Friday, December 20, 2013

Papa ... 45 years ago today

December 20, 1968 .... it was 45 years ago today, when my father's spirit was set free. Every time I hear the music, 'Little Drummer boy' I return to memories that are as fresh as yesterday. Our family traveled to Barnes Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri from Thailand after my mother was told my father was dying. She was desperate to do everything she could to save his life ... and yes, doctors in America could do that .. of that she was convinced. I was 4 years old at the time, and I remember playing with my Etch a Sketch game in the corner of his hospital room. My mom and I lived at the hospital for several months. It used to be there was accommodations next to Barnes Hospital for family, a place called Queeny Towers. I was too young to go to school yet, so I got to spend all my time with my mom and my Papa. I don't think I really understood what was going on, why Papa couldn't carry me around like he used to. But I remember always feeling safe because he was there. I remember how I knew nothing bad would every happen to me because my Papa would save me. When the older kids back home in Thailand wouldn't let me play with them because I was too young, I would some times cry and run into the bathroom and lock the door. No one could get me open the door, except Papa.

And now, 45 years later, the memories that remain with me are of his calm, loving, gentle, quiet and kind spirit. He was my rock, my pillar, my strength. I tell myself that everything in life happens for a reason. Maybe it's just my way to come to peace with things I have absolutely no control over; my way to accept circumstances and situations that hurt and shred my heart to pieces; my way of learning to walk on ground that never feels solid, and to move in a world where the only thing I know I can count on, is uncertainty and change. I closed my heart at a very young age, and I looked everywhere to try to fill the emptiness in my heart ... striving for perfection, alcohol, sports. We never talked about the loss of Papa. The messages I heard as a child were emotions weren't okay and that 'the sign of an educated person is self control.' And so I held everything in, and at the young age of 9, was also the victim of
Legacy and Ahnung - Photo by Sarah Beth Photography
sexual abuse (a close family friend who was also a Catholic deacon) and carried that secret with me till December, 2008. It was in December, 2008, my first Christmas with Ahnung while I was up at Red Lake Reservation, and had been dealing with flashbacks of the abuse and nightmares, that I was finally able to write a letter to my family and to set myself free from a secret that had chained me down. It was Ahnung, my north star, who led me out of the darkness. I believe my Papa brought Ahnung into my life, to help me move to the next stage of my healing. I believe he brought  Ahnung to also walk with me along my health journeys ... I also believe he brought Ahnung to me, and that I am alive today, because Ahnung took the cancer from my body, and disease plaguing my pancreas ... and I believe Ahnung chose Legacy knowing she would be leaving this world and wanting me to feel joy and happiness because Legacy is Joy! And it was Ahnung, guided by my Papa, who taught me how to keep my heart open; to learn to walk through grief and loss in a new way; to embrace all my emotions and to stop running from the pain. And even from the spirit world, Ahnung continues to watch over me by leading me to Ishkode so that my heart can heal. In 2011, Ahnung was diagnosed with cancer and I was diagnosed with a rare heart disease. I knew then that Ahnung's time was limited. I was also told, it could be a year, 2 years, maybe 10 years before my heart would start showing symptoms from the disease, leading to heart failure. We began a new walk, a new journey, a new way of being and appreciating every moment we had together. And today, December 20, 2013 ... 45 years after losing Papa, I know that Ahnung is with Papa. It was time for her to move on to the spirit world; it was time for her to join Papa.

I don't know when my time will come to join them. Some day, I know I will be joining Papa, and Ahnung, but until then, I will continue to do all I can to quiet my spirit and my soul, so I can listen ... and so I can be guided by their spirits. Until then, please continue to guide me in the work I am doing ...

I miss you Papa. I miss you Ahnung.

Ishkode (means 'fire' in ojibwe - October, 2013)


  1. I sit with tears reading your beautiful tribute to a wonderful man and a beautiful spirit filled Ahnung and your struggles with the pain of abuse and sadness. It is so beautifully said that to release the chains of pain, you must first acknowledge it and let it go. I believe the source of many illnesses come from the stress of tamping down the spirit and not allowing us to feel emotions. You said it well when you said that self control was important to your family, but that led to you denying the feelings of loss and you were not allowed to experience these emotions and so you never grieved. You finally came to the point in your life through the help of Ahnung, that you were able to let it go and by going on your journey you let yourself be free of the painful and hurtful things that happened to you. Your body healed. I will pray for you and pray that you live a long life for the newest spirit in your life, Ishkode, she needs you. Perhaps that is the message to you, that your Papa and Ahnung sent you another spirit angel to watch over you and keep you healthy.

    1. Thank you for your beautiful words and for taking time to comment .... and yes, i hope to watch little Ishka grow up and to touch as many hearts as Ahnung did :)