Tuesday, September 30, 2008

This and that

Not much new to report. I worked out tonight for the first time in probably 2-3 months. Felt it too. I was so good for the first part of the year. Then we went on vacation and summer hit and I really slacked off.

We went and bought a blood pressure device and apparently my readings are a little high. The doctor said it's not terribly serious, but for my age, it could come down just a tiny bit. Exercise and eating habits are what needs changing the most, so exercise begins again.

I have a show booked for the Lunds for 10/17. I expect to see you all there. It's a Friday and it's at the Sunset. Trouble is, I can't seem to get any other bands to play it. Luckily it's not because they don't want to, it's that a bunch of band members are going out of town or playing other shows. I've asked the about 5 bands and they've all said no. So I have 2 feelers out to bands we've never played with and am anxiously awaiting their responses.

It's also been a long time since I rock and rolled. I played with the Lunds last Monday. Scheme practice was canceled last Thursday. Sean called of LB practice last night. I should have Scheme practice this Thursday. LB is off next Monday. Sheesh. I just want to play bass!

Haley has been hit and miss since Sunday's post. She's been good and she's been horrible. It's been frustrating and I'm trying so hard to be patient with her. It's tough.

She has been rockin' the Rock Band mic, though. That's been fun to do. In fact, both Haley and Rye love to play Rock Band with me. Heck, even Marci did when the family was over. I'll have to get my little family to join in one of these days.

What else, what else?

I guess that's it for now. Still obsessed with this little BlackBerry thing. It's got a steep learning curve, but dang, it's cool. iPhone what???

Off to bed now. Goodnight.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Smartphone

I was the lucky recipient of a BlackBerry Pearl 8120 smartphone today. My friend Julie's husband Rick had one for about 6 months and... he hated it. Evidently it was too much phone for him.

Coincidentally, my Palm bit the dust last week. I bought a battery for it and screwed up the install. Also coincidentally, that Palm was given to me by Julie.

Today Jules came in to help out a bit at work and gave me this BlackBerry. She didn't want anything in return, and, since I've been wanting to upgrade phones for some time but couldn't until April, I graciously accepted it.

Since then, I've been learning how to use this thing. It's got a steep learning curve, but I can already see how I'll be using it.

It's no iPhone, but for FREE, I'm not going to complain. Plus, the iPhone didn't float my boat when I messed with it last week. This BB? It's all me!

Thanks Julie!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

I am going to blow a gasket

Here is a conversation I have with Haley on a daily basis.

Haley: "I'm tired."
Gwon: "Go to bed."
H: "I can't."
G: "Why not?"
H: "I don't want to."

Right now, it's 9:00pm. We put her to bed at 7:15. She was up at 8 and didn't rest. She is fall down exhausted right now and is refusing to go to sleep. I have taken away her radio and her night light; she was complaining that her room was too loud and too bright. Now she's complaining that it's too dark and that she can't sleep without music.

She is beside herself. She's sobbing and exhausted. She had a GREAT day today. Much better than yesterday where she was in trouble for being rude and mean. Today, she listened, played well and was the good ol' Haley we all know and love.

I understand she's only 6. I understand she's tired. But we've told her EVERY DAY that being tired, hungry or otherwise is no excuse for being rude and demanding.

I'm afraid that we're going to give her a complex as she gets older that she can't say anything to us or be herself around us. We have no idea where she gets this kind of behavior from. Marci and I have fought in front of the kids, but this lack of respect or ability to mind her parents is infuriating.

It's not so much that she's "bad", per se, but it's more the fact that she doesn't get that Marci and I are the parents and she is the child. Every day she is demanding us to do something for her. We tell her that it's not ok to talk like that and she gets that, but there is a disconnect somewhere. It's like she doesn't think before she speaks or does something.

I get so frustrated because I went through this with Riley. I fought and fought with him and, one day, something clicked with him and now he and I are all good. Haley and I are good half the time; the other half, it's fighting and me saying stuff that I hate myself for saying.

She's locked in her room now, sobbing for us and unable to sleep. Now it's probably out of anger and sadness, more than insomnia. Before, it was her not closing her eyes because she "couldn't". It's stuff like that that drives me crazy.

I just have to remind myself that she's only 6 and I have 30 years on her. I should be able to control my temper and be patient with her, but damn it can be tough.

Knock on wood, she seems to be quieting down. I was just about to go extend an olive branch, but if she's asleep finally, I'll leave her be until later.

Marci met with Haley's school counselor about grief/transitions, and the counselor gave us a bunch of things to read about it. One thing the material mentioned was a possible regression in behavior. Maybe this is that? Who knows.

Hopefully the next time I blog about Haley it's regarding something fun, like the fact that she loves to sing when Riley and I play Rock Band. Who knew?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Making progress

Since Dad died, we've been spending a lot of time with Mom. As the days have passed, we're still going up to the house, but not as much. It helps that my brother and his family are staying with her, but they leave for Ireland on Sunday morning.

Mom has been pretty dang incredible. She's been by herself for parts of the days recently and she's been fine with it. Night time has been different, though. She's had Yumei stay up there with her when Dung and the family are unable to.

Tonight Dung, Ruby and the kids went to Ruby's mom's house for some facetime, leaving Mom alone at home. Dung and I arranged for me to go up there to keep her company until I had to go to band at about 8:45 or so. A little later, Mom called to tell me Dung said he probably wouldn't be able to get back by then. She then said she'd just keep the lights and TV on and she'd be ok. I told her I'd come up to keep her company til I had to go, but she said it wasn't necessary.

My mom is growing up! Sniff!

So we ended up having dinner and, though Mom was ok with hanging out solo, Marci went up to get a break from the kids and to use a massage chair (and to hang out with Mom too!).

It'll be good for the girls to hang out a bit. It's been very busy most of the times we've been over and for me or Marci or the kids to get some "alone" time with Mom is good.

We'll see what happens next week when Dung and family are gone. We'll probably go over more as it'll be less hectic, but we'll miss them terribly too. Once they go, it'll really be back to "real life", as it were.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tonight at the Triple Door

Marci and I just got back from seeing an old friend (not really) play the Triple Door in Seattle.

Juliana Hatfield released a record last month and is touring around the country in support of it. She came to Seattle today and played the Triple Door. First surprise was that she was playing solo electric guitar and nothing else. Evidently the rest of her band had trouble or something. Second was that you can eat dinner at the Triple Door while the show is going on.

That's new.

Anyway, I've seen Jules twice. Both times were at the Croc and both times featured a band and rocked fairly hard. This time, it was Jules, her SG, a Fender Tweed amp, a capo and a bottle of water. She walked on stage right on time, 7:30, said, "Good evening," and started with Somebody Is Waiting For Me, a little ballad off of her record Beautiful Creature.

She continued on with several songs off her new record, a CCR cover, as well as a few older tunes. She looked great in grey skinny jeans, a black/blue skinny leather (?) jacket, and long, dark brown hair hanging about her shoulders.

A few songs in, she mentioned how warm she was, and took off her jacket, revealing a sleeveless blouse. She cracked some jokes about adjusting bra straps, and then talked about how her mom got her a "bra whisperer" fitting, so, for the first time in her life, she'd have a properly fitting bra. It was quite cute.

