September 26, 2023

Completely happy Mom’s Day! I hope you had weekend with the moms in your life. There was a warmth wave in Portland so we principally hid out at residence. Oh, RB40Jr had an Final Frisbee recreation on Sunday morning. It was sizzling and windy. The children had a horrible recreation, however that’s life. You win some, you lose some. After the sport, we simply acquired dim sum to eat at residence and spent the remainder of the day watching motion pictures. We had a pleasant household weekend. However, I’m a bit unhappy this Mom’s Day. My mother handed away just a few weeks in the past after a protracted battle with dementia. I’m nonetheless grieving, but it surely’s a aid in a approach. She was within the hospital for the final 6 months. Her thoughts, physique, and spirit have been very weak. It was troublesome to see her like that. Not less than, she gained’t need to undergo anymore. She had Lewy Physique dementia and this situation solely worsened with time. Sadly, there isn’t any treatment.  

Anyway, I’d wish to inform you somewhat bit about my mother immediately. RB40Jr can learn this when he’s older. He was very unhappy once we acquired the information. They spent numerous time collectively when he was younger. My mother’s title is Benjamas. That’s Thai for the chrysanthemum flower. Her mates and households name her Ben. That is completely tremendous in Thailand, however threw folks for a loop within the U.S. as Ben isn’t a typical feminine title.


Ben was born within the slums of Bangkok in 1948. She was the third baby in a household of 9 kids. That’s unthinkable immediately. Right here, I’m pondering one child is tough. Wow, 9 children! The three oldest kids have been feminine they usually helped elevate the remainder of the youngsters. The household shared one room in these early years.

Her dad and mom immigrated from China to discover a higher life in Thailand. Her mother (my grandmother) sewed burlap sacks for just a few satangs every. (100 satangs = 1 baht.) Her dad was a instructor in China, however turned a day laborer once they moved to Thailand. He began a material enterprise and improved their way of life considerably in subsequent years.

Ben was a vivid child. She handed the doorway examination and was the primary in her household to attend school. She majored in utilized statistics at NIDA and went on to get an MBA. This was fairly an achievement again in these days. There have been just a few universities then and solely a handful of ladies acquired a Grasp’s diploma. She impressed her youthful siblings to observe swimsuit they usually all graduated from a college.

Household life

Ben met Will (my dad) when she was in school. He was the president of the pictures membership at Chulalongkorn College. Ben’s uncle had a pictures store they usually met there. After school, they acquired married and moved to Chiang Mai. Ben turned a professor at Payap College and finally the top of her division. In the meantime, my dad began a collection of companies. He offered Tupperware, began a hen farm, a pig farm, a duplicate & printing retailer, after which an equipment retailer. We had a cushty life in Thailand, however that might change…

My dad expanded the equipment retailer too shortly and the enterprise failed. He owed some huge cash to the financial institution and we misplaced all the pieces. With no financial savings, he got here to L.A. to go to his sister and determined to remain. He offered Buddha amulets to the Thai expat group and did numerous menial jobs to make ends meet. Ben needed to determine whether or not to remain in Thailand and lift 3 children by herself or immigrate to the U.S. and begin over with nothing. Household was all the pieces to her so she gave up her profession, standing, and steady way of life to maintain the household collectively. This was fairly loopy. What number of of you’d sacrifice a good profession to turn into a dishwasher in a very new surroundings? Her levels and work historical past meant nothing within the U.S. and she or he labored restaurant jobs for a few years.

Immigrant once more

She went to work at an Italian restaurant and was fired simply after just a few days. Her English wasn’t ok and she or he didn’t know the Italian elements. After that, she labored in a pizza restaurant washing the dishes and serving to out within the kitchen. My dad delivered pizza for $6 an hour.

5 of us shared one room in my aunt’s home for a few years. Jeez, a giant household in a single room once more. We moved to an house after my aunt moved again to Thailand. These have been powerful years for me. My dad and mom didn’t make a lot revenue and we lived frugally. I keep in mind all of us went to place door hangers for the Pizza restaurant to make some more money. We collected cans too. They made sufficient to outlive, however the future was fairly bleak on the time.

After a number of years of grubbing alongside, Ben noticed an advert within the Thai group newspaper. A small restaurant was on the market for $10,000 in Newbury Park, CA. It was about an hour’s drive from the place we lived. At that time, my dad was working the graveyard shift at a gasoline station in Hollywood. He was drained and didn’t wish to drive to see the restaurant. Nevertheless, my mother stored pestering him to do it. He gave in and drove as much as see the restaurant. My dad walked by way of the place and mentioned let’s go for it. They offered Ben’s jewellery to pay 30% upfront. Then they paid the remaining in installments.

