Four years ago my Thai wife died of ovarian cancer. By the time she was accurately diagnosed, the cancer had moved into her lymphatic system. She died the day before my 65th birthday. During the course of a year she changed from a beautiful 38-year-old woman into a living skeleton. She was still beautiful and loving to the end of her short life. The cancer treatments left her bald and horribly sick and weak. During the last visit to the hospital the oncologist told me to take her home and prepare her and myself for the inevitable. No amount of preparation can steel your soul against the pain and loss that follows the death of your loved one. Jiraporn’s family was very attentive to both our needs. During the Songkla Festival the family decided to go on a trip to their relative’s Hamlet. Jiraporn’s Mom and I stayed behind to care for her. That night it was raining hard, blowing rain, driving up against the sides of our house making a constant sizzling sound like bacon in a frying pan.
The rain stopped around 7 pm that night. Jiraporn was sweating profusely and was complaining about being cold. She refused her pain medication. I wrapped her up in a blanket and talked to her about anything I could think of. Anything just to keep her talking and awake. She was slipping away before my eyes and there was nothing I could do about it. Nothing at all. She would not survive the night. All I cared about was keeping her with me for a few more hours. Selfish and greedy, I could not let her go yet. Jiraporn’s mother was sleeping on the sofa in the living room. She had not slept for days, constantly taking care of us with nervous maternal energy. Finally, she collapsed on the sofa from exhaustion.
Jiraporn closed her eyes and began to sleep. I wanted to wake her up and talk to her, but let her sleep. After seeing the constant pain she was in, I wanted to stop her pain. I thought of giving her an overdose of Demerol, but could not bring myself to do it. Later, lying down next to her, I wished with all of my might that God would take me instead of her. A dreamless sleep took me over soon thereafter. Jiraporn was calling my name. I awoke with a start. Jiraporn was barely audible, she asked me to hold her, to talk to her. She was frail and light as a 7-year-old child. I picked her up and held her in my arms and sat down in the rocking chair. She was crying and talking so softly that I had to strain to hear what she was saying. She said she could not feel me, could not see me any more. I talked to her and told her I loved her and gave her a kiss. She managed a weak smile and then the muscles in her faced relaxed. A strange glassy look was in her eyes. She began to gulp snatches of air. She was staring into my eyes and into every fiber, every cell of my being. The life slowly departed her body, not all at once but over time, such as an oil lamp burning the last of the oil in it’s wick with the flame dimming as every drop of fuel is consumed till only wisps of vapor and a tiny smoldering ember remained. I felt death take her, I saw it, and did not understand why.
The moon was up and the moon shadows crept through her flower garden in the back yard. The shadows moved across the yard and lit her flowers with a colorless and cold light. I looked out in the garden and felt nothing. Nothing came to mind, just blackness and moon lit shadows. The frogs began to trill, hoping to find a mate. I remember watching the sun come up, hearing birds singing, the frogs stopped trilling. I remember hearing screams of anguish, not being sure it was Jiraporn’s Mother or I. I remember closing Jiraporn’s dark brown eyes with my fingers, scared I might hurt her if I used too much force. I remember getting up and placing Jiraporn on the bed; she was stiff and cold-a bony and emaciated statue. I remember the wails the family; I remember her 16-year-old daughter Khae curling up in my lap in the rocker and sobbing for hours. Numbness had set in. I could not feel anything. During my life I have seen death a number of times. This time it was different.
I wish I didn’t, but I remember with clarity and detail that tears deep gashes in my soul.
The next week was a blur to me. The funeral pyre and rites from the monks, the chanting and incense. Sitting in front of the house burning a campfire because she might come back to me alive and well. Jiraporn’s mother and Khae forced me to drink and eat. Whisky did not faze me, nor make me feel better. I did not sleep. After 10 days I began to shake violently when I stood, my speech was slurred as if I was drunk; uncoordinated and clumsy. Cold blackness took over when I sat in the ez-chair in the living room. I remember being so angry that my body would betray me. Two days later I awoke. Khae said I had been talking in my sleep constantly for two days. She told me some mumbo jumbo crap about the ghosts talking through me. She said I would yell out in Vietnamese and French and then speak in Thai. Khae was weepy and touchy; anything I said about her mother would set her off into a crying jag. I understood what she was going through. She had lost her Mom; I had lost my wife and the love of my life. You only get one love like that boys, and mine died in my arms when the moon came up after the rain stopped.
