For Vietnamese worldwide, it's a song of a mother's love "boundless like the overflowing Pacific Ocean," cresting wherever her children are.
Just like Americans celebrating Mother's Day, I hold my mother -- Anh-Nguyet Nguyen -- in high esteem. It's not just because her bravery 35 years ago in 1975 was responsible for us escaping war-torn Vietnam for a better life in America.
And it's not because she sacrificed everything after my father died in 1986 so all three of her children could be college-educated.
And it's not because she taught her children the value of hard work, persistence and treating others with respect and kindness.
It's simply because she is my mother.
So to all the wonderful moms out there, Happy Mother's Day! And to my own Mom: "Con thuong ma" or I love you, Mom.
My favorite rendition of the song is from Dalena Morton, a woman from Florida who isn't Vietnamese and doesn't even speak Vietnamese. I've also included the English lyrics of the famous song by the prolific composer Y Van.
English version of Mother's Love
Mother's love is boundless like the overflowing Pacific Ocean.
Mother's love is ceaseless like a gentle and sweet stream.
Mother's words is soft as an whispering rice field.
The lullaby (outside veranda), the declining-moon's shades, mother.
Mother's love for me is like the autumn moon.
Mother's love is like a breath of air playing on lake's surface.
Her vague lullaby is soft as a cadenced kite's flute,
Loving us, she spent many restless nights,
we had tight sleep, how happy our mum was.
Loving us, many days and many nights,
taking pains and troubles, she nursed us til grown-up age.
Through ups and downs, our thin mother doesn't mind.
All life's hardships make her sad head hoary.
All days and nights, she's glad for us wholeheartly.
Her sweet lullabies echo through years, interminably.
Mother's love rises high, moon and mountains listen silently.
Her lullabies agitate mountains, streams, bamboo rows.
Pacific waves are quiescent when hearing her lullabies.
With all her heart, mum comforted us through childhood.
A great affection is soft as music and singing.
All day long, she admonishes us with ardent words,
engraved on our hearts through thousand of miles away.
Loving us, mum sang pleasant words.
Many years, her tears flowed down like streams,
flowing in our hearts, her hair was already gray.
Whoever is on the road to somewhere far away,
despite all hardships through the whirligig of time,
though sunlights go dim but love will never fade,
always expect to be back under mother's shade.