Hello Family & Friends,
We're happy and healthy, and hope you are, too. We have come to realize that a big part of our health is the exercise we get. Yao is a regular on her treadmill and bicycle (weather permitting). Larry bikes to stay in shape for skiing, and skis to stay in shape for biking. Marie bikes, runs, plays tennis, and we all do yoga to varying degrees.
Marie is now in her second year at Arizona State. She changed her major this semester from Biology to Biochemistry. Most of you know that Marie's career goal is to become a pediatrician. In addition to school, she has been preparing herself for a career in medicine in several different ways. She's volunteering at a clinic for low-income patients in Phoenix, and made a trip to Honduras at the end of the Spring semester with Global Medical Brigades. That was an eye-opener. Though she had seen poverty in Thailand, she was astonished to see the conditions in Honduras, one of the poorest countries in the Americas. Most of the patients, fortunately, presented only minor illnesses.
Larry had a pretty good year on his bikes, hanging them up in November with over 1,600 miles on the odometer for the year. A big part of that was training with a co-worker for a 100-mile day, which we completed the first Saturday in September. The daily 14-mile round-trip to work adds up, too.
As usual, Thailand was a big part of our life again this year. Yao and Marie (with academic schedules) were there for eight weeks, and Larry joined them for the last four. We had fun in Pai, a resort town in the rural north. We hiked in the forested hills, rode elephants and played with them in a river, and went zip-lining through the treetops. Also made a trip to Phuket to connect with some friends who live there, and got in some beach time on a return visit to Khao Lak, the area that was hit hard by the tsunami in December 2004.
We had a shock our last day in Thailand as we prepared to return to the States: Yao's mother was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, already metastasized. That left Yao wondering whether to come home with us, or to stay and tend to her mom's needs. She decided to get on the plane with us, but returned to Thailand ten days later, after arranging a family medical leave with Madison Schools. Yao was able to spend the last six weeks of her mother's life with her, helping to make her comfortable. She passed away on October 9th at the age of 81. Larry went to the funeral in Yao's home town, Phayao, and, along with sons and grandsons, wore the robes of a Buddhist monk for the burial. Yao and Marie are going again on December 21st to attend the 100-day memorial, which is traditional in Thai-Chinese culture.
We're looking forward to some life-changing events in 2010. Yao plans to (semi-)retire. That is, she's retiring from Madison Schools, but that means she's looking for work in Thailand to occupy herself while Larry works another six months and prepares the house for sale. Marie is planning a spring break trip to the Dominican Republic on another medical mission, and Larry is going to dabble in cyclocross, a form of bike racing on trails and roads. There might be an Alaska cruise in our future, with Larry's brother Jim who fills in as an occasional ship's doctor with Holland America.