My Mom's Last Trip

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February 21st 2016
Published: February 22nd 2016
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Today my Mom left for Heaven. It's a one way trip. I will miss her a lot, as she was a constant presence in my life; always there when I needed her. At least she will be with Dad who took this same trip on August 2, 1988. And she will meet Jesus and many friends and family...what a homecoming! She took many trips for God in the 94 years she travel this earth; telling so many people about Him.

That's what took her to China in 1947 to be a missionary, in the story I share in The Beginning. You can read about my Mom and Dad, and how they met on the ship to China and got married in Xiahe (Labrang) in the ethnographically Tibetan part of China. They evacuated China when the Red Army approached and moved to Thailand in 1949. I came along not too long afterwards, born at the Bangkok Nursing Home. Shortly after that I started traveling with them. My travel blog pretty much tells the whole story, so I will just summarize our travels together and share a few pictures. I got my travel bug from them just as Linda and my children have from me.

We didn't travel much when we lived in Thailand for the five year periods in between year long furloughs in Canada and the United States. However, when I was about one, we took a boat to Hong Kong. But mostly we vacationed at the beach at Hua Hin, a small fishing village and royal retreat on the Gulf of Siam. It was hard to get around Thailand in the 1950's before they had paved roads, so we mostly went where the train took us, and Hua Hin was one such spot.

Our round the world trips to the States for furlough were my first exposure to real long distance travel. Mom and Dad really made the most of these trips. While other missionaries flew or sailed directly back to the States, Mom and Dad made sure we saw everything in between.

I was only three in 1952 for our first furlough recounted in My early years in Northeast (Pak Isan) Thailand and first round the world trip, when we flew from Bangkok to Calcutta, India; Karachi, Pakistan; Dhahran, Saudi Arabia; Damascus, Syria, and Amsterdam, the Netherlands on our way back to the Toronto, Canada. We lived there for six months with Mom's parents and then to Nyack, New York for six months to be near Dad's parents who lived in New York City. And I don't remember much of our trip there, but I do remembers snippets of the way back. We flew to Los Angeles...I remember when the bandits robbed the train at Knott's Berry Farm ...and then on the Pan Am Clipper flying boat across the Pacific, stopping in Honolulu, Fiji, Sydney, Darwin...where I remember kangaroos... and Singapore...where I remember the lanterns decorating the Raffles Hotel in celebration of Queen Elizabeth II coronation...on the way to Bangkok. My first memories of travel!

For the next five years in Thailand, my only out of country traveling was to a mission boarding school in Dalat, Vietnam as recounted in 1956-1958: Early years at Dalat School . I was almost seven when Mom and Dad sent me away for four months. I would return for two months only to be sent away for another four months; a routine that would last through high school except for the two years (third and ninth grades) we were on furlough. It was really hard to leave them...homesickness was overwhelming. Even today, I sigh a lot when I'm about to be separated from family...I'm sighing now. Mom gave me a verse Psalms 56:3 "What time I am afraid I will trust in Thee." This sure came in handy when the Viet Cong surrounded Dalat, with ARVN artillery shells screeching over the school. And she told me that when I feel alone, to look at the moon. She could see the same moon I did. Mom and Dad wrote letters every week. I did too, but mine were brief: "Dear Mom and Dad, How are you? I am fine. Love, Bobby."

I was eight for our next furlough in 1958 as recounted in Around the World by boat in 1958/59, so I can remember everything about our train trip from Bangkok to Singapore, where we caught the Lloyd Tristino Line's Asia from there to Colombo, Ceylon; Bombay, India; Karachi, Pakistan; Aden, a British territory at the time; the Suez Canal, Egypt, and landing in Naples, Italy. Our new VW Beetle was waiting at dockside. We drove to Pompeii, Rome, Florence, and Milan, Italy; Luzern, Switzerland: Frankfurt, Germany with its buildings still showing the results of the Second World War; Brussels, Belgium for the Worlds Fair; Wassenar, Holland; London and Southampton, England, where we caught the SS United States to Le Havre, France and then to New York City where we drove our VW off the boat to my grandparents apartment. After our year in the States we drove our little VW Beetle across the States, where we caught the SS Steel Rover, a freighter, from Oakland to Manila and Mindanao, Philippines; Jakarta, Bandung, and Surabaya, Indonesia; and up the Mekong River to Saigon, where my sister Sue and I proceeded to Dalat School.