The rest of the night went on with Marci and I eating dinner. Jules played on, of course, and seeing her with just a guitar was very powerful. I had a smile on my face the whole time, and it wasn't only because of Marci's low cut shirt.

Jules has been in my top 1 or 2 favorite musical artists since I was in college. I think this was the best she's been because she just got to go up and sing. It wasn't without mistakes, but the ones she made were completely cute and not showstoppers.

She played for a good part of 90 minutes, and then, that was that. With a wave, she was gone.

I took some pictures, but they turned out crappy, for the most part. Here's my favorite one.



Juliana Hatfield is a great musician. Check her out and enjoy her music.

Friday, September 19, 2008

This and that

I hate that Dad is gone. I hate it when I'm doing something, focused on it, then stop. And then remember that Dad is gone.

Not crying anymore, so I guess that's good. Just reminiscing now.

Haley had a rough morning. The week finally caught up to her. It's kind of unfair to expect a 6 year old to start school (after expecting to start 2 weeks prior), deal with a death in the family, go to a funeral of said loved one, and see her parents cry, all in the span of a few days. She was exhausted and spent by tonight. We put her in bed without brushing her teeth.

I'm feeling a little guilty getting on with my life. I had band practice last night. Tonight I'm going to watch some TV. My brother, on the other hand, is at Mom's right now. She's pretty much told us to get on with our own things, but we still need to get her settled. Today's the first day I haven't seen her since Dad passed. We'll go see her tomorrow.

I think I'm most bothered by the fact that Dad should've lived 20 to 25 more years, if not for the cancer. I know it's neither here or there at this point, but, motherjumper, I feel cheated by that. It's a damn shame, is what it is. I just hope the other parents in the family can take the initiative to get themselves healthy, if not for themselves, but for the grandkids.

I miss you, Dad. Why'd you have to be so stubborn???

Nice thoughts from an old friend

One of Knight's oldest and closest friends got back in touch with us via Facebook. Then he heard about Dad and sent flowers, as well as a little letter he wrote. It brings back memories going on 20 years old, and the funny thing is, I wouldn't have remembered any of them if it wasn't for Manny.

Chang Family:

When I first heard about the passing of your dad, I was really sad. My sadness came from reading Gwon’s Website on the events leading to your dad’s passing as well as being able to, somewhat, relate to how you all must be feeling right now. Although I didn’t get to know your dad very well, I’ve always had a great deal of respect for his accomplishments, his ambition, and the lifestyle he was able to create for all of you while we were growing up. It was always a treat visiting your house. Here are a few of the many memories I can recall:

• Watching TV or playing video games on the largest TV I’d ever seen in my life!
• Playing cool video games from China on a Chinese video game system with Dung and Knight (dodge ball)
• Rich & Dung, bodily functions, and a lighter.
• Movie nights at your house on the awesome Big Screen TV.
• Playing b-ball in your back yard and slam dunking (without the foot-stool…I wish)
• Hanging out at C&A on weekends after buying TAPES at Tower Records
• Listening to rap music in Knights awesome civic lx (the only LX I had ever seen with a sunroof).
• Your dogs Moo Moo and Casey
• Gwon being able to pick me up in his Subaru from Sherwin’s house when I was snowed in and could not drive my Capri home (I also hit a deer that night but don’t worry, my car got the worst of that collision while the deer just ran away)
• Hanging out at your other house right down the street from the main house and schooling you all in ping pong (I never did get to play your dad. I heard he was the champ at Boeing)
• Hanging out in the Den with lots of friends and lots of laughs!
• And these memories can go on and on and on!

A lot of my fondest middle school/high school memories with you all, I feel, were made possible by the environment your dad created at your household. It was always easy to go to Knight’s house. The door was always open (I mean it. I never really remember ringing the doorbell to enter your house) and the experiences were always memorable.

You guys may not know this, but about 2-3yrs ago your dad called me. He called to ask me, because of my medical background, if I would be interested in joining him in a Vitamin/Supplement company he was involved in. At the time, I was involved in other business projects so I was not interested (I think I was shocked that a man that I had so much respect for and who already had so much success would be calling me).But the thing that stuck with me, to this day, was what he said at the end of our conversation. He told me to keep doing what I was doing because it would help me to provide for and create a great future for myself and my family. Those words were so inspiring to me, especially, at that time in my life. It totally makes sense to me that he gave all of you the book “The Magic of Thinking Big” (awesome book by the way).

Being a parent myself, I can only hope to create for my kids what your dad was able to create for you all while growing up. It was definitely fun to be a part of. I’m truly sorry that he passed away. His words to me and his way of life inspire me to this day. My thoughts are with you all.

Love,

Manny


Manny, thanks for this. You brought a smile to my face, and, most likely, to Dad's too.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The funeral

Well, after staying up until 1AM writing last night, I'm sorry to say that I didn't use anything I wrote. I read out loud to myself and it just didn't sound right. I felt like I was writing a blog. Reading it to myself in my head, it sounded better, but, of course, unless people at the funeral could read minds, I'd be out of luck. I didn't finish, but at 1, I packed it in and figured whatever happened in the morning would happen, good or bad.

Morning rolled around and we were all ok. Ate some breakfast and got dressed. Marci picked up a little double-breasted suit for Riley, complete with shirt and clip-on tie. Quite sophisticated, if you ask me. All he was missing was a cane and top hat.

I put on my suit for the first time this year and, luckily, it still fit. The pants are a little tight in the waist, and, to tell the truth, I think they've shrunk a little on the hanger the past 11 months.

We ran a little late, but got there in time for the important stuff. A few of my friends arrived, as well as former employees of C&A. Extended family and in-laws were there. Lots of M&D's friends came by and I was surprised at how emotional everyone was. I guess I'm used to the family's tears this week, but I wasn't prepared to see other people cry.

We started off with a slide show. We spent the past few days scouring photos of Dad from when he was a baby all the way up to June 08. Working on it didn't affect me, but when they started the slides, I did get a bit misty eyed. Worst is when Mom loses it. She didn't, but she did weep a little.

After the slides, I got up to speak. Quick trick: when you're eulogizing your deceased father, bring a Dixie cup of water to the podium. It worked wonders.

Anyway, I decided to not use what I wrote last night. Though the theme and certain parts were the same, I took it out of my pocket and kept it closed on the podium. I just thought reading it would sound stilted and unnatural. I wanted my speech to sound like I was just talking to someone about Dad.

I'll have to check the tape, but I don't remember how I started off. It felt rambling, but, before long, I felt like I hit my stride, talking about Dad's night in the ER and how strong Mom was, to how proud I am of my brothers, to how incredible the family has been from top to bottom. I did lose it a few times and have to pause to regain my composure. I was able to make eye contact with many people and not turn into a sniveling mess.

Overall, I feel really good about what I was able to say and how I said it. I'll try to transcribe it later for anyone that's interested.

Knight followed me and read from his cheat sheets. I guess he was up to 3am writing his. He reminisced a lot about Dad and his traits. About how Dad loved cars, basketball, antiques, as well as some of his qualities. Knight had to pause a few times as well, but was able to get his message across quite nicely. Though whether or not Dad actually made my bros and I sell bamboo pencils to the neighbors to teach us how to sell is debatable. Neither Dung or I remember that...

