A Thai Man Falls Hard
This story is about a Thai man that I don't know. I cannot be certain that I even have this story correct, although I think I have a good understanding about him and the point of this story. My wife told me about him and what his experience was.
She should know him well as this man is her ex-husband. My wife is very truthful and straight up so I have no reason to believe this was anything but totally honest. When she told me about him it hit hard and I think this story needs to be told
so I will do my best.
The call from Thailand came early in the morning to our Midwest American home. I think it was about 5:30 AM here which would be about 6:30 PM in Thailand. It is the kind of call that is a parent's worst nightmare. In our dark moments we may think about such a call but quickly remove it as it is just too painful to ponder. My wife's grown son had been critically injured in a motorcycle accident and was not expected to survive. She spoke to her sister from a fetal position on the floor, crying and overcome by her pain at the news of her son. He was her baby. Her only son, and very much a mother's boy like many Thai men.
I sat and watched her take this phone call with a sinking feeling that there was nothing I could do to help her and make things alright. My mind was racing to try and think of something but I came up empty. I hope I never live to see and feel what I did then. There are not any words that will help. All that can be said is that you are sorry but that does nothing to soften the pain. I went to the medicine cabinet and got a Valium for her thinking that we could at least postpone the worst until she could fly back to Thailand. The medication worked and had something of a Zombie effect on her. She would board the plane for Thailand in about 20 hours and so she could get a bit of relief until she got to Thailand and met her family so I sent a few tablets with her. Although I have an excellent relationship with her and her family she wanted to go alone. I had to respect her wishes.
Not long after she arrived in Thailand I received a phone call from her that her son was gone. I had previous conversations with her sister so it was not unexpected. Again I told her how very sorry I was with the knowledge that my words would provide little comfort. I felt like shit although I finally convinced myself that I really could do nothing. After spending about 2 months attending to her son's funeral and spending some time with her family she returned. It was her story about her ex-husband and the father of their son that I learned something of this man's experience.
My wife had went straight to her son's hospital bed and stood by him talking to him and touching him gently as he lay very close to death. She spoke words of love and comfort to him although he was not conscious. Later she discovered that her son's father had not been to see his son. The family had been there around the clock and was certain he had not been there. Determined that her son needed a visit from his father she went to his home. She found him curled in a corner in his room and he had apparently been crying for a long time. He was unkempt and had not eaten. She put her hand on his shoulder quietly asking him to come see his son. At first, he pushed her hand away but she wouldn't accept his rejection. She told him that he must go because “XXXX (son's name) is waiting for you.” He agreed and followed my wife's taxi to the hospital on his motorcycle.
My wife and her family left him alone with his son as life slowly slipped away from him. She returned to his bedside after his father left. Within minutes the monitors that were reporting XXXX's condition begin to slow. The beeps from the monitor were gradually slowing as he slipped away. Within about 5 minutes my wife saw the straight line and heard the continuous sound of the monitor that announced he was gone. She stayed with him for a time and watched the color of his face slowly change to a grayish hue. It was finished. Her beloved son was gone.
The ex husband could have been a poster boy for the banter “Thai man no good.” While they were together he only worked sporadically, and would drink heavily almost daily. Full of anger he would attempt to beat her, although she fought back. She did manage to get him to stop drinking. A friend gave her what I believe to be Antabuse, used to treat alcoholism, which she added to his drink. This medication produces sickness when combined with alcohol. She would add this medication to his whiskey drink every few days until he decided he could not drink anymore. She later confessed what she had done to him but be didn't believe her, attributing his sickness to a bad heart. The ploy worked and he stopped drinking although the angry outbursts continued, the beatings stopped. My wife says to this day he never drinks. Certainly this is much better for this man and those around him.
My wife, with her family's encouragement, separated herself from this man while their 2 children were still young. The angry outbursts, beatings and a general lack of interest in his family sealed his fate. He was not happy with the separation and tried to manipulate his way back without success. It was indeed finished for her but not their children. She tried so many times to arrange time for him to see his children but whenever she talked to him the results were angry outbursts and arguments. No financial support was expected due to his chronic unemployment. Still, he had little interest in his children. Only sporadically appearing after long periods of time. He was not even a small part of their lives as they grew into young adults.
When his son's body was moved to a temple for funeral ceremonies he sat outside not entering the room where people were gathering to say their goodbyes. Family members of my wife went outside to encourage him to come in and participate. These good people were willing to set aside any bad feelings for him and were very kind understanding that the loss was his too. He agreed and entered the temple where he was received with respect and dignity.
My wife had a long conversation with her ex sometime after the funeral. He had lost his arrogance and was soft spoken, without anger and aggressiveness. He told her how much he regretted not being a part of their son's life. He was a broken man, with intense sadness and self doubt about how he treated his children. His son was gone and there was nothing he could due to fix his past mistakes with him. At age 50 this man looked at himself in the mirror and didn't like what he saw. She felt sorry for him, but realized he had made his own decisions and would need to live with them. She suggested that they still had a daughter that needed a father and he could begin again with her. They had become estranged some time ago however, now an adult, she agreed to give him a chance. They spoke again before she left Thailand to return to America. His tone was gentle and polite when he wished her well.
I guess I was a little surprised to hear my wife tell this story. I would think that there would have been some face saving posturing here. Apparently there is none of that. This man was totally deflated by regret and remorse. It is my hope for him that he is able to really be a father to his daughter.
It's nice to see that he had regret. With regret hopefully comes understanding and appreciation of the situation and change can be made.