Food seems to be a universal comfort offering when someone dies. Jiraporn’s mother and relatives would come over and cook a feast every night and talked about Jiraporn. Quite frankly, I did not want them over, nor did I want to eat. Khae would make pancakes in the morning, she learned how to make them from me and developed fairly good cooking skills from her Mom. I ate her pancakes, but hardly anything else.
A month after Jiraporn died Khae and I went to Bangkok to close Jiraporn’s accounts and go through the legal paper work tangle. I brought Jiraporn’s jewelry with me to put into my safe deposit box. My great-great grandmother’s diamond ring was with the modest amount of baubles Jiraporn had amassed. Some gold chains, the emerald earrings I bought her for our 5th wedding anniversary, a small jade Buddha on an intricate gold chain necklace. As one would expect, the legal crap and red tape was daunting. I had prepared for this and had all the forms and official stamps done earlier to facilitate the matter. Still, it was a challenge with the banking officers, but they relented. Khae would be entering college a year early and I told her that I would pay for her education. Jiraporn made me promise to take care of Khae and to make sure she would stay in college and get her degree. Khae was eight years old when Jiraporn and I married. At first she just regarded me as her Mom’s husband, but then she began to relate to me as her father. I laid down some fairly strict rules for her, which she followed (mostly). Khae’s biological father did a runner when she was two years old. Khae wanted to stay in Bangkok with her cousins; she needed to get away from the house and the memories it held. She wanted to stay away from me for a while to get her bearings. I was Ok with this, but had the father-daughter talk about drugs, drinking, and safe sex. I made her promise to make her future lover use a condom no matter what. This embarrassed the hell out of her, but she made a promise to me and to the memory of her mother.
I stayed in Bangkok for a few days and hooked up with some of my old buddies. Too many ‘sorry to ‘ear that mate’ and ‘I’m so sorry for your loss’ statements were flung at me. Enough. I took the bus back to my home.
At first I thought I was getting old and absent minded: Items around the house began to disappear. The Soligen chef knifes from the silverware drawer, some knick-knacks of Jiraporn’s. When the microwave went missing, I knew that someone had been ripping me off. I talked with Jiraporn’s mother and father about the situation and told them that someone in the family was stealing from me. They seemed not to be concerned about my questions and their general response of ‘mai pen rai’. Never mind?!?! I was getting ripped off and they could care less. My microwave was sitting on their counter by the stove. Ah, to hell with them I thought. I can always buy another microwave.
Later on that month I noticed that my personal belongings had been rifled through. Enough. Locks and window bolts were installed the next day. A bad feeling began to creep into my mind. The family was slowly turning against me. For some time I had noticed that the family had slowly and quietly excluded me from their gatherings, from their holiday celebrations. Questions were asked of me ‘when you go back to America?’, ‘ Why you stay here?’ Obviously they had a plan to get rid of me, to make me feel unwelcome so I would leave. As a few months went by, the statements became more pointed and terse.
My house was built on a small plot of land that Jiraporn owned. It was small, but a nice place, it was mine. I paid for it and was not willing to have her relatives run me off so they could take possession of the house. The atmosphere was getting downright ugly. For the first time since I had been in Thailand, I was afraid for my safety in my own home. Before I met Jiraporn I lived in Bangkok and associated with a bunch of retired military guys like myself. I purchased an old Spanish .32 caliber self-loading pistol from one of my poker buddies when he needed $50 to pay his rent and some bills. The pistol was loaded and ready in my nightstand. I hated what the family was doing to me; they were slowly freezing me out. I began to understand the true nature of Thai people. A farang will always be a farang. We are tolerated, but very few ever make it into the inner circle of the ‘family’. I grew up in New England. If you weren’t born into the community, you were considered an outsider. Thailand takes that notion to a perverse level. Leaving my hamlet or Thailand looked like it was an event that was inevitable.
