My dad Hans was a great man, but he did not think so.
I realize that everything important that I know, I either learned from my Mom Meng, or my Dad probably before I was 10. After that the things I learned were necessary but not as crucial to who I became. Every kid thinks his mom and dad are the best parents ever.And every kid is right.Many kids also start out thinking their parents are never wrong, but we get over that when we hit 13.When dad was wrong or impatient with us, Dad would apologize and we learned it is ok to be wrong and sometimes we need to say sorry to one another.
He taught all his children to be creative by depriving us of TV until we were mostly grown.So I learned to draw and build things and my sisters learned music.We all took years of piano lessons but I wasn't wired for it because I still cant play a note.My sisters Su Ling and Lea went on to play violin and viola in the phoenix youth orchestra.
Dad taught me to respect everyone I met, and not join in when others started speaking badly of someone. He had to correct me to be patient with the elderly, when I got a bit frustrated with the grandparents.
Of course, he trained me as an engineer by letting me work with him even when I was too little to be of any real help. But after years of looking over his shoulder, I learned something else from him. There was never any doubt that he was much smarter than I will ever be, but he always took the time to explain the goal of what we were doing.Once in a while, I realized that I could see a better solution to the problem and I would make a suggestion, he would evaluate it and right away he would abandon his approach for mine. His humility was a good example for me on how to learn from other people.
His love of the outdoors was passed on to all his kids and grandkids on countless camping trips to all corners of the country from Washington state to the Florida Keys. We of course made many friends on these trips because the smell of mom cooking Malaysian food over a campfire or making donuts on a coleman stove would bring them in like mosquitos. We learned to make friends quickly with strangers. Dad would always take us on hikes and show us how to look closely at things, to appreciate the beauty in nature, and to enjoy living simply without having to have the usual comforts. Our annual trips to the Keys were some of the happiest times our family had-we spent every day with mom and dad, swimming, fishing, eating mangos, coconuts, and fresh lobsters dad would catch- what better memories could a kid have.
Mom and Dad made many sacrifices for their children, but of course we thought we were deprived compared to the kids who got toys instead of attention. In looking back I realize that the greatest gift our parents gave us was their time-they gave it freely and in abundance. I am sure my sisters will never forget Dad playing hide and seek with us before bedtime, probably after a bad day at work but we never knew it.My niece MacKenzie sneaked up on me once and she was very happy because she said "I know uncle frank is very tricky." Well I learned from the best because our dad would materialize someplace we knew was empty. He had this really wicked sounding wolf howl so us finding him had the pretty much the same effect as stepping on a land mine. Years later he told us how he would hide in the attic and then sneak into a place we had already searched but we never caught on.We never lacked for love from our parents while were growing up, the time they gave us was worth much more than anything they could buy, because only the time spent together weaves the memories that make us who we are.
My wife Beth says funny things in her sleep and sometimes she hits me and claims she does'nt remember it and therefore isn't responsible. But once she sat up in a panic and demanded "Who are you? ....Who am I?" I laughed about it as nonsense then, but I realize now those are really good questions to ask. And each of us here today are who we are because of what we were given from our parents, coupled with what we have exchanged with our friends. Many of you here don't realize it but some of you in little ways and some of you in profound dramatic ways have changed and become a part of who Hans was.From working with you and playing with you he became the man he was when he died, Hans never stopped learning from you. And I am sure that all of you are also somehow subtly different from having known my Father.I want to thank all of you not for being here for his death but for being part of his life and helping him to enjoy it which he did until the last microsecond.
There are also other people here that need to be thanked. Dennis Araiza, Thadeus Jones,Debbie and Robert Good, Terry and Tammi Brogdon, and their cousin Dave Pratt, all responded to my open letter but I know there are many others who assisted whose names I don't yet know. You tried to save a downed pilot submerged in a murky lake. Some of you risked your own lives by diving in to try to free him from the plane. Others acted quickly with insight typical of boaters, handling ropes and maneuvering boats to tow the plane to shore when he could not be freed. Others, despite the terrible trauma his body sustained, gave him CPR and mouth to mouth to try to resuscitate him. I know some of you feel you did not do enough, were not quick enough or maybe did the wrong thing and because of the outcome you are suffering guilt. There is no doubt in my mind that you all did everything possible, you did not know you were trying to save a man already dead. The family is comforted greatly because we don't have the lingering question of "what if only somebody was there to help him." Thank you all and we look forward to talking with you at the reception following.
Also, the family invites all here to Mike and Lea's house for a reception where there will be food and drink. And also a chance for Hans' pilot and work friends to tell us a story or two over a beer. Thank you all again for coming today.