Speaking of Dung, he really impressed me. Either his job with Microsoft requires speaking in front of others and he's used to it, or I'm not giving him enough credit (though I remember him doing some sort of reading, perhaps at church, and thinking how robotic and monotone he sounded).

Anyway, Dung's speech was great. He gave some great specific examples of Dad and his generosity. He told stories about Dad giving each one of us a book called The Magic of Thinking Big (of which only one of us read. Guess who?).

Again, I'll have to watch the tape to give a better snapshot of what each of us said. I just know that there were a lot of wet eyes in the chapel, including ours.

edited to add: Marci! I can't believe I forgot to mention that Marci spoke at Dad's funeral. Marci is afraid of public speaking like I am afraid of spiders. She got up and gave a very touching eulogy for him and spoke from her heart. I was so proud of her! I got a little choked up and loved what she had to say.

A few more people spoke, then it was time to greet the attendees of Dad's funeral. I got to see a bunch of old friends of his, most of whom I recognize, but don't know the names of. I saw some of my own friends and it was just great to see them.

People finally filed out of the chapel and we were able to spend a few last moments with Dad before closing his casket forever. The kids came in (the ones who were comfortable enough to, at least) and said a final goodbye to their Tai Yeh. I had a little message for Dad and gave it to him in Chinese. We took some pictures, then closed the lid.

Now it was time to take Dad to the crematorium. I was bestowed with the honor of holding Dad's portrait and leading the procession. My brothers, uncles and cousins acted as pallbearers, and the remaining family members followed behind the casket.

In the crematorium, we gathered around the furnace (is that what it's called?) and waited as Joe, the funeral director, and co-worker prepared Dad for his final journey. They raised the casket into place, had us place our pallbearers' gloves on top, and then pushed Dad into the furnace. They sealed it up, then asked Mom to step forward. Knight, Dung and I surrounded and held her. Joe told her to simply push the green button when she was ready. Mom steadied herself, the reached up and pressed it with her thumb. A great humming sound emanated from the furnace, and then Mom collapsed against Dad's portrait, with my brothers and I supporting her.

We all cried then, from the four of us, to the rest of the family in the crematorium. It was finally over and Dad was gone from our world. Mom and my bros wept as we walked out of the crematorium. I wept as well, but then tried to pull it together for Mom. I told her that we would all help her and take care of her. That Dad wouldn't want to see us crying, and we needed to stop. That though Dad was lost, he led a quality life right up until the end and didn't suffer endlessly from medicines or hospital visits.

All in all, as sad and horrible as this has been for us. we have found strength, love, compassion and honor in each other. One thing I have learned from this entire experience is that my family is SOLID. My family is SOLID. We cannot, and will not be denied. My father left us with this, and it is something I will always cherish.

I miss Dad terribly already. Though I'm not crying all the time, or even really emotional, it's the quiet times when I think about him that it gets to me. This will take some time to pass.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The big day

Tomorrow is my dad's funeral. We've spent the past few days preparing for it. It's been emotional, but in a good way, with fond memories and a lot of laughter.

I've spent a lot of time with the other bros and SILs scanning photos and gathering thoughts. In a stunning development, my dear wife Marci is planning on speaking at the funeral. This would be akin to Indiana Jones becoming a snake charmer. Or Superman living on planet Krypton. Or oil mixing with water. You get the picture?

Anyway, I am about to write what I'm going to say. I have a feeling that I will lose it tomorrow.

We saw Dad again today. Took the kids to see him. Haley really wanted to see him, but she was clearly uncomfortable when she finally did see him. We asked if she was ok and she said she was, but I don't think she really was. Riley took it much more in stride, even reaching out to touch Dad's chest once.

We're expecting a lot of people tomorrow. Originally Mom wanted it to be family and close friends. That's blossomed to friends and ex-employees, to even friends of mine and my brothers. It seems that a lot of people were touched by Dad in many ways and they'll want to come pay their respects.

I'm actually looking forward to it somewhat, to get some closure, and to be able to share my thoughts with Dad, the family, and his friends. Much of what I'll say has been cultivated in talking with people this week, as well as writing here.

Anyway, keep us in your thoughts tomorrow.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Riley is hurting

It's 10:43 and Riley is still up. With Dad's passing, Riley knows something's different. He hadn't cried or anything indicating that he fully comprehends it, until now.

A little earlier tonight, Riley asked me, "Why did Tai Yeh die?"

Questions like that from the kids immediately get me going. Luckily it was dark in his room. I said, "Because he was very sick and his body got really tired." I told him, "You can always talk to me about Tai Yeh. I can tell you stories and we can talk to him together." I left him and Marci went in to see him shortly after.

I was downstairs and Marci came in wet-eyed, saying that Riley was sad that his Tai Yeh was gone, and that he was gone forever. He seemed to understand that that meant he'd never see him again. Marci told him to tell Tai Yeh his Knock Knock jokes, so he did. We heard him over the monitor babbling to himself, cracking himself up. Then we heard him crying, but we could tell it wasn't his run of the mill cry.

We went upstairs and he was crying, saying he really missed Tai Yeh. I immediately lost it and said I missed him. Marci piled on and she was crying too and we just all cried in Riley's bed for a minute.

Marci had changed her computer desktop to a picture taken last year of Tai Yeh holding Riley. I told Riley I had something that would make him happy and brought him out here to see that picture. We then went through the computer and looked at all the pix of Dad that we had. That seemed to make Rye feel better. We held him and we all calmed down. Then, out of nowhere, he yelled, "I CAN'T HELP IT!" and started crying again. It was so dramatic that it was funny, but our little boy is heartbroken.

Marci scooped him up and took him to our bedroom and held him for a minute. They came out and we all went on the deck to look up at the stars to see if we could see Dad sending any shooting kisses to us. He says he saw one, so I'll be happy for that. I told Rye about seeing a deer by Mom and Dad's house last night, and how Marci and I thought that was Dad's spirit visiting us. He thought that was cool.

I had no idea Riley would be as affected as he showed tonight. I thought he was too young and would just wonder why we were all sad and happy seeing family for the past few days. I thought he was just exhausted from playing with his cousins all day. But, he voiced his feelings to Marci and I, and for that, I am grateful.

My dad really touched those kids and I am thankful for every moment we were able to spend with him. We made an extra effort the past year to go see him and Mom as much as we could, and even so, we didn't get up there nearly enough.

It pains me more now that though Riley did get to see Dad one last time last Saturday, he didn't get to see him again after that, and now, Dad's gone. Rye will get to see Tai Yeh again in a few days, but Tai Yeh will be "sleeping" and I'm sure Riley will be a little confused.

Ah, Dad... we miss you so!

And Riley's asleep now.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Today was a good day

We had a good day today.

I talked with a close family friend today and went over Dad's story with her. I told her about how I've been going to church now for about 1.5 years or so, but still don't consider myself a Christian. I mentioned how I do pray occasionally, but I'm not sure if my prayers got heard or not.

I said that now that Dad's gone, that I felt like I had someone who would hear me now. And then, ka-pow! Tears! I finally cried. It wasn't major, but it was the most since Dad died. I cried with Judy on the phone. She cried with me. Haley and Marci came a runnin' and, as soon as it started, it was over. Just like that. But, it was good.

