Letter from Kathleen to Larry About the Reunion
Date: Mon, 21 Oct 2002
Subject: Happy Birthday To Me!
I picked up the mail yesterday morning and to my great joy, your letter with photographs was amongst my otherwise bland allotment. 20 October was my birthday and seeing the 58-ers in Thailand again was the best present I could have received. You are really a wonderful guy! Thank you so much.
I cannot share any pictures as you suggested because I didn't take any. I just carried my heavy camera around the world and back. I started to try to get some candid shots, but it seemed that we were taking photos of people taking photos--everyone was quicker than I was and so I became a souvenir snapshot drop out.
When Peter posted his wonderful scrapbook on a website, I wanted to try to compose my thoughts and write about the reunion, but then I became self-conscious and wondered how meaningful it would be. [The pictures were weighing in at a thousand words each.] The reunion was such a profound experience for me--I loved Peace Corps so much and I think everyone who participated probably felt similarly in some capacity. I was disappointed that more of our comrades weren't there, especially with respect to those who actually live in Thailand. It is completely comprehensible to me, however; perhaps had I not taken an early retirement from IOM, I couldn't have made it myself. Life is complicated. The intuitive Geoffrey said to me, "I knew EXACTLY who would be here and I was correct in every case but one...I thought Glen Kopp would be present." Reflecting, his observation made complete sense--some are mathematicians some are carpenters'! wives...
Speaking just for myself, I felt such a strong bond with everyone in our group (an affinity with some, affection for others, respect for a few) and a sense of patriotism for Thailand (lacking a better word) that my life without our reunion would have been diminished. My perception was that no one had changed and Thailand was a magical as ever. It was a grand mirage. The one saving grace regarding those in absence was that you had been a superb Shelock Homes and had the low down on our whole cast of characters...I think you should consider a sideline as a private detective. Again, you are so terrific for having the energy, wit and tenacity for gathering and sharing the details that make life interesting. Chapeaux, Larry!!
Yes, as you mentioned, I knew that your wife, Yao, and your daughter, Marie, had decided to embark on their own version of the Peace Corps experience and were residing in Thailand. For the sheer education...i.e. language, culture, technical training...that they will receive, I hope your family can endure the separation. I know that you will soon reunite either in Wisconsin or Thailand and have 2 places you call home. Day to day it must be a little difficult. Please give them both my fondest regards.
For myself...what to say? After visiting Cambodia (Ankor Wat) the combination of monsoons and air conditioning gave me my favorite disease (bronchitis, but not pneumonia) and I can no longer proclaim, "I haven't been sick since leaving Switzerland." Fortunately, I flew Royal Thai and my request ("Give me any drugs you've got!") yielded results.
After I recovered, I launched into the condo-renovation process and here we are three months on. There are only a few projects remaining before I can move in. Truthfully, my brother, Tom, has handled the real challenges. Building contractors require an assertiveness training course all their own...next time someone spits sunflower seeds all over my floor, I'll know what to do; likewise when someone yells: Mrs. Hamilton, your bidet has arrived...
Larry, I had a truly excellent birthday celebration (my birthday has never been my favorite occasion--again squirming shyness) and so your photos set the tone. I took your note to our family gathering and everyone was thrilled to see the folks they had met so long ago: Ilze & Geoffrey, in particular, and have the opportunity to talk about Thailand. Thank you again.
Are you falling asleep yet at this long message? You probably had to read it in shifts. By all means also send my regards to our PCV network. They must have been the beneficiaries of your generosity as well. I gave myself the gift of joining "Friends of Thailand" and hope to stay in the loop a little better.