Sunday, March 25, 2018

Eulogy for My Dad

As written and delivered, Saturday, March 24, 2018, St. John the Apostle Roman Catholic Church, Linden, NJ:

Many of you know the story of how my father came to the US and gained his citizenship. It’s a long one, with lots of dramatic twists and funny stories, and my sister Theresa does a much better job telling his story in her documentary film about his life, “Every Day Is a Holiday.”

That phrase comes from one of Dad’s sayings after his time as a prisoner of war: "Every day as a free man is a holiday." I didn’t really, truly understand that until my sister, after years of prodding, finally got him to open up and share his story.

We can also see his story in the people who are here today to pay their respects, many who have traveled hundreds (even thousands) of miles, over journeys lasting many dozens of years: fellow veterans and members of the American Legion; classmates from Manhattan College and University of Bologna Medical School; colleagues from the East Orange VA; neighbors and friends from a long life well-lived.

And of course, his loving family.

As we honor Dr. Paul Yokwah Loong and say farewell to him, we remember many things about him: the pains he endured and the sacrifices he made; his kindness, care, and compassion for all those he helped; and most of all, his devotion to God; his steadfast patriotism for his country; and his tireless  love for his family.

My father rarely had a problem falling asleep, and always slept well. He liked to say that the reason was simple: It was because he had a clear conscience.

Dad is at his eternal rest now, and I know he goes there with a clear conscience.

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Why I Haven't Been Around

I've been scarce lately because my dad had a stroke just after Valentine's Day, and I've spent much of the past 3 weeks in a hospital near my hometown trading off days and nights with my family. (Thankfully, my bosses are fine with me working remotely, and the wifi is adequate.)

I'll spare you (and myself) the medical details. After a night in the ER, dad was moved to the Critical Care Unit, surrounded by tubes, wires, sensors, a rotating staff of nurses and doctors, and a general sense of helplessness felt by the rest of us.

A series of tubes.
After a week, he was moved up to a regular room, where we remain (with a brief diversion to sub-acute care until a complication popped up).

Right now, NJ just went through a winter storm (parts of the state got over 2 feet of snow, though our area didn't get nearly that much), so I figured I'd catch up on a few things.

I guess I've been lucky up until now, as even at my age, I haven't had to spend much time in hospitals, either as a patient or a visitor. Though I'm definitely catching up now: Over the years, I guess hospitals figured out that it was better to let a family member stay overnight. Hospitals are disorienting enough as it is; after a while, I was having trouble keeping track of the days.

They're also pretty difficult places to get actual rest, with all the tests, scheduled medications, position changes, and beeping machines. (So much beeping.) A recliner helps, though.

Dad's is pretty much out of the acute phase of things, and we're all trying to figure out what happens next. I won't get into his prognosis, though we're trying to be optimistic and realistic.

Anyway, I figure I'll be spending a whole lot more time in NJ and traveling back and forth. I'm also trying not to commit to anything I can't easily get out of over the next few months.