Marci and I dumped the kids off on some friends and went over to M&D's this morning. Knight was there vacuuming and being domestic. Mom was out with Uncle Bob, Yumei and Rainbow walking the neighborhood. It was a beautiful day and the fresh air and sun was good for all of us.

M&D would go for these long long walks when Dad was healthier. He'd try even as he got sicker, but, afterward, they'd just walk around the house.

Knight, Marci and I proceeded to clean the house a little. Evidently Mom asked us to clean the windows. With what, you ask? Windex? 409?

Rain-X.

I don't know why, but I thought it was funny. Chinese people are funny like that. But wouldn't you know it, though it's labor intensive, those windows sure were sparkly afterward.

Shannon came by later with some dim sum and shortly thereafter, the walking crew came back, hungry and sweaty.

The day went on and we kept busy. Marci and I got the kids later and brought them up. Mom had some friends visit and we started talking about plans for the next few days. We got to listen to Uncle Bob tell some stories about Dad. Stories about Dad and his game. Evidently, he was a little bit of a playa back in the day. It was pretty hilarious.

We looked through photo albums and digital pix Dad had taken while he traveled through China a few years ago. He was full and healthy and happy to be traveling. It was great to see him like that, and though he's been sick for a year now, I think that's how I'm going to remember him.

Mom told us that we needed to leave a porch light on and a hallway light on for the next month or so. The belief is that Dad will be visiting us and the lights will help him on his way. If it was anyone else, I'd be freaked out. Because it's Dad, I think it's pretty cool.

Haley had a touching/sad moment today. She's been a bit weird the past few days. She knows Dad is gone and she knows she's sad and I think she understands that dead means forever.

M&D have a little electronic pinball game. I was going to set it up for the kids to play and I asked if they'd share. Haley yelled, "NO!" and I just walked away. Riley was upset so I consoled him for a sec before going to lay a lecture on Haley. As I got to her, she came around the corner and surprised me by saying, "I miss Tai Yeh." She cried and said she didn't want to tell me that. I scooped her up and cried with her and told her I missed him too and we all missed him and he really missed us too. I told her it was ok to cry and that we are all so so so sad he's gone. That we all miss him so much and want him to be with us.

It was special for me to share that with her. I told her if she needed to cry or talk about it, that she could and I'd be there for her.

Tonight Knight and I went and picked up Dung and Ruby and their ever-growing family from the airport. I was confident it was gonna be a cry fest with the three brothers together for the first time since Dad's passing. I thought I'd finally sob like a little girl. Knight and I talked for a bit before the clan arrived and that was great. Knight is still pretty raw and I was ready for waterworks.

When the Ireland Changs came into view, we made a bee-line for them. I got to Dung first and we had a good ol' man hug. I told him how happy I was that they were here. We shared a few wet heaving breaths, but, for me at least, my eyes stayed dry. Hugs went all around. Megan is super-tall, Michael is skinny and tall, Annabelle is all smiles and dimples, and Joshua just isn't sure yet. He's about 14 months or so and probably doesn't know who all these wet eyed men are.

We packed everyone in the cars and headed home. I got to ride with Megan, Annabelle and Joshua. Talking with Megan was a hoot. She's almost 12 and it's fun having a conversation with her. She's excited to be home, though the reason why stinks. She's aware of what's going on and I told her she should feel ok to talk to any of us about her grandfather's passing.

At home, everyone was outside waiting for us. More hugs, lots of smiles, and, yes, more tears. Knight talked to Dad a bit and let him know we were all there. Though I know Dad knew, it was good to tell him. I can just see him with his big smile and picking up the kids and offering them all Mannabears (don't ask). He sure loved those kids and I loved watching him with them.

It was a madhouse for an hour or so. The Ireland Changs are 8 hours ahead, so once we got them home at 10:00pm, it was 6:00am for them and they were rarin' to start their day. Though, I'm sure the plane ride wore them out and, with any luck, they'll crash tonight.

I tracked Dung down upstairs in Dad's room looking at pictures and having a moment. It's tough to see him like that, especially since we've all had time to be at the house and have our own moments. I left him alone and let him do his thing for a few minutes.

Mom was in excellent spirits. She's gonna take over Dad's cell phone! In an moment of extreme irony, Marci, Yumei and Mom were sitting there working Dad's old RAZR phone. It's like the blind leading the blind. Actually, having seen Marci's and Yumei's glasses, that's as much literal as it is figurative!

Having all the family here again after a year was incredibly awesome. It was so awesome that, to me, it overpowered any major feelings of sadness. I know Knight and Dung had their moments when they got back home, and Marci, Shannon and Ruby did as well reliving the phone call to Dung, but overall, we were just so damn happy to see each other that it was all good.

When Marci and I left, we saw a deer crossing the street a few doors down from M&D's house. It was a boy (had 6" long antlers. That's a boy, right?) and it grazed on the neighbor's lawn a sec. I stopped and rolled down the windows and Marci chatted him up. We're told that since Dad's gone, his spirit will live on in something else and, corny as this may be, we told that deer that his house was a few doors down and that the family would be waiting for him.

In 31 years in that neighborhood, that's the first deer I've ever seen. I think thinking that was Dad is kind of neat.

Good to have a good day.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

My feelings, ramble on

Of course I'm sad. I'm still in shock, I think. Disbelief even.

I didn't think I would leave the hospital without my dad. I drove our Pilot, thinking he'd need a comfier ride home than in a small car.

I mowed the lawn yesterday when I could've brought Hay and Rye over to see Tai Yeh. It makes me sad that Riley didn't get to see him one last time. Haley went over on Tuesday and gave him a hug.

I'm mad that Dad didn't value his life enough to get these symptoms checked out in AUGUST WHEN HE FIRST EXHIBITED THEM!

I kept looking at him in the ER, lifeless, but my eyes played tricks on me. His chest seemed to rise and fall, even though I knew he was dead.

I watched my dear mom and brother cry. I listened to my mom scream about who would take care of her. And all I could do is watch and listen. I asked them what was wrong with me. They told me different people mourn differently.

I got choked up when I thought about telling Hay and Rye about their grandfather. I cried this morning, finally, when I told them about him. Then, just as suddenly as it started, I stopped crying.

I got choked up today when Mom was at home with Yumei and I and she was crying, head down on the dinner table where her and Dad shared thousands of meals. I rubbed her back, trying my best to soothe her and not lose it myself.

I talked with many friends today, sharing my experience, wondering if/when I would cry and let it out.

Why can't I cry? It seems the only time I get choked up is when the kids are involved. I think I may break down tomorrow when I see Dung and his family from Ireland, more because they simply couldn't be here and I'll be sharing my bro's pain.

So what now? I want to cry. I want to grieve. I want to sob but it isn't coming.

It's maddening! I miss my dad and the way I feel, it's like nothing has happened.

I commiserated with some friends who have also lost parents. One a mom, one a dad.

I thought about Mom's future without Dad and with us and it's bittersweet. Her and Dad are a 24/7 couple. What he does, she does, and vice versa. It was rare to see them apart. Now, seeing Mom at home, she's by herself. I'm expecting Dad to be watching TV or something... and he's not.

