After we returned from Bali, Papaw stayed with us for another week before heading back home to the US. Zoe, Logan and Sebastian had gotten used to him being there to drop them off at school in the mornings and to pick them up from school in the afternoons, and more so, they had gotten used to him helping them with their homework and reading them stories each evening. My father is a lifelong educator and has infinite patience with my children when he’s teaching them something, and his teaching methods are what a professional would do, which is completely different than Carolyn and I because we try to explain a concept and then get flustered when a 6 year old or 4 year old doesn’t pick it up immediately. I need to work on my patience a lot, and take time when I help the girls with their school work, but I’ve spent 17 years involved with Engineering, not Education, so it doesn’t come naturally to me.
After Papaw left we got back into our normal routine. My health had somewhat stabilized except that I hated my C-PAP machine because it was very difficult to get used to having air smashed into your nose at increasingly higher pressure as you try to sleep. Eventually we went to Singapore and my ENT got me a full face mask, so air getting pushed into my mouth and nose simultaneously made things a bit more comfortable than when it was the nose only.
The biggest thing that happened shortly after my father left was that my company asked me if I would consider extending my contract to stay in Malaysia for 1 more year (through 2018). This was odd because normally they ask in November/December, but it was good because Carolyn and I had a lot of time to plan either way, which was a first compared to the previous years.
Carol and I discussed the pros and cons of staying for another year for several weeks, with my company asking many times what my plan was, and finally we decided that we were definitely ready to return to the US. We originally thought we would be here for 2 years, then we had a 2 year extension and after that a 1 year extension. After 5 years we were ready to leave. Living in Malaysia has been a wonderful experience and I have seen the company where I work grow in leaps and bounds during that time, and in fact the entire area around Johor Bahru building up at a frantic rate, but we decided it was enough. Enough being away from family, enough being aware from our own culture, enough not understanding half of what’s said every day, enough dealing with constant heat and humidity, enough craziness with the driving, just enough.
We were ready for our children to be able to see their cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents more frequently than a couple of days a year, and most importantly to us we were ready to see our own parents more frequently. Time has flown by and none of us are getting any younger, so we decided not to let more time pass where we live a world away. We want to see our family more frequently. If we have medical issues we like having the support of family without having to make an emergency 35hr trip across the world. We hope Logan will know just as much about Easter as she does about Chinese New year. We just miss home I suppose…
All that said, we loved our time in Malaysia. Mostly we have enjoyed meeting the great people we have spent time with and gotten to know well. Carolyn will miss Elizabeth, Joann, Kas, Nancy and several other friends. I will miss the people I worked closely with every day, like Herman, Aidil, Zul, Azmie, Kumar and Syifa. Our girls have close friends at school too.
We will miss Sunday dim sum brunch at New Hong Kong. We will miss the fantastic teachers that have worked so closely with our children, like Teacher Lisa, Teacher Mary and Teach Mei. We will miss the superb doctors in Singapore, especially Dr. Phuah and Dr. Chee. We will miss KL – in my opinion, the second best major city in Asia after Tokyo (Singapore is great, but KL is great too and has an edginess to it you don’t feel in Singapore). We will miss our housekeepers and nannies, especially Jean! We will miss chili crab buns. We will miss monkey sightings and giant monitor lizards sprinting across the roads. We will miss the acceptance and lack of (outward) vitriol that foreigners receive here, which seems much better than how foreigners (or those with differences) are treated in the US.
In the end, I told my company we did not want to accept the 1 year extension and that we were ready to go. It felt like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders after that decision was finalized. I care about my company and the guys I have worked closely with, and I want to help my boss as much as possible, but there was a point where everything would be turned over and I would be free to move on to the next adventure and challenge.
The other thing that happened in July was that Carolyn and I decided that with our departure from Malaysia coming up we should have professional photos of the kids taken while we are still here, to remind us of this time in our lives, and we thought the best way to commemorate it would be by having them dress up in traditional costumes from the three main ethnic groups that make up Malaysia – Malay, Chinese and Indian.
Here are the photos from July, including some of the Indian costumes that were bought for the photo shoot and the girls posing at a nearby Hindu temple in those colorful costumes: