Remembrances

Two years before she passed, So Young made several requests for her funeral. One of them was that “funny stories” about her should be shared at the ceremony. This is a compilation of funny stories and other remembrances we have received so far. These remembrances were originally printed and passed out at her funeral, but now that I’ve posted them on the blog, I invite you to add more as “comments” on this page. It is a great legacy to leave for So Young’s daughters.

So Young Licks James's Ear?

From Cathi A.

I write this with a heavy heart.  So Young has been such a huge blessing to me.  From the get go, she was very open in sharing her life story; I have learned so much from her in such little time.  I’ll never forget when I first spoke with her..it was a couple hours of tears and laughter.  Her genuine care for me made me feel immediately welcomed and comforted by her.  She was the recipient of my e-mails and phone calls and graciously walked with me through struggles and shared in my joys.  So Young and your family will always have a special place in my heart.  It comforts me to know that she’s not in any pain anymore.  I can picture her running and sprinting, abounding in joy in Heaven.

From Erica B.

So Young taught me to treat long runs like an eating experience.  Between mini snickers bars, planning out different varieties of gu and shot blocks, I learned to look forward not to the drudgery of a 20 mile run, but to the tasty treats (mostly mini snickers) that I would get to eat in reward at various points during the run.  I took some time today to look back over our tweets back and forth, I learned so much about training for marathons and her encouragement meant (and still means) so much to me.

From Jane C.

A couple of years ago at one of our Lake Anna retreats, we all got to the “Glass House” where we were to stay.  The owner of the house is apparently a lighting consultant and is super high tech with everything (wonderful lighting and other high tech gadgets all over the house!).  Anyways, there was a combination to the front door lock, which we were able to enter.  But for the life of us, we  – primarily me, Lucia and couple of other ladies – could not figure out how to open or turn the door knob (it was fancy schmancy doorknob in my opinion)!   A few of us kept trying to figure out how to open this door, getting nervous as it was starting to get dark (actually it may have already been dark).  We kept trying and trying.  In the mean time, Lucia was trying to call the owner.  Then finally So Young walks up and asks to try…. literally within seconds, she figured out how to open this high tech door!  We were amazed and So Young was just so calm about it – it made the rest of look like idiots!

Also, over that same weekend we all decided to watch a movie on the high tech movie/TV screen on one of the nights.  Guess who was in charge of the remote?  So Young was the only one who could figure out how to use the remote, turn it on and maneuver around the different channels/stations.  We were all laughing because she was the one who didn’t watch any TV, yet she knew everything about how to operate this high-tech gadget!

From Sarah C.

About 5-6 yrs ago when Audrey was still in diapers, I was over at your house for babysitting.  I had no kids at the time and I was asking So Young a lot of questions – wow, 3 kids? are you tired all time? wow, diapers again, etc.

I remember asking her how often she changes diapers, the work it goes into it, going up and down stairs to diapers into diaper pail, etc.. At that very moment, she gets up, opens up deck door then just threw Audrey’s dirty diaper out to deck! Then she says, ” Sarah, see? diaper can be fun! Don’t worry about anything!” and we all just started to chuckle.. I never knew how fun diaper changing can be until that day.

From Linda H.

Driving to our retreats together always included a pit stop like stopping for Krispy Kreme donuts because the “HOT” sign was flashing.  Or when we stopped for soft ice cream along the way because it seemed like a good idea at the moment. Or perhaps how she would insist on taking enough snacks for a full week on our 2 hour drives. Maybe she did that because our trips were never really only two hours long.  There was the time I backed into a pile of snow in my driveway on our way to a retreat; I still have that dent on the passenger door. She stayed strangely calm and still rode with me to the retreat. In hindsight she was probably praying like a fiend and couldn’t speak!  She often did that, didn’t she?  Offered to pray when discussion was not needed.

I remember when she offered to run with me. New runner that I was, she ran all the way to me by the appointed time and talked while I panted by her side. She was such an encouragement to me. I can’t recall how many miles we ran together…probably only one or two….because she finally told me, “I’ll catch up to you on the return.”  With that, she took off to run uphill on Prince William Parkway in her brown running skort, visor and matching tank top (she always looked great!).  It wasn’t hard for her to catch up with me on the homebound run.  She was ever gracious and always encouraging. During that run, she introduced Gu to me. Yep, more snacks.

The gorgeous mid-October day I took her out for lunch with her new wheelchair in tow was a day I won’t easily forget. After that particular excursion, she did tell me she had enjoyed herself. It was the most fun she’d had in a while, she said.  Her eyesight was failing and she had limited use of her right arm.  After lunch at Siam Bistro, we picked up some frozen custard from the shop next door. I then took her to the Westridge Community Center for a walk around the lake. It hadn’t been that long ago when we had celebrated her 40th birthday there.

