November 24, 2010

A story.

(I'm behind on a few things, including responding to comments.  Sorry about that.)

Back in the day, my older brothers were quite the party boys.  There was one particular bar that Johnny liked to go to and he showed up so often the owner put him to work as a bouncer.  As soon as Mark was able to pass for 21 (ahem) he could also be found honing his pool skills at The Dutch.   As boys will be boys they got caught up in a few bar fights, all part of the coming of age process around here in those days.

The owner was a tiny little Korean lady in her late 20s who took it upon herself to mother and look out for my 6'2" and 6'3" big brothers.    I'd share some of the stories they told me over the years, but then I'd then I'd have to kill you.  Which is exactly what Mark threatened me with if I ever repeated the stories to mama.  The point is that whatever mischief the boys got into, Wong was there to help them out of it.

When I turned 21 they insisted on taking me to meet her.  She was tending bar that day as someone had not shown up for work, and as I put my hand out to meet her she pulled me behind the bar and said "You work here" before walking around to hug my brothers.  I laughed and walked around to join them and she turned to me adamantly.  "No. Get back.  You stay."

And so I did. 

I made a beautiful friend that day~ the kind we all want to have and can only hope to be.  Wong was crazy faithful, praying every day at the same time for everyone she knew.  Her example of honesty in faith while accepting real life struck me.  And stuck with me. 

Ultimately tending bar paid for my education, but more than that it gave me the freedom I craved.  Freedom to travel, to move on whenever I wanted, to follow wherever my wanderlust led.  And travel I did. Whenever I landed in a new place I'd tend bar until I figured out something else I wanted to do.

A couple of years ago it afforded me a new kind of freedom....the ability to afford my mortgage.  Most of you reading this are rowing a similar boat against the current with a broken paddle~ chasing a dream that your heart won't let you abandon in an economy that dictates you are an idiot for doing so.   Yep, I'm struggling.  Yep, I'm stressed.  But I think a large part of the population is, no matter the job.

So when I was asked a couple of weeks ago if I would mind filling in at the bar I play on a dart league for, I was quick to respond in the affirmative. 

B is a bartender at Classics who I've known since that first day Wong informed me that I now worked for her almost 19 years ago.  She called me so upset a few days ago that I couldn't understand anything she said short of  "Wong hospital can you come in?" 

And so I did.

It occurred to me as I walked behind the bar at Classics how ironic the situation was~ to be standing in a place once again because of the woman who first ordered me there so many years ago.

I sat on the phone waiting for Bev's update.

Ruptured Aneurysm.  Hole in Aorta.  Paralysis.  Coma.  Waiting game.

The words floated around outside my head, my ears refusing them entry.  She's only 54.  Too young.  Too good.  Too big to be so little. 

The wait ended with Wong's passing this morning. 

She's gone.  Those are words I can't ignore.

I'm thankful she was here.  She touched so many lives in such a positive way that her absence will forever be felt by those of us fortunate enough to have known her.

"No.  Get Back.  You stay."

And so we must.


  1. She sounds like an awesome lady, Juls! I'm sorry for your loss, but happy to know you shared so many great years as friends with her. I'm sure if she was a little Korean lady - she was quite a pistol!

    P.S. My captcha is "brati" - how coincidental!

  2. i'm very sorry for your friends passing. sometimes it's the unexpected seemingly small events like in your story that can become such a force in our lives.

  3. Oh no! That is so very sad. My heart is breaking for your loss...but also bursting with joy that this tiny woman brought to your life. There are no words that will make this hurt go away. But I think that it is a good thing to hurt because it will prove that you loved so deeply and cared so mightily for this tiny powerhouse of a woman who nurtured your soul and gave you the wings to fly. If I could you know that I would be that shoulder you need, Juls. When you need to vent and rail and sob, you know where I am, just a few clicks away.

    This was a moving and eloquently written tribute to Ms. Wong. Thank you for sharing.

    I know it sucks, but I do believe that there is something good in every day. Please find your something good, Juls.

    Enjoy the day.

  4. My deep and sincere condolences, Juls. What a wonderful, wonderful thing it is that you got to know and love her while she was here, and that she helped so much to shape you into the woman you are today. There is always, always comfort. You know that more than most.

  5. I am so sorry for your loss, my heart goes out to you and your brothers. But you have so many stories to remember her by..that's a wonderful thing!

  6. I am sending hugs your way and healing happy thoughts in your sad time. Death always is a reminder of how precious our lives are and that we need to remember to share the love with all.

  7. So hard to take. Even harder to take during a holiday. Hugs.

    Hope you and Chels have a blessed Thanksgiving.

  8. {{{{{{Juli}}}}}}}
    Hugs and Love are being sent your way!

  9. How wonderful that you were in each others' lives. Thanks for sharing this story, Juls. It's a reminder of how we are intertwined and calls us to be grateful for each and every person around us.

  10. Juls - so so sorry for your loss! What an incredible story and what an awesome woman! My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  11. Juls--I'm so sorry. It's hard to lose those who are so special in our lives--who've made such an impact. I have a "Remembrance Journal" so I can write down the special memories of loved ones--aunts, uncles, friends. My Mom's been gone 15 months now and I still find new "rememberings" or funny stories to add. You're in my thoughts and prayers. CJ

  12. I am so sorry! She sounded like such a wonderful, caring, trusting soul. She gave you and your brothers such a gift. Please don't forget that in all this. Please know that you and your family are in my heart and prayers.

    Thank you for sharing her with us. Be strong! Take care of you also.


  13. Juls, you made tears well in my eyes. That is so hard to lose someone so dear, who left such a mark on your life and your soul. Wong will be with you, always! Remind you to "No. Get back. Stay." No mater where life takes you. UBER BIG HUG! Love ya girl!

  14. Juls I am so sorry for the loss of your friend. Thank you for sharing the story of you and her and how people touch each other. Hugs are being sent your way.

  15. Awww, Juls, I just read this now. I'm so deeply sorry for such a great lady departing our earth far too soon. The world needs more Wong and all would be right!

    I know you'll keep her memory alive and sweetie, you're a shining example of all she promoted - honesty, faithfulness, love and unending compassion.

    While I'm sure she was proud of you while we were blessed to have her on earth, I KNOW without a shadow of a doubt that she'll send you inspiration forever from above.

    I'm tipping a virtual cocktail for Mrs. Wong, small in size but mighty in love!

    Loveness to you dear friend!

  16. I am sorry I have only read this today. She sounds like she was an amazing lady and definitely a blessing in your life. Think of the wonderful times you and your brothers shared with her to keep you strong.


  17. Juli,
    What a lovely story about a lovely lady. I am so sorry for your loss. Hugs & prayers coming your way today.

  18. I am so sorry for your loss. But think of how wonderful it was that you had her as a part of your life. Just treasure her memory and she will never be gone from your life.

  19. I am so sorry for your loss. Your memories of her are beautiful. Thanks so much for sharing your story with us.