Looking at old photos, Knight is the SPITTING IMAGE of Dad. It's eerie. There's a picture of Dad with a short hair cut like Knight's. You'd think they were the same person.

Riley said that he'd see Tai Yeh in his heart, in his mind, and in the sky, as a "shooting kiss." He got that from a book he read.

Haley seems to get it a little. She really wants to see her Tai Yeh and we'll probably take her after Saturday, when we all get to see him at the funeral home.

Dad was a big pain in my ass sometimes. Growing up, I just didn't get him. He'd say things that would make me cringe. I'd be embarrassed of him around my friends.

As I got older, I realized the problem wasn't with Dad. The problem was with me. Instead of accepting who he was, I rejected him because he wasn't who I wanted him to be. Don't get me wrong; it's not like I hated him. Far from it. He was a pretty hand's off Dad. He told us what he expected and we did our best to do right by him, and, overall, I think we did pretty well.

I feel guilty for not being more emotional about it. It's really weird. Since having kids, I've become more emotional, especially with sappy movies/shows and the like. I'll get choked up at a movie and when my dad dies, nothing? What's wrong with me????

I think I'm going to go to bed now. I'm tired. I miss my dad. I hope he is at peace.

Telung Chang: 1941-2008

After the computer fiasco yesterday, I called Dad last night after work to see if he wanted the computer then. I don't remember who answered the phone, but they said no, then yes, then no, that it could wait til the next day. Ok, then, I said. Marci went to a school board meeting (teachers STILL on strike!) and I took the kids out to mow the back 9.

An hour later, I came inside to the home phone and my cell phone ringing. I was a sweaty mess, and, though Marci had bathed the kids earlier, crawling around in freshly cut grass does not make for cleanliness. I grabbed the phone and it was my s-i-l, Shannon, telling me to go get Dad and take him to the ER as he was short of breath.

Right then, it was crisis time. Trouble was, Marci wasn't home, the kids and I were a mess, and I had no plan. Luckily, Knight and Shannon were almost at M&D's house so it afforded me a few minutes. She told me that though Dad had to go, things seemed to be ok for the moment.

I got the kids cleaned up and tried Marci on her cell, but I couldn't reach her. Luckily, my aunt ended up coming over and stayed with the kids while I headed to Overlake Hospital. I figured since K&S drive a 2 door BMW and a little Scion, I'd drive the Pilot so I could get Dad home in comfort after he was discharged.

Shannon was in the lobby when I arrived. I sat and talked with her and found out that Mom and Knight, and Dad's friends John and Rainbow (??) were in the ER with him. I figured that was enough people for now and let them be. Knight came out a little later and gave me the scoop as to why Dad had to go in.

Evidently, Dad had come down the stairs last night and started coughing. He's been having coughing fits recently and this one really knocked him out. He couldn't catch his breath, and since he was having breathing difficulties already, Mom sent up the flare.

Anyway, I went in the ER eventually and saw Dad. He had an oxygen mask on and was covered in sheets. He was sweating profusely and his breathing and heart rate were sky high. I think his heart rate was about 135 to 140. He was alert and speaking to us through the mask and he told us it was hard for him to breathe while laying on his back. A nurse came in and helped him roll a little to his side, which seemed to ease his breathing.

The doctor came over later. He was a giant. Very tall. He said after the initial blood test, that Dad's white blood cell count was 5x normal. Dad's body was fighting hard against infection. His red blood cell count was at about 50% of normal. His left lung was pretty much full of liquid and his right lung wasn't far behind. He was also suffering from congenital heart failure.

Dad had a kind of vicious circle going on. His breathing was labored because of the liquid in his lungs. He was getting less oxygen into his bloodstream as a result. Because of that, his heart was pumping overtime, getting way up into the 130s, trying to get as much oxygenated blood through his body as possible. As his heart pumped away, it was beginning to fail.

All in all, a bad situation.

Throughout the entry to the ER and the initial diagnosis, people were emotional. Knight was very distraught, as was Shannon. John and Rainbow seemed pretty even keeled. Both of them have some sort of medical background. Mom was stoic. She stood next to Dad and made sure he was comfortable as could be and kept him engaged. I was much like Mom. I knew it was happening, but I wasn't upset or emotional.

After the diagnosis, the doctors explained that we could try a blood transfusion, which could help reduce the problems Dad was encountering. Mom agreed to do so, though, internally, I was disagreeing with it. I was pretty sure the transfusion wouldn't have helped anyway. I don't think it was a matter of being negative, but more of being realistic.

Dad was getting to a point where he was there but couldn't respond. It was very strange. He was awake, eyes open, and he tried to respond, but not for a minute did I think he was fading then. I don't know if it was denial or what. I stood there and watched him. I spoke with him. I told him that if he was strong enough to chew me out earlier about the computer that he should be fine now. It didn't occur to me until later that night that Dad's body and brain were shutting down.

Anyway, the nurses continued with the transfusion. They got the blood flowing and we waited. His heart rate and breathing began to slow a little, but Dad was still getting worse. Through it all, Mom was at his side, telling him how brave he was, telling him how he was going to be fine.

(By this time, I think, Marci finally made it to the ER. Her meeting ran long and, though it was informative, it didn't resolve anything. Strike still on.)

At some point in time, we called Dung, my youngest brother, who was with his family in Ireland, working for Microsoft. Marci called him and told him that he needed to get back to the US to see Dad, as he was in the hospital. Needless to say, he was quite upset, but began making arrangements immediately.

As some more time passed, the doctor asked what we wanted to do next. He said if it was his dad, he'd try to make him as comfortable as possible and just be with him. But he also said that our next medical step would be a CAT scan to see what was in Dad's lungs. Again, I was against it, and voiced my opinion this time, but Mom was ready and willing to do just about anything to save him, so I had to go with her wishes.

The medics carted Dad away and we met with a doctor. At this time, Yumei, my Uncle 2 and his wife, Marci, Mom, Knight, Shannon, John and Rainbow were in the room. The doctor asked us about Dad's medical history leading up to today. We filled him in on the details. Dad was diagnosed with colon cancer, stage 3, about a year ago. He made a decision to treat it using alternative means. He changed his diet and started taking herbal medicines. He traveled to China for 30 days for daily treatment.

A few moments later, they brought Dad back from the CAT scan and it quickly became clear that he was not breathing. After a check, we were told his heart had stopped beating as well.

The doctor said we had a decision to make. Either say yes to CPR and what he called a "heroic" effort to save Dad's life, or to let him expire as is. With the CPR, he said it would most likely fracture or break Dad's ribs, as well as traumatize his body further. If it was to save Dad, he'd be alive, yes, but in a lot of pain, and it was possible he could just die anyway. The alternative was to let him go. You know how I felt.

Both Knight and Mom were very upset and wanting to continue with the CPR but I finally said to Mom that it was over. I said that Dad wouldn't want to go through with it and, if he was able to be revived, who were we doing it for? Him or us? He was gone, and we should leave it that way.

Well, they finally agreed with me and I told the doctor to just leave Dad be and they went about undoing all the tubes and IVs and such from Dad. They were then able to leave us with him as we stayed in the room with him.

