As you might recall, I met Mark when he was Ian’s fourth grade teacher. Known for misrepresenting facts, he told the kids he was 78 and Ian believed him. Ian liked to pin me down on the fact that Mark’s “real” name was Christopher, which turned out to be true. I have spent 23 years watching as he does not correct bank tellers, supermarket checkers, doctors and others who jump in and call him Chris. He is definitely not Chris.
A year later, we were living with the denizens of the Corn Dog Cafe, and Mark went to school one day feeling like he did not want to be himself. So he wasn’t. He told his students that he was “Mr. Hanington’s twin brother Brian” and that “Mr. Hanington was ill and he, Brian, would be teaching them.” Oh yes. ”And I am a practicing zudolite and today is a Zudolite Holy Day of Silence.”
He proceeded to write on the board and invite kids to write on the overhead projector (those days) if they had questions or answers to his. Where his brother Mark played classical music — mostly Carmina Burana — he, Brian, played punk rock. He could hear them whispering “his hair is darker than his brother’s.”
One little guy in the back — Nicky — destined to be as smart a smart aleck as MarkBrian, observed that Brian knew people’s names. So when they were walking to the library, he siddled up to MarkBrian and said ” I know I am not supposed to say anything, and I don’t want you to say anything, but your brother Mark? He’s an idiot.”
Almost forty years ago, I lived in Pusan, Korea. It is about as far south from the north as you can get. That being said, when I arrived, there had been an incident at the DMZ which few people I know remember, but it was a big deal. Soldiers from the North with an ax killed two American officers and the country was put on alert.
A brief description from Wikipedia:
The axe murder incident was the killing of two United States Army officers by North Korean soldiers on August 18, 1976, in the Joint Security Area (JSA) located in the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). The U.S. officers had been part of a work party cutting down a tree in the JSA.
Three days later, the U.S. and South Korea launched Operation Paul Bunyan, an operation that combined a return to cut down the tree with a show of force to intimidate North Korea into backing down. North Korea then accepted responsibility for the earlier killings.
You have to give the Army credit for its naming operation. Operation Paul Bunyan indeed. The tree was being trimmed to clear the view plan to the North from the DMZ, and it is my understanding that the officers were killed because no orders could be given by anyone but an officer (on the face of it, it makes sense). At any rate, little happened until Operation Paul Bunyan was underway. The show of force involved parking large ships off North Korea’s shores.
Even down in Pusan, we were scared. Telephone poles had posters on them with fists that read “Kill communism.” We were frisked at every airport, and had to put the shades down on the (questionable) planes when we took off from Pusan and landed in Seoul. I worked for the American Red Cross and when we visited Korean Vietnam Vets in the hospital, they would greet us and say goodbye with a shout that translated to “Kill Communism immediately.”
Now that Kim Jun Un has shut down communications with South Korea, I can remember how unsettling it was to have a hostile neighbor on your border. A Korean friend thinks the young leader is just trying to get his people to believe in his might, but I worry that he may believe in it too — and all of this saber rattling may turn out not to be a joke. A few days ago, we sent two stealth bombers to drop inert munitions on an island parked off North Korea’s shores. Reminds me of cutting down the poplar tree.
23 years ago, the Corn Dog Cafe was going full steam ahead when Mark and I decided to take the younger boys skiing. Each of them brought a friend, and off we went to find a cottage we had rented in Lake Tahoe.
Met by an incredible blizzard, Mark drove the rental car with a relentlessness so grave that when four full bladders shouted from the back seat he kept going. NOOOOOOO they couldn’t believe that they would ever be able to go to the bathroom again. Some agonizing time later, Mark stopped the car so the boys could make yellow snow.
Time passed. We found the ski house and settled in. We skiied.
On our last night, the boys went out to explore the snow and engaged in the usual snow stuff. The youngest came back to report that the others were being mean to him, (not to mention throwing snowballs at cars) we should yell at them when they came home. A while later, he came in again and announced that we need not be mean to them, that they were now being nice and he was getting sodas for everyone.
When the boys came home, Mark greeted them with a stern face and announced that a man had come to our cottage saying that he and his pregnant wife were hit by snowballs thrown by some young men. Were they ours? ”No,” Mark said, ” not my boys. they wouldn’t do that. Am I right boys?”
One of the older ones said ” Why are they always blaming us? ” to which we did not reply. Mark sent them upstairs and they spent the night wondering if the police would come.
In the morning, we packed up and left in silence. A ways down the now-cleared road, Mark told them “March 28th is April Fool’s Day in Canada.” The one who felt unjustly blamed said ” I knew it.”
Last year, Sherry Parker Luttrell lost her beloved husband of 20 some years, Terence, to prostate cancer. Together, they fought a herculean battle, praying like crazy and accessing all manner of care, from routine approved cancer cares, to special trials. They beat it back for four years, but it would not be gone. Last year was the worst but Sherry and Terence, with the support of a big and loving family made the absolute best of what the worst had in store with them. Regrets, of course. But no regrets for love and care that were an example for every life that Sherry and Terence touched with their struggle.
When Terence was gone, Sherry felt she was lost forever … but as with her life with Terence, Sherry embraced the loss, faced her grief, and shared with others what was happening to her insides, day by day. She took the advice of her pastor and attended grief groups and grief counseling, and learned that Terence would be with her forever. He would always be part of her life and there would be room for other loves, just like siblings and parents, and children and grandchildren.
Somewhere along the way, a friend became a confident, and a confident became a partner. Jeff Sellentin — or Selly, as Sherry calls him — is a blessing in Sherry’s life. She met him through her church and both she and he have counseled with and accepted the advice of pastor Doug Heck. Doug was Terence’s mentor, and in the way God and the Universe bring people together in “coincidence,” Doug has been witness to Sherry and Jeff’s growing affection and love. Sherry and Jeff are getting married today, with Pastor Doug officiating and 40 – 50 very special friends and family in attendance.
There is room for everyone in this relationship — room for Sherry’s love for Terence, room for Jeff’s three children, Sherry’s three children and Sherry’s three grandchildren. And, of course, plenty of room for Sherry and Selly. As serendipity would have it, Sherry’s grandchildren are close in age to Jeff’s children and they really, really like each other. There seems to be magic in threes for Sherry and Jeff, and we wish them the very very best for a long and happy — and healthy life together. Their example of compassion, understanding and love is a good one for all of us.
Gloria. Circa 1955.
Gloria. Circa 2012.
Other than working for the American Red Cross in Korea for two years, Gloria Garvey has lived in Hawai`i since 1971. Her opinion and other writing has appeared in: The American Philatelist. Honolulu Weekly, The Honolulu Advertiser, The Honolulu Star Bulletin, The Star Advertiser, Hawai`i Reporter, Pacific Business News, Island Scene, The Design Management Journal.