Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Very Tragic Personal Annivesary

Today is a deeply sad and tragic anniversary for me. It was one year ago on this date that I went to buy some gas for my new motor scooter and was going to go to DMV at Lloyd Center to replace my temporary trip permit with a regular license plate for my bike. I stopped home for a few minutes to check on my parents to see if either of them needed anything before I intended to leave for about an hour to get the license plate, but my mother alarmed me that my father was having some sudden serious health problems. You could see that his mouth trembling and he could not speak. He was having a massive stroke. And then suddenly his heart must have stopped. There was nothing that could be done to revive him while we waited for the Portland Fire Department to assist, but it was too late even for their efforts as well. My father, who was 78, was dead.

My father had been suffering from bad health for a few months, and was in the hospital twice in the month before all of this. I had become the full time care giver to two ailing parents, who were mostly bedridden for the most part, although my mother was able to sometimes go to the store or doctor with me, but needed the support of a shopping cart or wheelchair to get about.

What was so deeply sad about the death of my father was that it only seemed to create deep distress for my mother's fragile health and by late October, only just over 90 days later, she died as well. A little dachshund, named Samuel Fudge, was their constant companion and stayed right by their bedside during all their final days. This little angel gave them both comfort and joy as well as additional company whenever I wasn't attending to them and feeding them or providing something for them. This beloved little dog companion died of heart failure only three days after my mother died, on Halloween day. That was a real tough week, losing my mother on Monday and the family dog on Thursday. It suddenly was only me and some cats at the house. My life was suddenly very empty, and many bad events followed as I struggled through a long period of probate and burned up most of my available liquid cash to pay bills not covered by the estate. There were also tough problems with renters taking advantage of my parents death, and they either stopped paying the rent or in one case did $70,000 damage to a rental home, leaving me with some real problems to deal with that were both expensive and troublesome. Life became very tough after the death of both parents for me to hold things together for their behalf as I knew they would have wanted me to. In the cold of Winter, the roof at one home collapsed from old age and dry rot during a heavy rainstorm, leaving me with a bill for $44,000 for a complete roof rebuild. Serious problems after my parents death just never seemed to take a day's rest it seemed.

It may have been a deeply challenging of a task for me having to care for two ailing and elderly parents, where I had to bring both to a doctor's office in two wheelchairs taking one upstairs, and then going back to get the other. But compared to losing both of them, I'd rather have to care for both parents for years and years.

All I have left to remember my parents by is the folded flag from my father's military service in Korea in 1950, and a cross from my father's casket as well as one from my mother's casket.

My father was a cook at prisoner of war camp in Pusan, Korea. He appreciated this instead of having to kill or be killed on some frontline where it was not only really cold, but bayonet charges were common place by throngs of Chinese Communist soldiers. My father was pleased that at least these Chinese prisoners would someday be able to return home to their families when the war ended and would be well fed and treated by their American captors. Life as a POW for these Chines prisoners were probably far better than their life ever was as a Communist soldier.

My father also had no objections working in an army kitchen with African American soldiers as his fellow workers and always got along very well with these coworkers, back in an era where few Whites in the military had evolved beyond an early 50's viewpoint founded in segregation or racism. My father was always very respectful of the Korean people and treated them as an equal as well. My father was very disappointed at any American soldier who didn't respect the Korean people as a full equal to them. My father had no use for racism. It also disappointed my father so much when some American soldiers chose to use some young Korean women as a prostitute, offering them just a dollar for sex. My father was disgusted with all of this, and considered many Americans failed to honor their country by their horrible conduct in Korea. The Korean people who my father knew were deeply sad when left Korea and his service was up because he was so beloved by so many of them.

My father wanted the soldiers on the base to have a good Christmas, so he asked some officer if he could dye an extra cook's uniform red and create a Santa suit and give out small gifts to both the American soldiers and Koreans as well, When one officer saw what a wonderful thing this proved to be, he was deeply jealous of all of this and wished that he could have been in charge of this. Both the American soldiers as well as Koreans thought that this was wonderful. In fact, the Koreans thought that this was a wonderful Christian tradition, and today Christian churches are very common in South Korea as many of the Korean people saw enough positive in some Christian American servicemen that they began to accept the Christian religious faith as a positive for their own lives.

My father was a decent and honorable man, and I'm very proud to display his folded flag from his military service in Korea. His role was what you would hope that all American soldiers would display compared to some of the awful conduct at places like Abu Ghraib, which sickened my father. And completely offended his values on the proper conduct of soldiers. My father always believed that you were an ambassador of the U.S., and should always even treat an enemy POW with respect and human dignity. They are indeed another creation of God as well.

My father was an entirely honorable soldier. He was also a wonderful dad. And in his late years when I had to take care of him and mother, he always appreciated anything I did to help and only became more difficult to deal with in his final days when his his health was very bad. God bless you dad. I miss you so much.


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