During those five years as recounted in 1959-1964 Middle School Years at Dalat and 1959-1964 Home in Korat, it was back and forth between Korat, Thailand and Dalat, Vietnam. In 1962 our life changed with American troops deployed to Thailand and Vietnam. We saw the War from beginning to end. Mom and Dad hosted GIs in our home, and I collected patches, mostly from the 25th Infantry Division.

I was fourteen for our next furlough in 1964 as recounted in Around the World - Take Three. We flew from Bangkok to Beirut, Lebanon; to Jerusalem, Jordan, where we crossed through the Mandelbaum Gate to East Jerusalem, Israel; then to Vienna, Austria; Copenhagen, Denmark; Oslo, Stavanger and by hydrofoil to Bergen, Norway; then flew to JFK, New York. At the end of our year, we flew to Colorado Springs to visit an Army family we had known in Thailand; then to Honolulu, Hawaii; Hong Kong; and then Bangkok. This was my last round the world trip with Mom and Dad as I graduated from Dalat School in 1968, now relocated the Cameron Highlands of Malaysia due to the Vietnam War.

My time in Thailand and Malaysia from 1965 to 1968 is recounted in 1965-1968 Korat and Bangkok and 1965-1968 High School in the Cameron Highland, Malaysia. Mom and Dad came for my graduation. They had only visited me at Dalat School twice before, in 1958 when the picked me up and drove back to Thailand via Angkor Wat, tourist then!!!, and in1962; something I have always regretted. Kids at boarding school have it so much better today...instant communications with family via the internet and cheap airfare across Asia and around the world. Of course, today most sights that we saw all by ourselves are now crowded with tourist from every country. I'm so pleased my Mom and Dad instilled in me the obsession to travel, and especially during the Golden Age of travel before mass tourism.

After I graduated from college in 1972, I married Linda and as recounted in Back to Thailand with Linda - our home in Bangkok we flew from Pittsburgh to San Francisco, where we caught a Military Airlift Command flight from Travis AFB to Hickam AFB, Honolulu; to Anderson AFB, Guam; to Clark AFB, Philippines; to Ton Son Nhut AB, Saigon; and finally to Bangkok where I had a design and then construction job with the U.S. government. Mom and Dad met us at the airport. Linda and Mom became best friends shopping and touring Bangkok while I worked. Linda drove Dad to distraction with her driving...traffic wasn't as bad then as it is now. Linda and I traveled all over Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia and Burma during our two and a half years there. After a year in Bangkok, we moved to Chiang Mai. Mom and Dad were going back to the States via Europe for furlough in 1974. Of course, we had to join them, but after time with them in Switzerland and Luxembourg, Linda and I took the Eurailpass all over Europe as recounted in Eurailpassing through Europe with Linda.

In 1975, with the end of the Vietnam War, we moved to Washington, DC. about a 5 hour drive from Mom and Dad. They returned to Thailand in 1976, and in 1977 we moved to Germany. We lived in Germany and Belgium for the next eighteen years. During that time Mom and Dad passed through many times. First in 1978 Mom flew in with her friend Dr. Mary Mercer, to tour France, Italy and Switzerland with us as recounted in Touring France and Switzerland with Mom and Mary. later that year, Linda and I visited Mom and Dad is Thailand for Christmas as recounted in Christmas with family in Thailand. On their way back to the States for furlough Mom and Dad stopped in Germany where we then toured Switzerland, Austria, Bavaria, and Great Britain as recounted in Switzerland, Bavaria, and Great Britain Summer Vacation with my parents . We wouldn't see Mom again until 1983, when she and Dr. Mercer flew into Rome, and Linda and I met them there as recounted in Long weekend trip to Rome. Later in 1983 we flew to Malaysia and Thailand for Christmas with Mom and Dad as recounted in Malaysia and Thailand Summer vacation. In 1984 Dad had a health emergency trip to the States and on their way back Mom stopped over to visit us, where we took her and my sister Carol on a barge trip around Holland as recounted in Holland by canal barge, shortly before we moved to Brussels, Belgium. After they retired to Florida in 1986, this became a prime destination for our home leaves, and after we moved back to the States in 1995 we visited every spring break through 2005, when we retired and moved to Colorado.

