25 July, 2014

Grace under pressure (Role Model Series II)

Living in Thailand in the early 90s, I became close to a Thai staff member, Wilai, who had never had children. 

 "We waited for the right time to have the baby, then the baby never came," is how she described her life.  She had done everything right, waited till they were educated and financially sound, and living in the same country.  But maybe she had waited too long.  Or maybe it would never have happened.  She was sad about the outcome, there was no denying that, but accepting.  When I knew her she was 40, so only really beginning to come to terms that her dream wouldn't be followed through.  She stressed to me that if I wanted children, I shouldn't leave it too late.  Maybe I should have listened to her?

We worked very closely together.  She helped and encouraged me speaking Thai, tolerated my long conversations with her husband about Thai politics, and got me into exclusive meetings with prominent political figures where I was (thanks to my background as an AFS exchange student) the only foreigner there.  When the frustration of work or head office got too much, we had lots and lots of laughs together.  She helped my husband throw a surprise 30th birthday party, and ensured the local staff always included me when they were having khaoneeo, somdum and gai yang for lunch.  She also said one of the nicest things to me that anyone has ever said, and I'll always cherish her for that.

Her reach was far greater than just helping me, though.  Wilai was one of the most compassionate, wonderful women I have ever met. She delighted in the children of friends and colleagues.  She adopted dogs (and in Thailand, there are a lot), was kind to the more needy in society (and in Thailand, there are a lot), and treated everyone - whether they were an Ambassador, a high ranking government official, in high society, or the driver or cleaners at work - with love and respect and dignity.  She was not a mother, but she was still making her mark on life, affecting many individuals for the better.  By setting such an example, she made us all better people just by knowing her.

Note:  If you'd like to follow links to A Summer Afternoon, email me on malinzblog at yahoodotcodotnz and I'll add you to the list of readers.  
Update:  Having seen the click-through stats, I've take A Summer Afternoon public but will do so only for a week or so.


  1. Agree, she sounds lovely indeed. :-) Btw, couldn't open asummerafternoon because I haven't been invited to read the blog (at least that's what I got when I clicked on it).

    1. Oops, sorry. I took it private on a re-read last year. Happy to include you to read it (or anyone else) if they email me at malinzblog at yahoodotcodotnz