I met Stasha at a local outdoor restaurant. Stasha is a rotund middle-aged Polish guy who lives close by in another hamlet. He and his wife were planning on building a house. Over a short time we became close friends. They came over and we had dinner together many times. One night Stasha was griping about how much money it would cost to buy appliances and furniture for his house. A flash of inspiration hit suddenly. I told Stasha that I was going to leave Thailand and that he could make me an offer for the furniture, appliances, and household fixtures. After a few hours of haggling, we struck a deal. He even wanted the windows and TV! I sold him my household items for roughly 25% of what I paid for them. A good deal for him and his wife and a great deal for me.
Stasha and his brother-in-law showed up a week later with a truck. They loaded the furniture, appliances and my portable a/c unit onto the truck. Stasha said he would be back in the morning to pop the windows and casings out. After Stasha left, Jiraporn’s uncle came over visibly upset. ‘Why you sell stove, why you sell furniture?!?!’ he demanded. I looked at him and told him ‘because I need money’. He was getting angry and yelled at me ‘Why you sell our house things?!?!’ AH-HA: OUR HOUSE THINGS! He confirmed what I knew all along; they regarded my house as theirs! Time was running out for me so I made reservations for a flight back to the U.S. the next day. I called my brother and told him that I was coming home for a while and needed a place to stay. No problem, come live with him and Phyllis. They had more than enough room since their kids had grown up and moved out. I also called Stasha and asked him to come over early the next morning, I told him of the situation with the family. Stasha wanted me to leave and come over and stay with him and his wife.
Early the next morning Stasha arrived with the truck and his brother-in-law. They took out the windows and casings and the remainder of the furniture from my house. Stasha and his brother-in-law left. Stasha said he would be back in an hour to come get me and drive me to the airport.
Everything of value to me was packed in my three suitcases. Photo albums, mementos, legal paper work. I was ready to leave. Jiraporn’s uncle and two male relatives came over and began to yell at me. Jiraporn’s uncle went berserk and began to gesture wildly at me while screaming in Thai. He began to throw stuff at me. The situation was getting very dangerous. I took off my windbreaker and set it on my bags. They saw the pistol tucked in my waistband and calmed down immediately. I told them to leave immediately. They left without saying anything else. My tolerance limit had been breached. I piled Jiraporn’s clothes, my unneeded clothes and the various cancer cure books from the bookshelf into a heap on the living room floor. I opened my wallet and apologized to the picture of my wife for what I was about to do then dumped several containers of cleaning fluid and kerosene into the pile and waited for Stasha. Everything of any value was taken from the house, either ripped off, or sold by me. It was an empty shell, nothing but memories, nothing but pain for me. I went outside and disconnected the cooking gas bottle from the fitting and dragged it into the brush. I opened up the valve and let the gas bleed off. Stasha was taking forever. 45 minutes seemed like a day. I hated the family for what they had done to me. I hated their naked greed; I hated my wife for dying and leaving me to face the greed of her family. I hated God for allowing my wife to die a horrible death. I hated life. I hated that I was not the one to die and to have my wife live. At that moment I was ready to do something horrible, to myself or to Jiraporn’s uncle and greedy relatives.
Stasha came skidding around the corner from the main road. He was going way too fast and nearly clipped a sawtaw tree on his way over to my house. I thought he had been drinking and was too bagged to drive me into Bangkok. The opposite was true. He was stone cold sober and jumped out of the car. He was really concerned for me because his brother-in-law told him something very bad was going to happen to me. He wanted to leave in a hurry and froze when he saw the pistol in my waistband. I smiled at him and told him that everything was Ok. He loaded my bags into the back of his brother-in-law’s car. I told Stasha that I had to get one last item from the house. I went in and stared at the pile of clothes and worthless cancer cure books. That day I quit smoking. I lit my last cigarette and tossed the pack on to the heap of clothes on the floor. I also tossed my Zippo lighter onto the pile. Walked out, closed the door, threw the keys through a window opening and got in the car to go to the airport. Jiraporn had been after me for years to quit smoking. That day I quit smoking forever. As we were driving away I saw smoke come out of one of the window openings.