My Dad's last visit to Europe was to babysit while Linda and I took an official NATO visit to Portugal. Upon our return we took Mom and Dad for a tour of Bavaria, Italy, and Switzerland as recounted in Bavaria, Italy and Switzerland with my parents. After Dad passed away in 1988, Mom visited us on Brussels on many occasions. And after we moved back to northern Virginia in November 1995, as mentioned before we visited Mom in Florida many times.

Fast forwarding to the recent past, Mom moved in with is in August 2008 for a year. I took her to China in 2009 when she was 88, which is quite a story (see blogs starting at Final Preparations for our trip to Asia) and then dropped her off in Bangkok, where she lived with my sister Carol for three years. Mom returned to live with us in 2012, and after 2013 at a nursing home until she took this final trip. I don't regret her this journey at all. She has had a full life, which has impacted so many people for the good.

Dad passed away at 66, the age I am now and when I walk the Camino de Santiago in September 2016. She passed away at 94. I hope I have her genes, but will settle for something in between! She will be cremated. I thought of the movie "The Way," and scattering her ashes along the Camino. She wants her ashes to be scattered from the top of a Swiss Alp. There are so many other candidate sites that she loved in her travels around the world that I may just go to every one. Bye Mom! See you soon!

Additional photos below
Photos: 64, Displayed: 29


Mom, Bob, and Sue at the Raffles Hotel, SingaporeMom, Bob, and Sue at the Raffles Hotel, Singapore
Mom, Bob, and Sue at the Raffles Hotel, Singapore

Celebrating Queen Elizabeth II's Coronation on our way back to Thailand

22nd February 2016

A beautiful tribute
I loved reading this Bob, what a full life your Mum lived. Thinking of you and your family at this sad time...
22nd February 2016

My prayers are with you that God will continue to flood you with wonderful memories and comfort.
Thanks for sharing the pictures and story....what a remarkable life you all shared! Love to you today from Ohio.
22nd February 2016

A life well lived
Bob, firstly my condolences. Secondly, you have many fond memories - and you are fortunate indeed to have so many photographs to remind you of those happy days.
22nd February 2016

Celebration of Aunt Bonnie's life
Its so wonderful to know Aunt Bonnie is with her Lord and with her family that have taken the journey. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.
22nd February 2016

Very inspirational
Lovely reading, quite touching account of a great story, thanks a lot for sharing it with us.
22nd February 2016

Thanks for this travel blog. It was good to see a bit more of your mom's background. I have known your mom for a very long time, she had been a great encouragement to me during difficult months I had spent in Bkk many years ago. Saw her last a few years ago when she stayed with Carol at the AGH in Bkk. - I am glad with you all that she can rest now with our Lord, though I can understand your sorrow and pain. - May the Lord bless you!
22nd February 2016

A beautiful journey!
Thanks for sharing, Bob. What an utter joy and beautiful son you must have been to her -- to continue her journey on this earth with such spark and optimism -- very touching, and such a celebration of her life here! Hugs to you and your family.
22nd February 2016

My condolences
I really enjoyed reading about your parents' story and how they both met. It really was very heart-warming! It was all interesting, but the part about the Red Guard in China cer ain't caught my eye. Such an interesting culture. It sounds like there were so many precious memories. All the best.
22nd February 2016
Mom and Bob at Hua Hin beach, Thailand

