I never thought we would be spending the six month anniversary of our move to Thailand back in NorCal. It was another test of our move, the departing promise to our aging parents . . . “if you need us, we can be there in 24 hours”. Frank got the call from his mother, mid morning Thailand time, with news of Evert’s fall. He was being life-flighted to a trauma center. That same day after the girls got out of school, I took all 3 of them to the airport, SFO bound on two different flights.
Frank made it back in time for some important decisions and to say goodbye. Although Evert carried the often undervalued title of step father, he bequeathed upon my dear husband some of the qualities of character that I most value; those strengths that make him a great father, husband and life partner. Evert will leave a substantial void in the lives of those close to him. For me, he was my adult-life father. For Frank, he was the role model who lived the life of a compassionate moral compass, one of the first descriptions I would use for my dh, the quality that makes them both unique men. Evert wasn’t happy about our move, and worked hard to hide his sadness at our departure, but he understood it completely, and he supported us in every way.
The girls were already planning to come back to NorCal to be with friends, a Christmas present they earned for being such troopers on this new family adventure. They also made it back in time to say goodbye to their grandfather. I stayed behind in Chiang Mai a few days until our house sitters arrived, but we all made it back in time for Christmas. I can’t think of a better tribute to Evert (Papa), for the entire family to be together for Christmas, his favorite night of the year with his favorite things, family, good food, good wine; he was with us in spirit and around all of our necks in the form of a Christmas tie, a tribute to the one he wore every year for that special dinner (thank you, Laurie, for that incredibly thoughtful gesture).
As we work to help the family through the holidays, I realize that I am homesick. I’m homesick for Thailand. I miss our new life. I miss our rural village, our jungle home with my 2 girls, 2 dogs, 2 cats, and only one husband. I miss the challenges of everyday life that, even in my 50’s, with every success and failure, give new depth to my new persona; My new “double-life”, the one I can’t come close to describing in small talk, the one I hope to share with some family and friends in 2016. Evert understood that we needed this move to grow, learn and discover. He would have been grateful for our return visit, but the first to tell us to go, to go back home.
2015 was a year for the record books. The first half was the most stressful on record for everyone in the Lange household, full of difficult decisions, heartache, fear and a lot of tears. The second half, was full of adventure, discovery and hope. I look to 2016 with even more excitement and so much hope, not just for my girls who are just starting out on this life of adventure and discovery, but for Frank and me, also starting out on a “same, same, but different” path, emboldened by those who inspired us and made us who we are. We’ll miss you, Evert.