Finished with engines


My father died today.  He spent the better part of his life as an engineer with the Merchant Marine.  It is a maritime tradition that when a member of the engine department passes away he is said to be “finished with engines”.

My father had been in failing health for some time but if pressed to identify the cause of death I’d have to say he died of a broken heart.  Losing mom after 61 years of marriage took both an emotional and physical toll.  I think he survived as long as he did so he could be there to take care of mom.  Without her his life lost meaning and purpose.

He was 83 years old and by any account he lived a long, and often hard, life.  He was nothing if not strong willed.  His passing was inevitable but I was surprised by how quickly he went in the end.  I believe he just decided it was time to go, so he went.  By all accounts it was a peaceful and easy departure.  Perhaps that’s the best any of us can hope for.

His desire was to have his body donated to the medical university.  After jumping through some bureaucratic hoops today we were able to make that happen.  Dad was always generous in his own quiet way and certainly wouldn’t want a big deal made of his parting gift.  And he made it very clear that a big funeral was not for him.  So I hope this simple tribute will suffice to do justice to his memory.

Dad, you were an amazing man and truly one of a kind.  You’ll be missed by all who knew and loved you.

My father was a lover of poetry and some of my earliest memories are of him sitting in his easy chair reading his favorite poems out loud to us kids.  And I distinctly remember him reciting this one on some long ago day:

Under the wide and starry sky
Dig the grave and let me lie.
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.

This be the verse you grave for me;
“Here he lies where he longed to be,
Home is the sailor, home from sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.”

–“Requiem” Robert Louis Stevenson



I just wanted to update y’all regarding my dad.  He was moved to the hospice ward at the hospital yesterday.  I’m sure you understand the implications of that.

He was hospitalized last week with pneumonia, and he has gotten progressively weaker.  He’s been unable to swallow so he was being fed though a tube in his nose to his stomach.  That’s a short term solution and they wanted to insert a tube directly through his stomach.  In his condition that’s a risky surgery, but necessary given the alternative.  Against my advice, he declined the surgery.

So, the goal of Hospice is to keep the patient comfortable.  I’ve not given up hope that he will regain the ability to swallow and can take nourishment by mouth.  If not, well, he’ll just fade away.

Sorry to be sharing this sad news, but thought you’d want to know.

The Jews of Asia

Instapundit links to this article about the burgeoning interest in the study of Judaism apparently taking place in Korea.   Fascinating stuff and something I never really noticed during my time there.   I was more than aware of the seemingly ever expanding Christian influence as evidenced by a skyline filled with neon crosses, numerous mega-churches, and street missionaries with loud speakers.  Anyway, given the thousands of years that Korea has been locked in the vice between Japan and China and subject to frequent invasions and dominance from one of the other it’s perhaps understandable that they can relate to the historic plight of the Jews.

When I first saw the article I was reminded of a scene from the Showtime series Shameless.  One of the characters had written a term paper for a Korean-American high school student.  When the Korean kid attempted to negotiate a “discount” from the previously agreed upon price,  the frustrated American said “no wonder Koreans are called the Jews of Asia” to which the Korean indignantly replied “that’s racist!”.

Which in turn reminds me of the struggle I have had these past few months breaking Jee Yeun’s habit of always trying to negotiate a reduction on fixed prices here in the states.  She usually gets a blank stare when she makes that uniquely Korean hand gesture and says “price down–give me discount”.   Although to be fair, she did secure a reduced price on a new mattress set.  Maybe I should just shut up and let her utilize her all those Jewish Korean skills!

Upward over the mountain

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mom’s out there in the great wide open.

And speaking as one who is spending his first mother’s day without a living mom, indulge my imparting a little advice.

Sons and daughters, do more than the card and the “I love you”.  Take the time and make the effort to do the little things to make your mother feel special.  She’s easy to please I’d wager and letting her know you care will mean the world to her.

Don’t be like me wishing you had done more when it is too late for anything other than regrets.