Family First
Please accept our condolences at this time Bob & Linda & your family. It is difficult on the death of a loved one to know and remember what to say. But as part of your life's work Bob, has been to document your life of myriads of homes and journeys, the details are there for posterity. And thus the story of your mother's life in your family's can be told...and what a journey of adventure it was. In our brief times with you in Oz & your home in USA, Denise & I were always impressed that your dedication to family was paramount. Your mother's story shows where you got this from. I'm sure your Dad played a big part in this also. How wonderful to be blessed and loved by such an amazing mother who has been such an inspiring influence in your life.
23rd February 2016
Mom and Bob at Hua Hin beach, Thailand

Family first...
very true, and we could see your affection of your own children...getting together with Simon in Toronto and then him coming home with his girlfriend (fiancée?). It's nice that your daughter lives nearby and is following in the footsteps of her dad.
22nd February 2016

What a beautiful story
Bob it was very moving reading this particular blog, and it's clear your parents were an inspiration, especially when it comes to travel and discovery and yet with all that bounty the homesickness you experienced has lasted a lifetime... What a life story you've had; all the adventures and destinations and memories...Wow! These are the types of stories get made into movies! I'll look forward to reading your Camino journey (And no doubt your parents will ride on your shoulder & give you a little extra lift in your step on the days you need it the most...!)
23rd February 2016
Mom and Bob at Hua Hin beach, Thailand

A Wonderful Life!
What an adventurer your mom was--meeting a man on a ship and marrying him, far from home. And then being up for all those lovely travels, even though surely it was she who bore the brunt of packing all of you up (I went to 14 schools as a Navy brat and saw my mom's hard work). Great that she traveled with her husband and family, her good friend and later with her kids--nothing was going to stop her. And good for you for chronicling your life of travel--I really admire you for this. So sorry about your mom's passing, but as you said, she had a long and full life. May we all be so blesses.
23rd February 2016

Beautiful tribute of your beautiful mom
Bob, I am sorry you've said goodbye to your mom, but rejoicing with you that you will see her again. What a great and fascinating story you shared here...the photographs are amazing, too. This is a treasure. Thank you for sharing it! Can I share the link on the Dalat Challenge FB page? I think others would enjoy reading it!
23rd February 2016

Thanks for your comment...
yes, you can share the link on the Dalat Challenge FB page.
23rd February 2016

The trip of a lifetime
So sorry for your loss and what a lovely way of remembering your mom. Thinking of you.
23rd February 2016

SGreat tribute blog
Hello Bob. Please accept our condolences on the passing of your beloved Mother. What a great tribute in the form of a blog. I will now go back and read more of your family's stories. We ultimately decided to do several sections of The Way in early June 2016. Watch our blogs. GregCath (Gregory and Catherine Harper)
23rd February 2016

I'm looking forward to reading your blogs about your Camino!
23rd February 2016

What a life!
Thanks Bob for remembering your Mom in a wonderful account of her life and ministry. We appreciate all you did for the family in taking care of her these last years. She was a model servant of Jesus and a great inspiration. It is a great joy to know she is glory-bound and receiving her reward for a life well-lived for Christ's glory.
24th February 2016

A full and happy life
This was a wonderful read - what a full and happy life your mother had, brimming with family, adventures, and of course travel! It seems she made the most of every opportunity she had. I'm sorry for your loss, thinking of you and Linda and your family.
25th February 2016

A full life
I'm sorry to read about your mum, Bob, but at least you can take refuge in the fact that she had a long, full and happy life which, unfortunately, is more than many people can say. This blog was a beautiful tribute to her, lovely photos and lovely words.
28th February 2016

What a wonderful life...
full of love and adventure! Thank you for sharing her story and these wonderful photographs.
29th February 2016

A life well lived
The love and respect you have for your parents is evident in this wonderful tribute. You've been fortunate to select such wonderful parents to guide you in the world and to instill in you the things that are important. You and Linda have made a wonderful life for yourselves and your children and the lessons learned from your parents have been the guide. You need to meet with someone to help you publish a book about all of these wonderful adventures. Your parents were amazing. Please know our thoughts are with you and we will think of your mother in a couple of weeks while we travel Switzerland.

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