Mom, again, was the rock. She stood at his side and spoke with him. Knight stood with Mom, devastated. I stood at the foot of the bed and was at odds with myself. I wanted to cry, but I couldn't. I didn't know what the issue was. The tears were close, but they wouldn't come. Everyone else was pretty much a lost cause too, though it was on and off.

After spending a few minutes with Dad and everyone else, we thought we needed to contact Dung again to fill him in. I wasn't so keen on that idea initially; I thought he wouldn't want to suffer with the knowledge on the plane over. But, it was brought to my attention that if he wanted to get his family over, he needed to know that Dad had passed. Marci took that job while Mom, Knight and I stayed with Dad.

When Dung answered the phone, Marci broke the news to him about Dad and Dung just let out a heart-wrenching scream. Marci was able to get Dung's wife Ruby on the phone and relay the news. Marci said it was one of the worst things she's ever had to do.

Being that my parents are practicing Buddhists, Mom wanted to observe Dad's passing in a traditional manner (Here's where I'll probably botch everything, so please forgive my ignorance). Evidenly when someone passes, that person's body is to be left alone for 8 hours or so to allow the body's inhabitant a safe passage. We left Dad on the hospital bed and basically stayed with him. We talked to him. But for the most part, we just sat with him. The whole time, Mom was very strong and hadn't yet cracked.

A bit later, Mom and Yumei excused themselves for the restroom. Marci and I headed that way too and soon we heard heartbreaking screams and wailing from the restroom. Mom had finally broken. I stood outside the restroom with Marci. I wanted to go in and comfort Mom, but I also wanted her to be able to cry. I have NEVER heard her like that and I never want to again. I got a little weepy then, but I didn't want her to see me cry either, so I shut it off and waited for her. When she emerged, she had stopped crying and I just held her for a few minutes.

Night moved into morning and at about 1:30, Marci and I left. The plan was to have the funeral director pick Dad up in the morning for transport to the funeral home. We got home and slept a few hours, then got up at 6 to head back to the hospital.

In his room, we sat a bit longer as we waited. Knight, Uncle 2 and Auntie, Yumei and Mom made it through the night with Dad. Rainbow and John showed up again, as did Marci and I. We were able to be with Dad as he made the transition from the hospital to the hearse. From there, it was time to leave the hospital and get on with our grieving.

Yumei ended up taking Mom home. Knight went with Dad to the funeral home. I forget what Marci went to do. I went up to Mom (and Dad's) house to be with her. When I got there, Mom and Yumei were at the table holding hands. Mom looked a wreck. She was having some water when she lost it again, wailing away at the table. Yumei and I tried to comfort her, and finally we just held her while she let it out. Yumei started to lose it and I got a little moist as well, but we finally calmed it down.

I sent Yumei home to rest and stayed with Mom. She tried to rest upstairs while I stayed downstairs. Hearing her wailing throughout the house was heartbreaking.

Marci came over soon with some breakfast and Mom came down soon after. We hung out and Mom was able to mellow out a little. Knight came over after awhile and, once he and Mom got together, it was all over. I held both of them and told them that Dad did not want to see them like this, that they had to pull it together.

So, throughout the day, some friends stopped by, my Uncle Bob made it back from Houston, we brought the kids to see Mom, and we were just at the house. Talking. Greiving. Laughing, just a little. Loving. It was beautiful and horrible all at the same time.

Now we're making plans for Dad. Funeral service. Where he'll be kept afterwards. The business side of death, I suppose.

Me? I'm wanting to chronicle everything. I have a Word document started at work with memories about Dad. Most of it is so I can remember. Having a horrible memory SUCKS. Having a horrible memory when your dad has died will suck in the future. As I get old and the kids grow up, I hope they can see these blogs about Dad and them as a way to remember both the good and bad (though it seems like it's all bad now).

To everyone that has sent positive vibes, we all thank you. It's helpful and comforting to know people care. I think I'm spent now...

Dad update

He's gone.

10:45pm, 9/10/08.

More later.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Adding insult to injury

On a whim, I plugged in Dad's laptop. Guess what happened?

*&#%&#$*()#_)@!

Sometimes the simplest solution is the best solution.

More computer crap, starring Dad

Dad called me this morning. Said he hated the new laptop. It's too heavy. It's this, it's that. He really doesn't like it.

I get it.

So I've scoured ebay, checked Craigslist, and the best I can find is a similar laptop for about $350 or so. Then, inspiration.

Marci uses a T43. Dad has a T40. Swap the hard drives and, poof, Dad's got a laptop that is, for all intents and purposes, the same as his old one.

I called Dad to give him the update. He said ok. A few minutes he called and left me a message, saying that he really, really didn't like the new laptop. That if he disliked it so much, then Marci definitely wouldn't like it. He asked me to just find one on ebay/CL and go from there.

I decided not to call back, to go pick up the laptops later today to do the swapping. But he just called me again to make sure I got the message.

I told Dad that I had a free, quick way to get the problem solved, as noted above. He was adamant in not wanting to give Marci this new laptop. For some reason, he couldn't bear the fact that that crappy laptop would end up in her hands. He said the easiest solution would be to pay for a "new" used laptop and swap the drives. Well, that is easy, I suppose, but the other way could be done today.

Then he busted out the tired card, that he was too tired to argue with me about it. Wondering why I wouldn't just do what he said. Mom got on and said the same thing. I'm in the office, staring at the ceiling, feeling like chucking my phone out the door into the street. Finally, I relented. I'll track down a used unit.

Though, I suppose I could give him Marci's unit anyway and say I bought it used... hmmmm....

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Went to see Mom & Dad at lunch today

I was bringing Dad his new laptop this morning. I went in the house and the first thing I saw was the absorbent pad on the couch. With his colon cancer, let's just say he's been prone to going to the bathroom a lot.

(There's really no pulling punches here, I suppose. When your body starts giving up, these things happen, right?)

Anyway, it was sad seeing those pads on the couch and chairs. I guess it keeps things easier to clean, but, needless to say, that's a bummer.

As I was setting up Dad's computer, he was in a chair and I was kneeling next to him with my head right about at his stomach level. It sounded like the 4th of July in there. Gurgling, bubbling, and sproinging sounds. Sounded miserable.

He also said he had a hard time hearing me. I may have been mumbling a little, but it was weird that he couldn't hear so well.

If he didn't have the frickin' cancer, it might be comical, like he's becoming an old man... but he does, and it's sad.

Mom appears to be in good spirits, considering. She's been a brave little trouper through all this. We try to keep her feelings in mind during all this, but I can't help but wonder what's going through her head.

At lunch, I was telling Marci about my visit and the kids were asking if Tai Yeh (what they call Dad) was still sick.

I told them yes.

They asked if he was going to get better.

I said that we hope so, but there's a chance he won't. That if he doesn't, his body will break down and he won't be around anymore.

Marci asked if they knew what that meant.

Haley said, yes, it means Tai Yeh will die.

It's sad. Though Haley gets it, I don't know if she knows death means forever. I wonder what she thinks.

The more things change...

Dad spilled water into his computer recently. He was in TX, enjoying a cup of hot water, as he does (don't ask), when, poof, the bottom of the cup broke, spilling water into the bottom of his laptop, frying said laptop.