Stasha thought I had gone insane. On the way to the airport, I handed him the pistol and told him that it was his to do with, as he wanted. He stuffed the pistol under the front seat and said nothing. Stasha was in the military in Poland, perhaps he could use the pistol for a paperweight. We arrived in Bangkok early; Stasha puts Asian drivers to shame when it comes to lunatic driving. We stopped off at a bar near the airport and had a few drinks. He asked me why I had gone off my nut and torched my house. He asked, so I obliged and told him the whole sordid situation from stuff being stolen from my house, the families ‘mai pen rai’ attitude about the theft and the slow freeze out of me from their family life. I detailed the conversations with the relatives and greedy behavior that ensued after only a few months after Jiraporn’s death. I called Khae, she met us at the bar and was rather distraught that I was leaving and going back to America. I told her what had happened over the past few months. She was my daughter, not by biology, but by shared love of Jiraporn and our life experience together. I gave her Jiraporn’s jewelry sans my great-great grandmother's diamond ring. She didn’t want to take the jewelry. I insisted – it was hers to do with as she wanted. I told her to never sell the emerald earrings and jade Buddha. The funds from Jiraporn’s accounts had been transferred into Khae’s account, plus a little extra from me. The money was for school and that the family was not to be allowed access to her account. She understood. She had enough for four years of college and rental of a reasonable apartment for five years. I gave her a detailed budget plan showing her the how, where, and why of managing her money for school and living. Khae was not happy. She was really pissed at me because I was leaving her. She was angry because I had cut ties with the family. She understood what had happened with her family’s attitude towards me. She was still pissed off at me for leaving. During the eight years we had been together, we had formed a strong father-daughter relationship. She had taken on a Western mindset and was independent enough to make it on her own. She is very intelligent. She is able to hold her own when we discuss Philosophy and Human Nature issues. She would be the only person I would miss when I left Thailand.
I told her that I would be back in the future and that is was now time for her to move into her life without me, without her mother. She was ready, unsure of herself, but she was ready. She wrote down all of her contact information, her college, everything she could think of. I had the information already since we had gone to the University together to get her enrolled and set up with her class schedule. She needed to write all this down. I was not going to refuse her. Within three months she would be in college. She was ready, but terrified of being alone. She had her cousins but it would never be the same as it once was. The old phrase ‘You can never go home’ echoed on my mind. We hugged for an hour at the airport. She was not weepy but rather sullen and sulky. Stasha would check in on her periodically. My flight to Arizona went surprisingly fast. After customs I went out into the reception area. God did this place feel alien to me. Everyone was talking English! I looked around for my brother, didn’t see him so I headed toward the phones to give him a call. Someone tapped me on the shoulder and said ‘Where you going?’ I turned and saw a fat, bald old man. He smiled. My god it was him, my brother Steven! He was unrecognizable to me. ‘What’s up? You walked right past me!’ 10 years had passed since I last saw him; he had turned into an old man. Geeze, he was only 5 years older than me and looked like a geriatric nursing home patient! After the shock wore off, we hugged and left the terminal. Steve asked me how I was handling Jiraporn’s death. It all began to pour out of me. For the first time since my mother’s death, I cried. Steve pulled into a local park and we sat and talked for hours at a picnic bench. Steve is a retired psychology professor and is by nature a person who you could talk to about anything. He also pulls no punches. He told me that I was a downright complete idiot for torching the remainder of my house. Why not let the family have the empty shell? Hatred, hurt feelings, abandonment, exclusion, all that crap was the reason. I was not right with the world; I was not ok with myself. Steve knew this and was ready to be a big brother again.
When we arrived at the house, I went in via the carport door. Phyllis was there, hunched over with a walker. She laughed and ambled toward me and have me a big hug. 10 years had gone by and they had both aged badly. Phyllis was the same age as me and was crippled up with arthritis and a host of other maladies. We sat down and talked into the late evening. Phyllis made pot after pot of coffee. Her coffee is quite good. She and Steve seem to be living on it. Later on, Phyllis excused herself and said she was going to bed. Steve hauled my bags into the spare bedroom and told that I was welcome to stay as long as needed, forever if I wanted. At least I could keep Phyllis off his case about house chores and yard work. How could they sleep after drinking so much coffee? I was jumping out of my skin with caffeine.
