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Thursday, April 21, 2016

David’s Home, Part 1

(David, this is the first installment of Mom’s notes on your transition to the US. Some of it is hard to read, but it is real and it is family memory. Share as you wish.)

David came to us via a long flight from Seoul, Korea. He and the other children and babies went through customs in Los Angeles and then flew to Eugene.

We drove from Klamath Falls in order to meet his flight. Several little children and babies were met by prospective parents.

Of course, none of these adoptees had ever seen their new parents, except in photos. We had sent several pictures ahead of time: some of us, our house and yard, and our sweet dog, who was a loving terrier-poo.

When we saw David, he seemed small for an 8 year old. In fact, he took size 6 clothes.

I gave him a cloth bag full of Hot Wheels. He liked those right away. He took them out and began running them across the floor.

My husband, Dale, took David to the restroom. He was not too happy about being away from the other children.

Then we went to the car. I noticed all he had were the clothes on his back. We had sent clothes for him. We later learned that they had kept them for other children in the orphanage, along with books and toys we had sent.

When we got home, it was the middle of the night. We put David to bed on a mattress on the floor, since that’s how he was used to sleeping. We found out later that he missed the five boys and room mother who had been his roommates for three years.

Since he was unhappy, we asked a Korean wife to interpret for us and to find out what was wrong. It seems children sleep with their parents in Korea and we had put David in a private room. So we moved his mattress next to our bed. That helped for a while.

Next, he needed a bath, but he hadn’t seen a bathtub or shower. A washcloth and dish pan served that purpose at first.

When he took his clothes off, we noticed scars on his back. When he could speak English, we asked about them. He said his grandfather tied him to a chair and beat him. Sometimes he had to sit there all night.

It took a few months for the adjustment and for David to feel at home.

Monday, April 11, 2016

“I Have Diabetes…"

Based on what I can glean from these notes that my mom was writing, this particular one must have been written seven years ago, in 2009 perhaps. Also, based on contextual clues, it was probably written while living at Terwilliger Plaza in Portland, Oregon. It is titled, in her words:


I have been diabetic for 65 years. It hasn’t been easy. When I was young, there was only one kind of insulin to control sugar in the blood.

Sometimes the insulin would peak in the middle of the night. My parents had to watch me closely. Mom worked as a cook at the school I attended to make sure I ate the right foods and didn’t pass out in the middle of the day.

She also boiled my glass syringes and metal needles. Dad sharpened them with his razor blade. That was before disposable needles and syringes. Now the needs are very thin and don’t hurt unless a nerve is hit.

In Jr. High, I couldn’t take gym because the exercise would cause my blood sugar to fall too low. That was before personal blood tests. Now I test my blood four times a day. I also take insulin four times a day.

I used to be able to tell when my blood sugar was too low, but not any more. I have been diabetic too long. I no longer get the signals that I used to get. 

I just pass out.

You may have seen an ambulance taking me away. One reason we moved here was to get help when I needed it.

My husband proposed to me when we were in college. He said “Would you marry someone like me?” I said, “Who did you have in mind?” Then I told him, “I have diabetes.” He said he would think about it. The next day he said he would still like to marry me. We have been married 55 years.

[Joyce Sawyer/Mom died just three weeks before her 83rd birthday, and after having been married for 62 ½ years.]

Stream of Consciousness

Little by little, I’m transcribing some notes found while going through my mom’s things. This one is short. There is very little that connects the thoughts on the page. No date is on the page. So begins the stream:

The ocean is constant and calming. Our daughter and son-in-law likes (sic)light houses and one is on the right. Now there is a haze over the water. I rest every day to protect my heart. I have done this since I was 7 years old with rheumatic fever. Dale helps me to see now, since I am losing my sight. He takes very good care of me, especially with my diabetic episodes.