A new board would cost about $400 or so, so instead of fixing, I set him up with a new laptop from our inventory (we sell computers, fyi). I spent all afternoon yesterday and all morning today getting things as close to what he wanted as possible.

Like a good son, I took it over at lunch and set it up for him. I showed him how things worked, since it is a bit different on the hardware side, and left it with him.

A little while ago he called and told me the new computer was too heavy. It's a wide-screen, compared to a standard screen on the broken computer. I scolded him, saying he shouldn't be carrying it anyway, as he's so weak now. He said that he was referring to opening and closing the screen. I told him since it was stationary, to leave it open.

Then he said he just wanted his old computer back. :rolleyes:

So now, I'm scouring eBay to find a replacement chassis where I can simply insert his old hard drive.

Classic Dad for you.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

On a much lighter note

I have a giant pimple on my chin. I haven't had a giant pimple on my chin for a long time. I wish I could say my body finally grew out of adolescence, but it'd be a big lie.

Since I was a teenager, I had bad skin. It wasn't pizza-face bad, but I'd get big pimples on my forehead, temples and chin. Every once in a while, I'd get a big one on my nose and it just sucked.

I'd come up with theories as to why I'd get them. I thought my face would be worse as the seasons changed. I tried avoiding fried foods (so yummy). I'd wash morning and night. I tried different products. Nothing worked for me.

My acne was deep-seated and hard to "eliminate". They'd be so hard to pop that I'd just end up aggravating the skin more than anything else.

This kept up even into my thirties. It was quite lame.

I'd tried Proactiv Solution, even. I figured with the complexions and their before/after shots on the commercials, it must stuff. I signed up and got the stuff, but, sadly it didn't work for me. Instead, it would bleach my towels, sheets and shirts and was a waste of $50 every 2 months or so. I canceled my membership and carried on. I was 32 with the complexion of a 12 year old.

I was complaining about my face to a friend at work and she suggested Proactiv again. I told her my story. She said hers was the same and she complained to them. The CSR suggested she try the Extra Strength Proactiv. Her skin cleared up! She had some extra solution and gave me some. I tried it and, surprisingly enough, it worked for me too!

Unfortunately, the bleach effects are still there. I've taken to Scotch-Guarding my shirt collars now.

I've been really happy with the results the past 2 years or so. I still get an occasional pimple from time to time. This renegade one on my chin is ready to go, but I'm not gonna force it. Like an apple, it'll ripen in time. Until then, I'll just pretend I'm in high school again.

Did I just blog about a zit?

Cancer, Death, and Dad

(I posted this on a forum I frequent, hence the introductory stuff you've already seen)

My dad has cancer of the colon. It's been about 1.5 years now. It's his second go-round with cancer. The first was lymphoma cancer (non-Hodgkin's variety) and he got past that with chemo.

This time around, he's not so keen on trying traditional treatments. Instead, he's been talking to his Si Fu (spiritual master) as well as pursuing alternative means.

Over the past month or so, he's gotten worse. He and my mom traveled to Houston, TX recently, where they own a second home. I'm told that while Dad was at a casino, he, in his words, "almost died". Even with those words, he played it down. However, my uncle, who was with him at the time, mentioned to my brother and I that it might be a good idea for one of us to head to TX.

About 2 weeks ago, my bro flew to TX and spent 4 days there with my parents. He said Dad was doing better, but weak, and short of breath. He couldn't talk without pausing between words/sentences to catch his breath. He's refused to go to the doctor or seek any help besides what he can do on his own (eat well, rest, etc). It was bad enough that Dad sent my uncle to China to pick up some herbal medicine. Uncle Bob did the TX to China, back to TX round trip in 3 days. Pretty damn incredible, if you ask me. So, with this new medicine (placebo, anyone?), Dad was optimistic. He seemed to be doing better, even after one day on the meds, and my brother had to come back home, so he left my folks in TX. They were scheduled to come back a few days later anyway, so we thought things were improving.

A few days later I hear through the grapevine that Dad is doing worse. My bro and I determine this time that I will fly back to TX just to get on a plane with them the following day to bring them home. Kind of a security blanket, if you will. My mom is very soft-spoken and not so confident in her English skills and we worried what she would do if my dad was unable to speak or something worse.

Anyway, TX was fairly uneventful for me. It was great to see M&D's house, as well as my uncle and where they go to meditate. We flew home the next day and everything was fine.

Which, finally, brings me to my point.

I'm pretty sure my dad is dying. We're not sure if the cancer has spread to his lungs (hence the shortness of breath?) or what, but it's pretty clear he's not getting any better. Dad's Si Fu gave me directions on what my dad could and couldn't do (no meat, control temper, rest, etc). Dad has medicine that we went and picked up today, from an apothecary in Chinatown (dried seahorses FTW!). He still refuses to seek "regular" treatment. We would all love it if he'd go get an MRI so we can see what the heck is wrong with him.

He says he will live, that he's almost a Buddha, that he's wise. We think he's in denial. I have two trains of thought on this.

  • Respect his wishes. We let Dad live as he wants, meaning we're not badgering him to get checked, etc. We let him pursue what he wants for treatment and respect that. Simple enough, right? The trouble is, he's going downhill. We don't think he's in pain (he hasn't let on if he is or not), and if he is, well that would make it that much tougher. But, if we let him go as he wants, we're not constantly nagging him about something he wants nothing do to with. He's happier, we're not so happy, but I suppose we're supporting his wishes.
  • Nag him until he complies. My brothers and I, our wives, our other family members, we all want him to get checked out. We want him to be able to do something that is proven to work. We want something more concrete (even though it's never 100%) than what he's doing. At least if we know, we can plan accordingly, right? In addition, I've been on his case about updating his will, something he hasn't done for probably 20+ years. If/when he goes, we need to know that Mom will not be saddled with trying to figure all that stuff out.

Part of me is ready to follow #1. The way Dad's attitude is, it's not so much that he's resigned to death or living sick forever (at least not publicly), it's that he simply doesn't want anything to do with Western medicine. It's almost like he's cutting off his nose to spite his face. Try as we might, he's not willing to budge.

Part of me wants to follow #2. FFS, he's 67 and, if he was healthy, he could live at least another 20 years or so. With treatment of his cancer it may not be that long, but let's hypothetically say he gets 5-10 more years. Wouldn't that be worth it?

Now, playing Devil's Advocate for a sec. Let's say he does do chemo/radiation/surgery, who's to say he's not in constant care for issues related? It's pretty clear that a lot of people still suffer despite undergoing treatment. So, would we be prolonging his suffering for another hypothetical 5-10 years?

And I feel selfish, too, wanting him to stick around. I mean, who doesn't want a loved one to be around as long as they can? But, if he's suffering and he wants to be let alone? What then? How the heck am I supposed to feel?

Today I told Dad that we (the bros and fams) would be willing to let him be, provided he got his legal affairs (will) in order. I asked him what he wanted us to do exactly. He said for us to help him when he needed help (re: driving around, running errands, etc). I told him we could do that; we have been already.

I just don't know what else we can do. I know there's people out there that would say, "Are you freakin' crazy? He's your dad! You take his ass into the hospital and get him checked. His life is at stake!" I get that. Like an intervention. But who is that serving? Him or me? Or am I being a puss for not manning up and just doing it anyway?

