I celebrated my 65th birthday (April 6 of this year) at my brother Mark’s home in Frisco, Texas, a busy suburb of Dallas. It was the beginning of a three week stay. The year before our youngest brother had died, leaving the two of us as the only remaining family. Though neither of us had any serious health issues, there was a feeling we should try and spend some extended time together while we had the opportunity. Losing a sibling is a jarring reminder of one’s own mortality. The future ceases to be a sure bet.
With Mark working (from home), our quality time began at dinner. We’d open an exotic bottle of wine for the meal (his wife would pass), then often finish it outside on the patio by the pool. If it was the weekend, a second bottle came into play. Our visits to the “local” wine warehouse meant we often had French and Italian vintages selected by my brother along with the Pinot Noirs I have come to enjoy. (Especially if they are from Oregon!👍)
Since I was not especially busy while I was down there, we decided to tackle a longstanding family project: uploading selected photos from the thousands our parents, and especially our grandmother, had taken while we were growing up. There were almost twenty trays of slides plus smaller collections that all needed to be looked at. Using a digital film scanner, I spent some four weeks going through them, choosing ones that featured interesting people shots instead of places. When finished, I uploaded the information to Google Drive. Whew! (I am sure grandma was looking down with approval.)
I ended up staying with my brother for over a month. Towards the end I got some very good news: Effective May 1st, Thailand Immigration would be relaxing its entry requirements!! I would still need to register through the Thailand Pass website, but only had to provide a few pieces of information. I took care of this on the third, and it was approved the next day.
I was lucky. My Retirement Visa needed to be renewed by June 7th. If Immigration had waited another month, there would not have been time to take care of this. The Siam chapter of my life would have come to a close. But now I had two weeks to say goodbye to Mark, make a stop in Seattle to get my things, and shove off.
I flew out of SeaTac on May 15th, arriving in Bangkok — and clearing Customs with no problem — the following day. Soon after that I was settling into an apartment and two weeks later had my visa renewed.
After half a year of being stranded in the U.S. because of Covid, a new start.