I called Khae later that night. She was overjoyed to get my call and began to tell me everything that had happened to her that day, just like a little kid telling Dad about her first day of school. I listened and felt like crap because I had to leave her. We talked for an hour. The family was outraged that I had burned down ‘their’ house. She said that they all were really pissed off at me. Jiraporn’s mother was the only person who was not pissed off at me. She understood me. Khae said that the police were called but that there was nothing they could do since the house did not belong to the family. The land was deeded to them after Jiraporn’s death, but the house remained the property of the owner – Me. Khae told me that Jiraporn’s uncle had already asked her if Jiraporn or I had left any money to her, or if Jiraporn had any bank accounts still open. Khae told him that I had pre-paid her college and room costs for four years. He asked if I had given her any of Jiraporn’s jewelry. She lied and said ‘no’. Good girl! Khae said that she was taken aback by his asshole matter-of-fact attitude and that what belonged to Jiraporn was now his. Khae saw the family through my eyes, if even for a short time. She didn’t like what she saw and talked about it with me.
For me the most painful part of leaving my Thai family was that they knowingly began to freeze me out of any meaningful social interaction within the family-even though I asked questions and tried to re-insert myself into the family. Jiraporn’s mother was powerless to intervene since she was a woman whose duties revolved around the family. As painful as it was, the situation was a real eye opener to me. As a foreigner-A ‘Farang’: I had the status of a ‘Farang’ the family merely tolerated me because I was married to one of their members. When Jiraporn died, the gloves came off and they showed me what they really thought of me as a person and as a member of the family. In Stickman’s reader submissions there are many references to ‘face’ and ‘family honor’ and that the best social level to marry into is the ‘middle class’. It does not matter if you marry a poor Thai girl or a Rich Thai Princess. The end result is that you will always be regarded as a ‘Farang’ no matter the family dynamic or level of social hierarchy. Some families will just barely tolerate you after their daughter has died, some will get hostile and try to force you out of the family, some will even get violent to get their way. This may be an overly broad generalization, but it is mostly true from my experiences and observations.
Six months went by at my brother’s house. The highlight of the week was Friday when Phyllis made Taco Pie and the old Greek neighbors came over for card night, most of the times it was Bridge or Canasta. I counted 38 pill bottles by the kitchen sink. Phyllis and Steve were medicated to the gills. Pills to stop aches, Pills to stop cholesterol, pills to stop heart angina, pills to make you shit, pills to stop you from shitting, pills to sleep, pills to wake up, pills to make you happy, pills to stop the side effects of other pills. There was no way I was going to become a geriatric pill junkie. Walk 5 miles a day to stay in shape was my regimen. I joined a health club; they had the balls to insist I get a doctor's ok certificate before working out. That refusal worked out well because I was able to pound the six-month rate way down because they had discriminated against me because I was a senior citizen. Hell, I did not feel old. I felt out of my element back in Arizona. Everything was too predictable, too tame, and too bland.
A year went by and I was getting tired of American style retired life. Tired of listening to people bitch about their spastic colons, bitch about medicare, bitch about the cost of prescription drugs. I was tired of eating my dinner at 4:00 pm with Steve and Phyllis. I missed sex with my wife.
I found myself drifting into the Asian part of the city during the days. I ate at local Thai and Vietnamese restaurants and began to socialize with some of the local Asian women. They thought it a curiosity that I could speak Thai and Vietnamese. They asked if I fought in Vietnam. Hah, I was stuffed in tiny sweatbox office in Texas translating French and Vietnamese dispatches to English for 5 years during the war. I dated a few Asian women in their 50’s, they were fun and endearing and quite sexual, but they had become too Americanized for my tastes. For a while I was happy and content just to exist. Khae was in school and doing well. She was still unhappy because she was alone in Bangkok, even with a roommate and her cousins. She called me weekly and filled me in on the local news. Sometimes she called to hear my voice, she called so I would re-assure her. My heart ached because of her pain and loneliness. She was all I had left of Jiraporn.
