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The Miracle of 29 December

Sinee (I can't pronounce her real name) grew up in the North of Thailand, where everyone has enough to eat, but school didn't go past elementary. She wanted better for her kids and moved to Bangkok, where they have better schools. She taught herself Chinese, because it is as useful as English there. Somewhere along the line her husband walked out, and she was struggling mightily to feed her kids and get them an education ever since.

My son Mike went through a traumatic time her in California and eventually let an old friend talk him into coming to Thailand to teach English. He met Sinee and her two kids and, when his teaching job dried up (apparently for the same reasons that one of my daughters lost her position: money) he came back to America a man on a mission.

He got a job driving trucks and became known as the guy who wouldn't turn down any overtime and hired a lawyer in Thailand to get her a fiancee visa. Since Sinee had worked in a television factory in Taiwan for a while, another lawyer (in Taiwan) had to verify that she hadn't committed any crimes while there.

One problem after another came up, making me think his lawyer was just milking him for all she could get. It took so long that the lawyer had to apply for an extension on her visa, and then get to work on the kids, who were supposed to be automatic. Her ex husband had to give permission for his kids to leave the country, various sorts of interviews had to be undertaken. Did you know our government charges for immigration interviews? I didn't.

After eighteen months and about ten thousand dollars, it was all set. Mike got a call on the 28th that she and the kids had gotten on the airplane in Thailand, which flew straight to Japan. There would be a two hour layover there, which is cutting it kinda close if you ask me, but we're not made out of money and these were the ones we could afford. For the next day or so, she might as well have been on the far side of the moon. We all figured that if she missed her flight or something, we would get a call from Delta Airlines, so we went to SFO at 8 A.M. to greet her. An hour went by, then two.

Her flight had arrived all right, but there was some kind of problem. At first it was thought to be the whole process getting jammed up by some folks trying to smuggle some stuff into the country. Mike, who had left his cell phone in his car, dispatched his sister to retrieve it and found a message from immigration. The kids visas were fine, but the lawyer had not extended her visa in a proper fashion. They told her that the kids (seventeen and twelve) could stay, but she would have to go back.

I don't know where that idea came from that Asian women are submissive. She told them she was NOT leaving the country without talking to her fiance. When my anguished son finally got the message and called them, someone with higher authority had been consulted and reasoned that no sane person would fly halfway around the world knowing there was a problem with their visa and simply gave her an extension so that she could accompany her kids to America and marry the man who had worked sixty and seventy hour weeks for a year and a half to make it happen.

If your opinion of government functionaries, in this country or any others, is anything like mine, you too believe that you just witnessed a miracle. My opinion of lawyers remains unchanged.