The walk around the lake is when the true “fun” began. It was yet another adventure with So Young. (James, after you read this you will probably never let your children out with me!)  We settled her into her wheelchair and I tucked a blanket around her to keep her warm. I gave her the frozen custard to eat while I dug in the car for the napkins. She was too kind to remind me that she couldn’t eat well with her right hand as I placed the custard in the left….so I was shocked when I turned to see that the custard was all over her face, chin, and down her front.  Let’s just say the blanket was large enough to clean her up and still keep her warm because I didn’t have enough napkins to do the trick.

I nestled the custard in the blanket and let her continue enjoying the treat while I pushed her to the lake.  There are a few things I learned after the fact. First, that is one STEEP hill to the lake. Second, one should BACK a wheelchair downhill. Third, wear appropriate shoes for any activity; cowboy boots look cool but are not cool for walks with wheelchairs. Thankfully, He had His angels watching over us because she didn’t get launched into the water.  Now, that could have been funny.

She was right though, the walk was indeed fun. It was nice to talk and share laughs as we walked. I can’t recall specifically what we talked about.  It could have been about the girls or how she felt.  We probably talked about how good God was. And probably wondered if we were going to make it safely back to the car because what went down had to go back up hill. But we did!   We made it!  Again, she was probably praying for us.

From Hwa J.

One morning before church started at Colin Powell ES, I was passing by So Young in the main hall way when she greets me and we usually hug and then she does something that made me blush…she gave me a kiss on the cheek. Wow. At that moment I was thinking that first off I was wondering if anyone saw it and then I felt so loved. Good thing this was in a church environment or else people would think we were not happily married to men. J  That memory came upon me yesterday and as I was getting ready this morning, I was thinking that I will share that gesture with the ladies that mean so much to me and do so in honor of how it she made me feel that day.  So my sisters in Christ I give you fair warning to look out for me and encourage you to pass it on too.  For the men I would suggest shaking hands or the universal high five. J

From Caroline L.

She wrote me a card after my dad passed away from a stroke. That was a very difficult time for me & Roger because just three months prior, Roger lost his own dad to a bleeding ulcer. We had only been married a year. Anyway, I recall receiving this card and thinking to myself, how sweet it was of her, this person whom I was barely acquainted with at the time, to send me a card expressing her love and sympathy for our family. Her thoughtfulness deeply touched me. I expected prayers and support from my circle of friends at ABC, but not necessarily from other believers I did not know very well! God allowed me to experience His genuine love and care for me through the actions of many, including that of So Young’s.

So went many years at ABC where I did not know So Young. And, I wanted to be her friend! But being the introverted and shy person that I am, I could not find an opportunity to get to know her without being socially awkward about it. Then, I became pregnant with Caleb and found myself in MSG with other moms. Finally, a chance to know So Young!  And, how I have been BLESSED to have shared that time with her because I discovered that my instincts were correct and that she truly is a fabulous, God-fearing, loving, wise and GENUINE individual. I valued that most about your wife, her honesty. I just loved that about So Young’s faith. She followed Jesus in the same way that I desire to follow Jesus.

I dug around in my box of old cards this afternoon, looking for the one that So Young had written many years ago. I was able to find it and was a little surprised to see that it was dated 3/01/04, almost 9 years to the date. As your wife’s words comforted me many years ago, I pray that they will do the same for you and your daughters:

“We pray that the God of all comfort will heal you, strengthen you & carry the burden of such great sorrow.”

From Melanie M.

A funny story about So  Young. I think she’s was hilarious–we shared a sense of humor I think.  I remember how patient she was with me. I remember running with her during the all church retreat one year, and I was SO SLOW and So Young kept pace with me. She really could have mocked me, but didn’t. She asked me if I had any breathing techniques, when I told her aside from in out in out repeat, not really she suggested a few and then said ‘eh they probably wouldn’t help much’ 🙂  She used to tell me that if you didn’t get a medal at the end of a race it wasn’t worth it! LOL! So true, we ran for the medals. I can only imagine the amazing medal and reward she has now. When we bought our house we didn’t have window coverings, she’s the one who told me about the temporary paper blinds you can buy at Home Depot–she assured me they would last years–they did at her house! 🙂

From Grace O.

A funny story that comes to me is when So Young and I decided to dye our hair dark auburn color.  This is when you guys lived at the apartment in Annandale and Shannon was at that time a year old or younger.  We waited for Shannon to take her afternoon nap and we both took turns to dye our hair color.  Somehow, the color wasn’t too drastic, which was good but realized we left a big mess in the bathroom.  I remember getting my shirt stained and So Young let me borrow her white shirt from Express.  Her shirt was so comfortable and I said to her after couple years having her shirt, I told her I might as well keep the shirt.  And she said, “of course, you have it!”  I still have her shirt.