One night after the infamous gut bomb ‘Taco Pie’ I began to evaluate my life while sitting on the crapper. It’s funny how life’s questions get answered while you are dumping a load. Arizona would be a slow and prolonged torturous existence for me. Steve and Phyllis were content to live for card night, Taco Pie, and their grandkids coming over on Sundays. I felt sorry for them. They were so medicated; they let life pass them by. When I was 10 years old, my parents took me to visit my grandparents at an old folks home. I saw despair and sadness, grief and loneliness. I did not understand it at the time. Later on I swore that I would never end up strapped to a bed, crapping all over myself, waiting for someone, anyone to pay attention to me.
My flight was booked for the next evening. I was going to go back to Thailand. Phyllis and Steve were not happy with my decision, they said my place was with them, we were family. I had one remaining family member that needed me more that Steve and Phyllis. Later on in the day Phyllis came out on the patio and talked with me. She said that if I left, she had the feeling that we would never see each other again. She was disturbed that I considered Khae to be part of my family. Racism takes many forms, Phyllis did not want Khae to be part of her family. That was Ok with me. Khae is MY family. The next evening Steve drove me to the airport. He told me that he knew I would go back to Thailand someday. It was a just matter of getting perspective on my life. He dropped me off at the terminal, hugged me and told me to write. Steve is a big proponent of writing letters. The art is disappearing with email and cheap long distance rates.
An hour later I was on my way to Thailand. I arrived at the next day dead-dog-tired and hung over from the free drinks in business class. Took a taxi to the Florida Hotel and showered and called Khae. She talked about her day, how boring the literature courses were and the general news. I asked her if she had eaten dinner yet, she replied ‘No’, she would go out and get something later. I asked her if she wanted to go to dinner with me, she got irritated with me and told me not to tease her because she really missed me. I told her to meet me at the Chitlom station in 30 minutes. Silence on the line: ‘For real Dad?’ I just replied ‘Yep, meet you there in 29 minutes. I’m in Bangkok, see you in 28 minutes, bye’ I hung the phone up and dressed for dinner. Khae was waiting for me when the train came into the station. Tears were dripping off of her face. We walked down the platform. I gave her a bear hug and a kiss on the forehead when no one was around to see. We went to dinner and talked for hours. Before we knew it, it was 3 am. I told her to go back and get some sleep. She needed it to be ready for class. She was going to blow off class that day to spend it with me, but I would not let her slide. She pouted a bit, but knew that I could not be persuaded on that point. I went back to the hotel and slept. For the first time in a year and half, I slept soundly and really felt good inside.
My contacts in real estate in Thailand managed to find a condominium at very good building for a reasonable price. Khae was there with every spare moment she had. She told me she was afraid I would leave again and leave her by herself. She was growing up fast, but was still a little girl in so many ways. In retrospect, she really needed a parent when I originally left. I was so mired in my own grief; I could not see her pain and suffering. She wanted to make sure I was here to stay. She needed me and I needed her. When we met her friends, she introduced me as her father. Some of her girlfriends giggled and talked to each other in Thai: ‘I didn’t know her father is a farang’ ‘How many more children does he have?’ ‘Does he understand Thai?’ I just smiled and nudged Khae. She giggled and told them that her father spoke Thai and could understand what they were saying. Poof! -Immediate bursts of giggles and blushing on all of the girls’ faces. Ah, what I would not give to be 19 again!
Khae told me that she would not tell her ‘other’ family that I was back in Thailand. Good, leave the cretins to their greed. I wanted nothing to do with them, except for Jiraporn’s Mother, but if she new I was in Bangkok, the entire family would know. I do not need to deal with them ever again. Too much bad blood. A few weeks after I bought my condominium, I placed an ad for a housekeeper. Out of 117 responses, I selected 5 and interviewed the women. Two were obvious bargirls, tattooed to the hilt and looking for a sugar daddy. One was a jaded housewife looking for extra money, one was a divorced woman that wanted a part time job, and one was a professional maid moonlighting from the Dusit Thani. The divorced woman looking for part time work was my choice. Tui is her name. Tui would come over twice a week and clean the condo, wash my clothes, do the household chores. For 200 baht per time, it was a good deal for me. For Tui it must be a dream job: 2-3 hours work for 200 Baht! Not as much as a prostitute, but at least she made her living by working a decent job and not sponging off her kids!
