Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Dad tells his own story

Hello folks.

As of today, I'm beginning the edit and sharing of the video project Dad and I did. I've decided to show it in chronological order, as we filmed it.

We started taping in December of 2004. In this first segment, he talks about why he chose to make this tape, then moves into talking about the early years. He shares a few memories of what he was told about the births of himself and his siblings, then he speculates about the reasons his father moved them to China when he was still a baby.

We have all been missing Dad, naturally. Besides thinking of him often, we have been spreading his ashes many places. Mom spread some at Shoreline Golf Links, one of his regular courses. I think she went out to the 9th fairway, but I'm not exactly sure. I've taken Dad to Candlestick Park for our regular Niners game, the Church of the Wayfarer in Carmel (where he and Mom got married), Tank Hill in SF (great view), and the ocean at my in-laws' Ventura beach house. I now feel a little of what Barry Bonds felt when he pointed to the sky after home runs after his dad died. Dad never really got to see my best basketball games (which are happening now playing pickup at the Y), but after a good day, I smile thinking of him enjoying it.

More soon, I promise.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Photo retrospective

Just wanted to share the photos I scanned as input to the collages and program. Didn't quite use all of them, but came pretty close.


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Services weekend

This past weekend we held services for Dad in two parts. The first was a Visitation on Sunday, held from 1-5 at the funeral house. This was the first time I saw Dad since he passed, and it was difficult. The embalmer did a good job, though. He looked a lot like he did in recent weeks. Mom had him dressed in his favorite suit; the same one he wore to my wedding.

We were glad to have many visitors and well-wishers spread over several hours. It gave us a chance to spend some time with each of them. I told many people that our neighbor Lou's father (a big deal in the lung cancer world) said that it was likely that something broke off in Dad's bloodstream and cut off his oxygen. He must have passed quickly and painlessly. He said "If you've got lung cancer, that's the way to go." Julie and I have personally witnessed a much worse way to go, and we believe him. So I'm very thankful that Dad got everything important that he wanted done, and then went without a big fuss. It would have been pretty dreadful for him to have a long hospice stay with declining functions. As it was, so many people couldn't believe he was gone because he was out at dinner parties just days before. This photo by Helen Chew on 6/28 is one of the last photos ever taken of him. He was having a great time!

The second event was a Memorial Service, held Monday at 2 PM. There is a block with half a dozen churches by Mom and Dad's house, and last week I spotted one that looked appealing... nice stone lower-wall construction, beautiful open areas. We checked it out, and it was perfect: The Unity Palo Alto Community Church. Not only was the facility and the support excellent, but the affiliation was appealing: rather universalist and open. I'm not big on dogma, especially Christian dogma. While Dad did call himself a Christian, he did not attend church, read the Bible, or follow any particular sectarian practices. He basically believed that there is a God, and that he had many sons, among them Jesus, Mohammed, and Buddha. It's a liberal interpretation of Christianity, to say the least. So I think he would have approved of this site himself.

I spent all week working on the program for the service, three 20x30 collages for display at both events, and my speech for the closing words of the service. There were about 300 people coming out for the service... we were very gratified to see the love for Dad reach so many. We also had some amazing tributes from some fantastic speakers:
  • Dad's niece Ramona Mar delivered a heartfelt, endearing eulogy
  • Mom's nephew Gordon AhTye recalled many stories of Dad around their family over the years
  • Good friend Clarence Bakken told tales from the golf course, and other parts of Dad's social life
  • Nine people eloquently spoke during the "open mike," including nephew Gary Mar, my wife Julie Minoff, and Pearl Chang from Dad's time at NASA. But the showstopper was Dad's niece Winnie Leong, talking about how much it meant to her that Dad was able to find her and the rest of brother Lim's family in Oakland in the late 60's after a dozen years of separation.
I will have to get video up from this later, but it will take some editing as the video ran out of power during Winnie's words. Fortunately, Brian the fabulous sound guy got audio of the whole thing so history is still kept.

Thanks so much to everyone who came this weekend to pay respects to my father. We very much needed and appreciated your support, and I'm confident that Dad was out there, savoring it all as well. I am also thankful to my wonderful colleagues at work, who empathized with my pain, sent flowers and a plant, and covered for me all week even though there was major stuff going on.


Monday, July 14, 2008

Gordon Mar, R.I.P. 1931-2008

Gordon passed away peacefully at age 77 while home in Palo Alto with his wife Nancy at his side after a five year battle with lung cancer. He was born to Mah Foo and Wen Fong Wong in Lamont, Alberta, Canada, as the youngest of six children. After his childhood in the family village in Toy San, China, and his teen years in Canada, he spent most of his life in the Bay Area. After 30 years of government service, he retired from NASA as Chief of the Contract Pricing Branch responsible for analyzing all multi-year/multi-million dollar proposals.

Gordon was passionate about golf, which he took up in his retirement years. He loved classical music, world travel, good Chinese food, poker, and Bay Area sports. He served on the boards of the ACLU, South Bay Self-Help for the Elderly, and the Chinese Historical and Cultural Project. As a young man he loved playing volleyball and basketball. Later, he was President of the PTA and coached his son’s Little League and basketball teams.

He is survived by Nancy (his wife of 49 years), his son Glenn Mar of San Francisco (wife Julie Minoff and daughter Natasha MarMinoff), daughter Dana Wong of Palo Alto (husband Gil, children Ryan, Elise, and Evan), sister Ida Yep of Stockton, and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents and brothers Lim, Hong, Barry, and Harold.