Transcending the Cultural Divide


Few things transcend culture easily, and while we all may have different customs,  the end of ones life is always a very sad affair. As I write this Pookie’s 86 year old grandmother  is fading fast in a hospital in Nakhon Phanom and my father is  quickly losing his battle with cancer.

The cultural divide quickly erodes when it comes to the simple joys of life or the sadness of losing a loved one, it’s a universal understanding that we all share and brings us closer together. While sometimes language and customs can be a barrier it’s these simple truths that let us know we aren’t so different after all.

Although our cultures are different the feelings are very much the same. Wanting our loved ones to pass quietly with as little pain as possible, as our families come together to support one another and do all we can for our loved ones. Death is never easy, even when it is expected and you have followed the long slow decline.

Pookie’s grandmother had been at home until this past week when the family could no longer care for her in the way that was needed. She slept most of the 24 hour day and when she did occasionally wake she would take very little food and water. My father on the other hand wishes to be at home and this is where he will pass. It has been a long hard battle for both of them and hopefully their last days will go peacefully.

It’s a feeling of helplessness as we watch our loved ones lose their struggle with life. We can only be there for them and help to make them more comfortable and let them know they are loved. It’s the one thing that binds all of us as human beings across the world. The process is as hard in America as it is in rural Thailand. The family pulls together and does all they can, little sleep is had and many tears are shared. Although,  there are still bright spots and small fits of laughter as our loved ones help us to come to terms with the inevitable.

Sleep has been hard to come by in the past 2 weeks for my family and  Pookie’s family as we wait and do what we can to ease our loved ones on.  As the rest of the world moves on in what seems a very slow procession of events it becomes very clear what is really important in life. Rich or poor, Thai or American, life is a very finite and precious thing that shouldn’t be measured in time but in memories and feelings that will last much longer than any one life.

Two very different  people from two very different cultures sharing one single aspect of life that we all must endure. We come into this world with nothing but hopefully everyone leaves taking with them the thought that they are loved and those that remain behind will always keep them in their memories.

Live, love and touch as many lives as you can.  Explore the world around you, while what life we have is finite the possibilities are infinite and the only thing that matters are those people that have shared in our journey.


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5 Responses to Transcending the Cultural Divide
  1. malcolm
    April 10, 2010 | 1:00 am

    Talen, Ciejay and my, thoughts and prayers of comfort and strength go out to you and Pookie at this time of sadness and soon lost of a loved one .You are right in that death does draw us close together and causes our hearts and minds to think on the good things about the person passing, and the love and life shared with them, and that seems at times like this to draw us even closer to each other , you are right in that love and death hath no boundries, and that brings a smile to our face and also a tear to our eyes , our prayers go out to you and yours and both families. Ciejay and Malcolm
    .-= malcolm´s last blog ..A LONG , LONG AND WINDING ROAD ( BUT IT WAS WORTH THE RIDE ) =-.

  2. Mike
    April 10, 2010 | 8:58 am

    A sad time Talen, I hope for everyone concerned that when the end does come that it is as painless as possible with lots of positive thoughts about a life shared remaining.
    .-= Mike´s last blog ..Wat Huai Luk-??????????-Prachuap Khiri Khan =-.

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  4. Martyn
    April 10, 2010 | 11:41 pm

    I can’t really add too much to Malcolm and Mike’s touching comments apart from saying when the time comes I hope your father’s and Pookie’s grandmother’s loved ones will be there to send them on to their next journey and life. My thoughts are with you both.
    .-= Martyn´s last blog ..Village Life – Holding Back the Years =-.

  5. Talen
    April 11, 2010 | 6:55 am

    Thank you all for the kind words. My father passed away today ( Saturday ) surrounded by his family in his home as he wanted. While it’s a sad time for us we are relieved that he is finally out of pain and with his wife who he dearly missed.