Khae came over when Tui was cleaning one day and was surprised to see another woman in the condo. She asked me who the woman was. When I told her that it was my maid, she had a meltdown! She ran out of the condo crying and did not return my calls for a few days. Khae came over a few days later in the late evening. She had her ‘We need to talk NOW Dad’ face on. She asked my why I hired a maid. I told her that I needed someone to clean up and do laundry. Khae was angry at me because she considered it her job to take care of me, to clean up, do laundry, be a good daughter. After a while she let me talk again: She was in college and that every minute of time was to be spent in class, avoiding boys, studying, or sleeping, and that I could take care of myself. I was here to stay, not going to leave again. Khae is horribly jealous of anyone other than herself in my life, she is becoming a Thai woman; Khae is also becoming a mirror copy of her mother, which pleases me and also concerns me deeply. Her mother used to shamelessly guilt-trip Khae at every available opportunity. At 20 years old, Khae is more mature than most 35 year old women I know, but she is still 100% Thai and has the thought patterns and hormones of a 20 year old Thai girl, even if my time with her has changed her vantage point to a western view. In the long run Khae accepted Tui and managed to wrangle her jealousy back into the green bottle.
Tui has become more than a maid. She has become my lover. At 46 years old, she does not have many prospects in her future. Tui talked of love and marriage one night after sex. I told her of Jiraporn and that I could never love a woman that deeply again, and that marriage would never happen for me again, just too much pain. Tui understood and accepted that fact. She accepts me for what I am, nothing more. Tui spends more time with me than her family. She’s gets a small weekly salary for the work she does, cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping. She’s happy just being a housewife. Tui is a pretty woman for her age, slim, not beautiful, just average. Her personality is truly Southern Thai. She takes care of me like a husband. She is content being with a man who will not beat her or cheat on her. I am content with her as a housekeeper, cook, and lover. I want to personally thank the chemists for creating Viagra. They did the world a needed service by creating this little blue pill. Tui does not know about my use of Viagra, she just thinks I am a very horny old farang all the time. She does not seem to mind my behavior one tiny bit. So what if the laundry does not get done until tomorrow? I’m in no hurry.
My holidays are spent with Khae and her friends. Weekdays are spent with Tui, but not with her family. Life goes on. People leave. Situations change.
Sometimes when the moon rises I feel Jiraporn’s touch, I hear her voice. I smell her scent. When the rains come I dream of her dancing in the flower garden in the moonlight. I Dream of her in her rocking chair softly singing old Thai love songs to me.
Late at night my memories and pain sometimes drive me to think of death again. Sometimes I regret giving Stasha my pistol. My health is good and I have a good life for the time being. Nothing lasts forever except my love for Jiraporn and Khae. Khae is the only person keeping me here in this life. Turning 69 did not bother me, I don’t celebrate my birthdays any more. Steve died in his sleep a year ago, Phyllis had a stroke and died a month after Steve. Most of my older friends have died off also. I lift my nightly three shots of Bourbon whiskey to their memories. They were all kindred souls to me. Take it from me lads, find the right woman and live your life by the day. The end will come much quicker than you will expect. As the polka song says “There is no beer in heaven, that’s why we drink beer today”.
Jiraporn’s bamboo rocking chair is the only piece of furniture I kept. When I die, it will be part of my funeral pyre, unless Khae wants it. When I die Khae will get the proceeds from the sale of my great-great grandmothers diamond ring. I had it appraised when I was in Arizona. Khae will never need to worry about money, neither will her children. I won’t break my promise to Jiraporn.
There is little to say. This is one of the very best submissions sent to this site and it tugs on the emotions.
I'm sure Khae will develop into a fine woman.
For what its worth, I think your decision making and actions are first class, and totally on the money. Burning down the house brought a wry smile to my face.