I'm just here to vent. I'm not emotional (re: crybaby) yet, but it'll come eventually, I think. I guess I'm just looking for some insight from those of you who may have lost a loved one too soon.

Thanks for listening.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Back from Texas

Well, that was interesting.

(A little backstory. My dad has been sick for some time. He had cancer about 5 years ago and was able to get through that with chemo. Nowadays, he has cancer again, this time of the colon. He's been "treating" it without chemo or radiation or anything like that, as he doesn't want to go through the pain of it again. He's been doing as ok as you can when you have colon cancer, I suppose. He says he's not in pain, that it's mainly inconvenient for him [he needs to be near a restroom pretty much at all times]. Even so, he's been able to live his life the way he's wanted, instead of laying in a bed recovering from chemo, etc.)

A few weeks ago, we heard from my uncle, who was in Tomball, TX (a suburb outside of Houston) with my parents. He said that Dad wasn't doing so good, that he actually passed out at one point. My brother, Knight, and I made the decision that he would fly to Houston to be with M&D to make sure they were ok, and if they weren't, to do something about it.

Knight made arrangements and went to TX for about 5 days. While he was there, Uncle Bob actually flew to China, picked up some medicine on the QT and brought it back to TX in the span of about 3 days. Pretty incredible, if you ask me.

Knight stayed with M&D and just took time to see how Dad was doing. He seemed to gain strength while Knight was there and, when Knight came back home, he was feeling pretty good about how Dad was doing.

A few days ago, Knight called me saying that Dad was doing not so hot again. Apparently Dad was short of breath and saying he needed a blood transfusion (!) or something. We made plans for me to go to Houston this time, even though M&D were to come back the following day.

I caught a flight from SeaTac at 8:20 Thursday morning. The flight was pretty uneventful. I sat by some old ladies who kept to themselves. I tried to catch some shuteye and listened to tunes the whole way.

Once I got off the plane, I had to find my way to the rental car place. Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport is pretty big. It's like a shopping mall, too. They had a vending machine selling Sony products. Heck, if I wanted a PSP, I could've bought one there. Handy, I suppose.

I finally got to the rental facility, got my car (Ford Fusion), and made my way to Tomball to see Mom and Dad. Did I mention that it was about 90 degrees with humidity? And what did I wear? Jeans and a black shirt. Ugh.

I was pretty impressed when I pulled up to their house. I've seen pictures of it, but in person, well, it was different than anything out here. First of all, it was all red brick. Very stately. It was tall, too. Kind of like a milk carton. The driveway wound around the side of the house to a detached garage. I got out and met Mom out back. She was pretty happy to see me. Dad and Uncle Bob were inside and I guess the good news was that I wasn't surprised or anything about Dad's appearance. He actually looked pretty good, considering.

We hung out there a bit after I got the tour from Mom. It's a big house and pretty empty since it's just the 2 of them there. Evidently Dad was feeling pretty spry so we headed out to what I've dubbed, The Compound.

For the past few years, M&D and Uncle Bob and Yumei have all headed to Houston at various times to be at The Compound. It's on a piece of land near their home in Tomball where a bunch of people have volunteered time and money to build a sort of sanctuary. There's a big swamp/pond, numerous walking paths, small homes and dormitory style buildings, a common area, as well as places for worship and congregating. I'd never been there before and always thought it was a little out there. But, after seeing it first hand, I must say, I was quite impressed.

My Uncle Bob was there, and, as always, he was a crack up. He's been there since April, I think, working away, paving paths, pulling weeds, building fountains and the like. It's hot and muggy and full of bugs, but, you know what? It was peaceful and beautiful. Though I'd never been to summer camp, I'd imagine this was like year-round summer camp for the people involved.

The other people there were happy to see Dad. He's sort of a VIP or BMOC there and they hadn't seen him for a week or so due to his weakness. When he arrived, you could tell people were relieved, but also cautious around him. They all want him to get better, but Dad is a stubborn ol' dude. He's going to do it his way.

M&D ended up having dinner there while I sweated it out chatting with a younger member there. His name was Kai and he was the musical director or something. I also got pulled aside by the Si Fu (Master) later. He ran down the ground rules for my dad once we got him home. No meat, no losing his temper, he must rest and not speak, no more going to the casinos, and he must continue to take his medicine. After a month or so of that, the Si Fu's thought was that Dad would get better. So far, he's been on this new medication for about a week and he has improved. We'll see how he does a month from now.

After our visit to the Compound, we hit Target (I forgot deodorant. In Texas? P.U.), then dinner for me at Chili's. Following that, it was back home for an early bedtime as we had to rise the following morning (today) by 4:30am or so.

Fast forward to this morning. I got up and showered and we headed out the door shortly thereafter. We got to the airport with no problems and, long story short, the rest of the trip was uneventful.

Apparently, Dad chewed Knight out later for sending me out there without his knowledge. I think Dad is just tired of everyone telling him he's sick and that he needs help. I know if I was him and I was getting bombarded by everyone, I'd probably tell everyone to shove it too.

Right now, Dad's at home, chillin', I hope. I'm working from home this afternoon as I am wiped from traveling (feel kind of wimpy about that). Dad's grounded for now. We're not letting him go anywhere until he can prove to us that he's healthy enough to do so. Mom seems to be in good spirits and we're all going to be spending some extra time together.

I'm a bit conflicted about how I feel. Part of me wants to drag Dad's ass to the doctor to get him checked out. We need something concrete to go on. He keeps telling us that his tumors are shrinking, but how does he know for sure?? He can't! Then again, part of me wants to sit back and let him live his life the way he wants. The problem with that is he's only 67. This dude should live another 20-25 years or more! For him to potentially cut himself short of that many years is distressing.

So, there you have it. My past 48 hours in a nutshell. Thank goodness it's Friday and we can all chill for a few days. To those that have called and sent well-wishes, I thank you. It's touching to know so many people care so much. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

What are the two things that come from Texas again?

Due to unforseen circumstances, I'll be heading to the great state of Texas tomorrow morning. Everyone is ok, but my dad is ill and may need help coming back to Seattle. I'll be back Friday and everything will be peachy keen.

In a rut

I'm uninspired to blog. Now that you've stopped applauding, I'll continue.

Not sure what it is. I get ideas, then I get lazy and don't feel like typing. So I'll just type.

Haley lost her first tooth yesterday. She's had a loose tooth for what seems like forever. The tooth behind it is popping in and we were getting a little concerned as the dentist has told us that her teeth are crammed in there supertight. She was wobbling it around yesterday and, poof, out it came. I'll have to put up a picture of Gap-Toothed Haley soon.

The teachers are on strike so Haley and Rye aren't going to school anytime soon. That's put a monkeywrench in things as it delays the start of the school routine, but, I suppose it's just bonus summer vacation at this point.

Haven't been playing music much lately. The Lunds have been on extended break. First it was a vacation, then a birthday, then a concert. We'll hook up next week, and then probably take another week off as it's Marci and my 8th anniversary. Yow.

All quiet on the Riley front lately. It's just a countdown for now. Keep an eye on his blog for updates.

Wow. How inspired was that?