The Thai restaurant was one other turning level of their lives. It was the one Thai restaurant within the small city they usually turned it into enterprise. Ben and Will labored within the kitchen and delivered meals. The children took orders, served, wash dishes, and helped prep. It was a real household restaurant. This enterprise enabled them to purchase a home and put 3 children by way of school. After about 10 years, they offered the enterprise and moved again to Thailand in 2000. The restaurant was too troublesome to run with out the youngsters.

Thailand to the US to Thailand

In Thailand, my dad began a Buddha casting enterprise. He and his associate made and offered many bronze Buddha statues. Ben helped run the enterprise they usually had decade. Ben’s mother acquired sick throughout this era and she or he went to look after her. She was blissful to spend so much of time together with her mother in her last yr.

In 2014, Ben determined to maneuver again to the U.S. to be together with her sons and grandchildren. She lived with us for 9 months of the yr and with my brothers the remainder of the yr. These have been the simple years for my mother. She relaxed, exercised, and helped maintain the grandchildren. It was retirement for her. We had numerous enjoyable exploring Portland and loved many free occasions. This was earlier than Portland went to hell in a handbasket.

Sadly, these comfy years didn’t final lengthy. In 2018, Ben was recognized with gentle cognitive impairment. She had hallucinations and did many unusual issues. She was sharing a room with RB40Jr, however we needed to change the association after an incident. In the midst of the night time, she spanked our son whereas he was sleeping. She mentioned he was possessed and she or he wanted to chase the ghost out. RB40Jr got here operating into our room crying. After that, RB40Jr slept in my room and I slept in his room.

We couldn’t go away Ben alone as a result of we couldn’t belief her. One time when she was alone, she couldn’t open the door to exit. She known as 911 and mentioned she was imprisoned. Thankfully, I acquired residence earlier than the police arrived and cleared it up. On the finish of 2018, we determined Ben wanted to maneuver again to Thailand. I couldn’t look after her and RB40Jr on the similar time. Additionally, I didn’t wish to put her in a nursing residence within the U.S. Her English was regressing and she or he would have a tough time speaking.


RB40Jr and I helped Ben transfer again to Thailand on the finish of 2018. My dad didn’t imagine she had dementia. He thought it was some type of psychological drawback and he would repair it. Sadly, that wasn’t the case. Her situation worsened and my dad took on the accountability of caring for her.

Lewy Physique dementia is a mixture of dementia and Parkinson’s illness. Her mobility worsened over time and she or he misplaced her capacity to stroll in 2022. She was very stiff and couldn’t steadiness. Her fingers tightened into claws. Her reminiscence was additionally degrading. She remembered outdated stuff, however couldn’t retain any new reminiscences. She wouldn’t keep in mind if she had a meal after 5 minutes. Thankfully, she nonetheless knew her household and she or he was at all times blissful to see us.    

Dementia is the worst. It robs you of all the pieces.

Over the previous few years, I traveled to Thailand typically to spend extra time together with her. I knew time was brief. Individuals with Lewy Physique dementia sometimes survive 5 to 7 years after the prognosis.

In October 2022, Ben acquired a lung an infection and checked into the hospital. It was the twond time she checked into the hospital that yr. She recovered from the an infection, however all the pieces else worsened dramatically. She couldn’t transfer in any respect they usually put in a feeding tube, oxygen tube, and a catheter. It was surprising how weak she appeared once I arrived final November. She was so frail.

I satisfied my dad to take out the feeding tube. My brothers and I didn’t assume the feeding tube was useful. It’s higher to eat what she might. She developed a horrible bedsore as a result of she couldn’t transfer. It was bone-deep and appeared very painful. We acquired an alternating strain air pad and turned her typically, however the bedsore acquired worse.

Her oxygen degree would get low with out the oxygen tube. Her physique simply didn’t operate that nicely anymore. I left with a heavy coronary heart in February. I knew it might in all probability be the final time I noticed my mother. In April, she developed a fever and her oxygen degree dropped. The physician beneficial a ventilator, however we refused it. A few nights later, she fell asleep and handed away. My dad stayed together with her on the hospital for six months and did his greatest for her. We’re all very grateful.

Don’t wait

We donated her physique to Chiang Mai College for medical research. That’s her final good deed. They’ll cremate the stays in 3 years and we will go decide up the ashes. I’ll in all probability go to Thailand then.

Life is brief. I believed my mother could be with us for a lot of extra years, however her time was minimize brief by dementia. All of us love her and miss her this Mom’s Day. Completely happy Mom’s Day, mother. You’ll be able to relaxation now. No extra battle.

Be good to the moms in your life.

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Joe began Retire by 40 in 2010 to determine find out how to retire early. After 16 years of investing and saving, he achieved monetary independence and retired at 38.

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