My parents, siblings and I grew up in Fresno.
Mom and Dad bought our family house for about $11,000 in 1955–a half year before I was born. Dad said he never wanted to move again. And this is still our family home.
Mom was born at Bernett’s Sanitarium in 1934 long before its name was changed to Community Hospital. And I was born in Community Hospital.
Two and a half years later, my sister was born at the old original Saint Agnes Hospital. And, then when my sister and I were ten and thirteen, Mom and Dad announced they were expecting our baby brother or sister.
David Number 1 - Our Little Brother
When David, my little brother, was born, the doctor noticed my brother’s heartbeat was too slow and concluded he was in trauma, so he called for an emergency C-section. During the surgery, my mother became infected with e-coli which the doctors would kill off with antibiotics only to have her blood clots dissolve and release live bacteria back into her system.
Of the four women who came down with this malady that year, only my mother survived. One doctor prescribed a strong anti-coagulant to dissolve the clots before giving her the antibiotic killing the bacteria in her system once and for all, and she survived.
Meanwhile, my baby brother’s doctors said my brother would not likely survive long past childbirth, and if he did, he would need heart surgery. His heart did not actually slow down before childbirth. Rather he suffered from Patent Ductus Artiosus. He would need a tube to be closed surgically. He also had a complete heart block of signals between the top and bottom half of his heart.
One miracle and advancements in medicine and amazing dedicated doctors helped my brother have a great childhood and life into adulthood. However, we almost lost him at 22 and he remained handicapped until he passed away at 39.
Back to me - My Hobbies
My love for music, math, science, and photography were seen early in life. I played trombone and planned to do so professionally. I participated in competitions at the county and state level and had music scholarships. When my parents wanted to take us on vacation, I would insist on bringing my trombone to practice or else I would stay home to practice.
I was nearly as serious about my photography. By 13, I won a state wide photography contest with a picture of two kittens in boots and the picture was in the June 1971 edition of Life Magazine, Motorola’s corporate magazine, and The Farm Bureau Monthly. As a 4-H member in Photography, I attended the leadership conference at U.C. Davis three times as a delegate, as a Junior Leader Merit Award Winner, and as an All-Star, the top county rank in 4-H.
In school, I was about 4 years ahead in mathematics, and this ended up being my major in college. Initially, I started out as a music and religion major then changed to Architecture out of my interest in acoustics. However, no acoustics major existed so I started out with Architecture, switched to Electrical Engineering, and found myself close to minors in both Math and Physics, and I completed those. I also competed Fresno State’s math competition taking first place one year and second place the other.
And I worked my way through school programming computers because math and computers came naturally for me.
From Agnostic to Christian and Church Involvment!
I fell in love with a church in high school as I felt loved. The other kids prayed for us and our family and my parents, sister, and I were baptized on Valentine’s Day 1974. Soon after, we became involved in a youth choir and traveled to churches along the way to Portland, Oregon and back down to Fresno again, and many of us hold that memory precious to this day.
I loved the church so much as it took on different ministries–a brass ministry of trombones and trumpets and a handbell choir. And then several young adults got together and bought two busses to start a bus ministry to children and a children’s church to reach out to unchurched children in the community.
Unfortunately, a conflict arose in the church when the church board decided to sell the busses and buy mini-vans that could be used to bring elderly people to events at night. But what would happen with all the children? About 30 adults involved with the bus ministry left the church and one older lady and I were left to drive the two vans and run the entire bus ministry, and we stayed with it for about ten years until it died out from attrition.
Church, Indonesian Style
While finishing my degree, I worked in the newly formed Computer Science Department at Fresno State where I became close to an Indonesian community of college students. They invited me to visit their church, and I fell in love with it the first day I went. I did not know what in the world they were talking about, but they loved God and they loved each other and the church just melted my heart.
But of course I was “just visiting”.
Or so I thought.
Well, that was about thirty five years ago when we had 4 churches in Fresno, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Stillwater, Oklahoma. Now it has formed into two church organizations with about 4,000 churches worldwide. I learned to speak the language fairly fluently, fell in love, married an Indonesian, and remained married almost ten years.
That marriage was blessed and troubled. We had a beautiful daughter, Michelle, and my career continued to rise in the bay area as I worked for NASA, Ingres, Oracle, PeopleSoft, and a successful startup called Clickmarks. And we lived in a beautiful home in Pleasanton, California next to a sports park.
Unfortunately, my ex suffered from bipolar disorder and became involved with another man ending our marriage. I tried and prayed for about a year to save the marriage before returning to my old house in Fresno, to family, and to my old Indonesian church where many of the people I love most are.
Joy Overshadows Tragedy
God seemed to move heaven and earth to bring Eileen and me together, and we were married in that Indonesian Church where the Pastor is one of my two best friends. We had laughs when somebody would visit from out of town and upon seeing my wife, who is Singaporean, they would assume she spoke Indonesian, and when she would give them a blank look, I would let them know, in Indonesian, that she doesn’t understand Indonesian. And they would look at me incredulously as I am a tall, white American who should not be speaking Indonesian.
Our wedding was very simple and very precious and beautiful. It was not extravagent and big like my first wedding, but it was much more precious, faithful, solid, happy, and enduring.
In August 2012, we were blessed with a son.
Eileen and I have been happily married now for 13 years.
Forward to the Past - My Kids
My daughter, Michelle, is now a software engineer living with her husband on the Oregon/Washington border. Eileen and my son, David, named after my brother, is eight years old in third grade and well on his way to becoming a mathematician. When he was 3 1/2 years old, I returned from work to be greated by him at the door with news about power sets, Banach-Tarski, and the Hilbert Hilton to illustrate different kinds of infinity. And he has been interested in infinity ever since.
When he was 2 or 3, he wanted to be a game show host, so he would watch episodes of Who Wants to be a Millionaire and memorize all the answers to all the shows. At about 3 or 4.
Well, this is all about my kids. My ex was Chinese Indonesian, so I learned to speak Indonesian over the years as did my daughter. But my wife, Eileen is Singaporean and speaks three dialects of Chinese in addition to English. But English is the only language we share, so our son, David has not had much of a chance to become bilingual. I have put in a little effort to learn some Chinese, but my Spanish is stronger as a third language than my Chinese.
Still, he says I know “everything”. It won’t be long before that notion wears off, though, to be replaced by a “Dad knows nothing”, then, “Maybe Dad’s not quite so dumb”, and finally, “Dad has become kind of wise in the last few years, at least concerning beliefs of antiquity (the early 2000s)”.
All in all, life is precious. And when life gets so tough that you want to give up, remember that there will be a time when you will thank God for all the joy and hope that faith and love bring.