From Tawana R.

I sincerely love So Young for all her love & friendship & my memory is long for all that she has been for us although time has pass, always in my heart.

From Mike W.

I mostly remember these odd one liners/short moments for some reason.

1. There was this time in college Choung, Heri, myself and a few others were holding a prayer meeting and Heri was leading with the guitar. Hmm, in the middle of the intense prayer session we realized that she was playing Eric Clapton’s Wonderful Tonight and we all just started cracking up when we figured it out.

2. So Young once commented “You have a beautiful brain”, I thought that was a odd/funny comment lol.

3. I once asked So Young help writing a English paper and she said I’d be better off asking James cause he’s a English pro so I asked “aren’t you a English major?” and she just stared at me and walked away – haha it was just so funny for some reason.

4. So Young, Janice and I once tried to wake Benny up but he was knocked out – I just remember laughing so hard that day.

So Young will always live in our hearts brother James.

4 Responses

  1. This is my funny moment with So Young that I had been wanting to share, especially with her girls, but had missed the opportunity. So happy I saw this post.

    I paid a visit to So Young in October 2012. I had come from Seattle to Virginia for a work-related matter and to pay a surprise visit to So Young. I had heard the bad news and that she was having problems again—walking and talking. Reading her blog and hearing from a friend about her condition could not prepare me for the reality of it. I was not expecting to see how bad it was. It was shocking and heartbreaking to see her condition as she laid in bed, and how she hardly recognized me or that I had come a long way visiting. I blurted, “Hi So Young, I love you”, and gave her a kiss. It all came out like I was visiting a beloved family member. After a short period, I had to leave temporarily because the nurse came in. I went downstairs to the bathroom and unexpectedly started bawling uncontrollably. My dear friend had been left an invalid. Her mind, her body—deteriorated. Her suffering left a huge impression on me in ways that are hard to express.

    I soon went back upstairs to spend more time with So Young. I felt like I had to speak slowly, and treat her like a grandma, whose mind isn’t all together. I must have spent at least an hour with her before she softly said, “this is a surprise”. I smiled with a “yeah”. Her mind seemed to somehow snap back, and we started talking and chuckling and even sharing some tears. I talked about whatever daily things were going on with me. I still tried to keep the conversation simple, and to talk slowly enough. I was there to just be with So Young after all. At some point, I mentioned my new baby and how big she is getting so quickly. I mentioned how she outgrew her new clothes before I could put her in them because I forgot to get them out fast enough [I was mostly using a supply of hand-me-downs from a sister-in-law.] So Young, who had been mostly listening and staring into space in front of her with a vacant look in her eyes, after hearing my comment, immediately turned towards me and asked, “Did our clothes fit her?” I could see she was seriously concerned. [She had sent me a package with baby gifts, including clothes and a pair of sunglasses.] I immediately said, “yeah”, to reassure her. I felt bad that I worried her. And to this day, I still feel awful–because I lied. I was actually stumped by the question because I could not remember which clothes came from So Young. We had a baby girl, and everybody from back in Virginia sent us baby clothes! I was sleep deprived and barely ever showered. There was a drawer that I stuffed our gifts of new clothes for various ages. Much later, I tried to go back to that drawer and remember which clothes came from So Young. I still don’t know.

    All I know is that I couldn’t remember, and I was put to shame by someone who had a brain tumor, at a time when I was never sure if she was listening or understanding whatever was coming out of my mouth. But she remembered, and she was seriously concerned over such a trifling matter for someone who was fighting for her life. I look back on it with a smile, though it broke my heart that she sent me gifts, at a time when I didn’t want her family to spend money on me, and I worried her over baby clothes, and I couldn’t even remember which ones came from her…. (But I do remember the sunglasses–because we only had one.)

    • Ann,

      I don’t know why, but I didn’t see your post until just now. You wrote it on May 13! Thanks so much. I was just poking around the site and clicked on this page. Your story really touched me. It brought me to tears. And here I thought I was over my grief. But I suppose I never will be entirely. My God, those were hard times. You have no idea how much your presence ministered to us. And if it is any consolation, I don’t remember what clothes we got her, either! I do remember So Young really wanting to get those glasses! She was such a goofball. Love you, Ann, dear sister in Christ.

      James

  2. […] Remembrances […]

  3. I met So Young my freshmen year in college. We were in the same bible study group. She was very nice and had a gentle voice.
    Her last year before she passed away I joined her bible study group. Her strength and courage during her time of hardship showed me her love for Christ.
    Her last text message to me was
    Monica “I love you”.

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