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My Paradise...

When I heard that you love Northern Thailand, I knew I must share this story with you. I will try to make it brief. A few years ago, my retired uncle, Bill, was traveling to Asia for the first time. He was staying in Bangkok waiting the okay to travel into Vietnam when he met a Brit who asked if he would like to go on a safari through Northern Thailand. Having no set schedule and a love for adventure, my uncle readily agreed. They traveled the many hours north and Bill was left in a small village where only one person knew a tiny amount of English while his new friend went off to get the elephants scheduled. As he was leaving,. the Brit mentioned that the village had purchased building materials and would Bill mind helping them construct their new house. Bill had shared his experience as a builder and architect with the man while getting to know each other in Bangkok. Not realizing yet that he had been shanghaied for this express reason, he agreed to assist these people. Needless to say, the safari never happened, but my uncle found a new home. As a result of this experience, Bill fell in love with the area, but especially with the children. When he came back from the East, he was a changed man. He set up a fund for the school in the village to help pay for milk and basic supplies. His goal was $5,000. Before he went back, he had raised almost $10,000. To make this whole situation truly melancholy, his mother died one week before he was scheduled to fly back to Thailand. He went as scheduled. It was where is heart was.

Why, you ask, is he not writing this story? Last August he was diagnosed with a rare form of lung cancer. Faced with the choice of a long fight for a few extra months of living in pain or traveling to Thailand to say goodbye, he of course chose to travel. He stayed there for two months and when he returned on Christmas Eve, he was given two weeks to live. He died yesterday, 2/4/00 at the age of 63.

My paradise is my grandmother's cabin in central New Hampshire on Lake Wentworth. Many summer days were spent there with the whole family. I have wonderful memories of my uncle and I sitting on the porch, listening to the loons and the waves lapping the shore, sharing stories and laughing. I have always believed that cabin to be Heaven on Earth.



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