Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Missing Cousin Sam...

We have been thinking of cousin Sam a lot the past few days, and missing him. I realized recently that we never announced his passing... I guess partially because we didn't want to believe it. But Sam went to be with the Lord on January 13th.

Most of the time, it doesn't seem like he's gone. Not yet. When we're in the US we typically talk to him via Skype once or twice a month... so it just feels like we'll talk to him "in a little bit". I think it will really sink in when we go back to Thailand and he isn't there for a visit.

Rusty and Sam holding a gift from our Karen friends.
Sam was always so supportive of the kids we care for, calling and checking in to be sure they were well taken care of.

I can't believe that just over a year ago, we didn't know this man. In the short time we have known him, he has truly become family to us. Losing him was almost like losing a grandfather, because that is how much he loved us and took care of us (and the way we tried to love and take care of him). We have re-told our favorite "Sam stories" the past few weeks with laughter and tears. He was such a kind, funny, tender, compassionate, generous man. I will miss the twinkle in his eyes and the funny way he had of putting things!

A picture taken on the mirrored "wall" behind Sam's favorite countertop restaurant in Thailand.
He introduced me to mangosteen that night and was so excited when I told him it was my new favorite fruit!

While in Thailand last March, we got to celebrate Sam's 81st Birthday. He told us not to make a fuss but I'm so glad we did, considering it was his last. We took him out to dinner and for some reason there was a firework show that night! (I told him it was for his birthday, haha!) We surprised him with a CD Player and an MP3 Player in his car - full of his favorite music - which really tickled him. He couldn't believe 800 songs fit on that little jumpdrive! At the end of the night we gave him a piece of chocolate cake and sang to him. I found the video today and cried remembering all his little mannerisms. Can't you see the twinkle in his eye? 

We found out from his son that Sam was actually a war hero. He served in Korea and in Vietnam for 12 years. He won 2 bronze stars and 1 silver star for valor - apparently he continued going back for his men under heavy fire. Of course he was too modest to tell us that.

One of Sam's favorite things to do was take us out for coffee and ice-cream after dinner. Here we are at his favorite place!

We only knew him for a year, but it was truly an honor to share in his last year of life. I'm eternally grateful that God crossed our paths and gave us the great blessing of a relationship with him! We are forever changed because of it.


  1. That seems like such a special relationship. You all were so lucky to have found each other.

  2. what a great tribute to him. there are definitely reasons why God has us cross paths with certain people. he looks like he was such a sweet man