she said, her entire demeanor lighting up, recalling our chat shortly after Christmas and our brief exchange about Buddhism. “I looked for you, but haven’t seen you.”
“I looked for you too,” I said, feeling like a kid myself. This woman, who left Vietnam for the United States years ago, has helped me to forgive myself, forgive my part in a senseless war in her country, which is now a trading partner with the US and Europe. It will be many more years before parts of their land will be habitable again, but the people are making progress.
And I found a friend whose words of wisdom rivaled those of the most learned Holy Men or Woman I have ever met.
“In Vietnam, there is only one Buddha,” she said.
I nodded, bowed and clasped my hands together in a show of respect. She returned my smile and beamed more brightly than I had seen her shine earlier.
There is only one Buddha. She is so right. And he resides in each and every one of us . . .
Thank you for such enlightenment, my Saigon Lady. I’ll pay it forward.