Some people write with a scalpel. Some people write with a dull knife. Me? I think I ply my small amount of talent with a bludgeon.
Finding out I had a daughter in Thailand who had been born in 1969 was a surprise but not really a shock.
Finding a lost daughter was not a new experience to me. I was employed at 15 years of age on a 46’ racing yacht. After the Chicago to Mackinaw and Port Huron to Mackinaw long distance races we spent a couple of weeks cruising in the waters of Northern Canada.
As a result of one of those cruises and a mechanical failure of a rubber product I found myself in possession of an unwed pregnant 16 year old daughter of an influential family who had a summer estate on one of the remote islands of Georgian Bay where our Sailboat had docked for a couple of nights.
The scene did not bode well for my young life and was finally settled at a table of international lawyers telling me I should feel lucky I was not getting the death penalty.
My father's high priced law firm seemed to echo the same sentiments.
I let the grand poo bahs have their say and way and stopped racing sailboats for two summers to work in an auto factory to pay the bills.
Our child was forcibly removed from her mother and adopted by a family in Quebec.
After 20 some years I found her and introduced her to her two American sisters. Her American sisters were at a young and impressionable age. They both decided to learn to speak French to communicate better with their sister and fell in love with Quebec city and Montreal.
It was good for them all in all because after fluency in two languages the third seems to come easier.
At the time all three looked at me in the eye and asked if they had any other sisters they could look forward to meeting.
I felt a strange mixture of guilt and pride as I confided in my offspring, “for God's sake don’t tell your mother but there is a chance you may have relatives in Thailand or Vietnam.”
I had tried to find out but my only connection in Chiang Mai had sold his business and moved on and Vietnam was a closed door.
I hired seven women in a bar outside of Korat to assist me in moving some supplies just North of Chiang Mai in late 1968. We had agreed on a daily wage which was generous at the time.
It was with some surprise that I received the request for $1000.00 from Yupa at the end of the assignment. Our relationship had not been strictly business but $1000.00 was a lot of money in 1968.
It was a combinations of reasons I gave it to her. 1. I had a lot of money then. Combat pay, flight pay, an allotment going home to the wife and the income from a couple of NCO clubs that I managed in my off duty hours. 2. I spent a few days with her after the completion of our assignment and they were good days and I liked her. So I wrote her a check from the Chase Manhattan bank in Vietnam. I am sure she thought it was phony. I never saw her again. She died in 2004.
Her daughter confirmed her surprise when the check cleared after two months. It is all written in a family history both in Thai and Mandarin. I had spent some time in Taipei and spoke a little Chinese when Yupa knew me. So, she instructed the history to be written also in Mandarin.
For the economists among the readership, do you know what was possible with an investment of $1000.00 in Chiang Mai Thailand in 1969?
For the romantics among the readership, do you know the feelings that course through your heart when you enter a home and encounter a shrine to yourself?
There is a Buddha shrine on the left with all of the images and such and only slightly smaller on the right is an alter which contains a partially filled bottle of Jack Daniels Black, a pack of Kool cigarettes and a boonie hat and three photographs of a buck sergeant in the United States Army in 1968.
Along with my bludgeon style of writing I am not good at making stuff up. I had wondered what I would write about upon living in Thailand. Everything seems to have been overdone. Detectives, Air America, bargirls, so what’s new? I met Tony P but only once hardly enough for a story and I didn’t like the guy and he didn’t like me.
So I guess I will just write about me.
The emails go out to Texas, Florida, Michigan and Quebec. My daughters will start crash courses in Thai and show up with husbands, boyfriends and children. Not because they love and miss their father. They will show up because they are curious.
The old curmudgeon speaks: You know, women don’t really care much about men. But I defy you to find a woman who won’t travel across three continents to meet a new sister.
Airplane tickets, 4 or 5 grand.
The look on my North American daughters' faces when they see two generations of a family wai-ing a shrine composed of a bottle of Jack, a pack of cigarettes and my picture, priceless.
Boy oh boy, you have really lived!