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Published: February 22nd 2016
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
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, Cambodia...no 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!
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