Here’s the song my nephew sang after the funeral.  I find it hauntingly beautiful.

Mother don’t worry, I killed the last snake that lived in the creek bed
Mother don’t worry, I’ve got some money I saved for the weekend
Mother remember being so stern with that girl who was with me?
Mother remember the blink of an eye when I breathed through your body?

So may the sunrise bring hope where it once was forgotten
Sons are like birds, flying upward over the mountain

Mother I made it up from the bruise on the floor of this prison
Mother I lost it, all of the fear of the Lord I was given
Mother forget me now that the creek drank the cradle you sang to
Mother forgive me, I sold your car for the shoes that I gave you

So may the sunrise bring hope where it once was forgotten
Sons could be birds, taken broken up to the mountain

Mother don’t worry, I’ve got a coat and some friends on the corner
Mother don’t worry, she’s got a garden we’re planting together
Mother remember the night that the dog had her pups in the pantry?
Blood on the floor, fleas on their paws,
And you cried ’til the morning

So may the sunrise bring hope where it once was forgotten
Sons are like birds, flying always over the mountain 


Hanging on by a thread

No, the blog is not dead, on life support perhaps, but not dead.

The fact of the matter is that I just don’t have anything much of interest going on these days.  And what little I’ve had to say, I’ve said on Facebook.

I’ve pretty much finished all the major house projects (or at least I have exhausted all my discretionary funds).  And I’ve got a nice, comfortable place to call home.  Best of all, it’s paid for.  In this economy, that’s better than money in bank.  Or so at least I keep telling myself.

My dad has some pretty serious health issues.  He has a condition called temporal arteritis which has caused him to lose vision in one eye and impaired the vision in the other.  It appeared for awhile he may go completely blind, but six days in the hospital for intravenous steroid treatment seems to have stopped the progression of symptoms.  He’s extremely weak and unstable however, so I make daily visits, do his shopping, and drive him to his doctor appointments.

I’m still playing darts twice a week and I’m throwing about as well as I ever have.  Which is not great, but I don’t have the frustration that comes from under-performing.  Darts is really the extent of my social life, and it’s something I look forward to each week.

Had a visit from some old friends from high school, Rod and Pat Headlee.  Our paths seem to cross every few years and we get the chance to catch up on what’s happening and reminisce about the glory days.  I must admit that their life is much more interesting than mine.  They live on a 42′ sailboat and regularly travel the big water to exotic locations, mostly in the South Pacific.  They had some really amazing stories about their adventures.  We have a standing invite to join them on the boat for one of their journeys.  Truth be told, I can see myself meeting them in Pago Pago and doing some day trips around the islands but I’m not sure I’m up for a blue water excursion.  We’ll see.

Jee Yeun seems to be adapting well to life in America.  Although she’s a big city girl at heart, and as far as cities go, Columbia is a burg compared to Seoul.  She’s a trooper though.  She’s been out digging in the back yard for the past couple of days removing weeds and such.  I think she must enjoy it, but she did tell me the other day that she hadn’t planned on becoming a farmer when she moved to the USA.

I’ve also enjoyed getting to see the kids and grandkids on a semi-regular basis.  And I have a new granddaughter in the hatch, which will be my son’s first child.  She’ll be born right about the time I get back from Korea.

I’m really looking forward to spending the summer back in the Land of the Morning Calm.  Jee Yeun says I miss Korea more than her.  Maybe that’s true.  I miss my friends and the lifestyle, that’s for sure.  Of course, I recognize that things will be different when I return.  Life moves forward and things change and all that.  But I’m nothing if not adaptable, so I’m not too worried.

I think my biggest fear about returning to America was getting sucked in.  By that I mean, falling into a quiet routine and living a vanilla life.  I’ve been consciously resisting that, but I’m probably at least half way there.  But I’m not going down without a fight!

See?  I warned you I had nothing much to say.  And I said it anyway.