I first went to Thailand in early 2003, lured by a young lady I’d been corresponding with who was named Aay Chomphoophat. She had no English — our E-mail exchanges were made possible thanks to a school-teacher friend of hers named Sujittra Pookrongjit.
Circumstances were not entirely what they seemed, as it turned out. Aay proved a huge disappointment to not only me, but also to her friend, Sujittra, as well as some other friends of theirs I had come to know, and who came to care for me.
However, thanks to the siren that Aay had been, I did meet these various people, and one of those proved such a loyal companion, guide, and protector, that by the end of my vacation, I recognized that I had grown to love her very much.
I returned in early 2004 and Jack (Supranee) and I became engaged.
And then the following year of 2005, I made my third and final visit to Thailand, and Jack and I married in the city of Udon Thani after arranging the preliminary paperwork in Bangkok.
It was the early morning of June 18, 2005, that I had to catch my return flight here to Canada. This flight, as were the two previous return-flights in each of the two previous years, was agonizingly heart-wrenching. Jack was not coming with me because she had already been denied two Visas, and we were now attempting to obtain our third.
Thanks to the marriage, she this time qualified. But it was not until May 10, 2006, that she at last exited Thailand for the first time in her life, and came here to Canada to join me — almost 11 months after we had last been together.
Although she made return trips to Thailand in 2007, 2008, and 2009, I remained here. It was a matter of economics only, for I dream still of getting back to Thailand and spending as much of my life there as possible.
During Jack’s Summer visit to Thailand in 2008, she returned here to Canada in September with her two sons, who were coming here to live with us. The oldest lad is Tho (Sirichot), who is now 15 as I write this in early January, 2010; he is in Grade X. The younger boy is Pote (Chaianun), aged 12, who is in Grade VII.
Tho wants to return to Thailand to live, and thinks that he will be doing so once he has finished Grade X. Jack’s plans are that the boys will live here until they have finished school, and thus been educated into a level of English that will be impossible for them back in their Nong Soong village. Too, she hopes to keep them from the risk of serving in the Thai military. She feels that once they have finished high school here in Canada, they can then determine for themselves what they would like to do.
How this contradiction in expectation is going to play out once Tho finishes Grade X is yet to be discovered, but I reckon all shall be known soon enough.
I am now 60 years of age, but still working — I cannot afford to Retire. I only have 19 years of Pensionable Service, and that Pension is not worth much more than $1,700 a month. But I will be doing so no later than April 1, 2012. Should a financial miracle make it possible to Retire before then, I definitely will!
But I would love to be able to visit Thailand as often and as long as possible in the years ahead before young Pote finishes his Grade XII in better than five years. Jack says she is willing for us to all move back to her homeland at that point, if it is what her boys wish to do. Being young, they may prefer to remain here in Canada for an indefinite time to earn an income that could only be dreamed of in Thailand.
All of that lies ahead.
Aay Chomphoophat will probably never know it, but she gave me the courage to leave Canada for the first time in my life on an adventure that no one who knew me could quite believe I was undertaking — a journey to Asia, and to a country I knew nothing about. A country that was home to Jack, the unwed 29-year old mother of two sons who longed for a better life for herself and for them. The woman who was to become my wife. If not for Aay, none of it would have ever happened, and there is no telling what other course my life might have taken. But Jack and I would definitely never have met.