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Dad's Move Project Retrospective

"In any moment of decision the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing." - Theodore Roosevelt (Found on Teri's facebook Profile)

Hope that everyone had a nice Halloween. Before I get into another all-over-the-place post with a long list of lessons learned from recent events, I didn't really get much time to even think of Halloween this year, so no pictures of me and Mayo in a costume. As a concession, here are some photos of us a few weeks ago before my small group went to The Hat in Lake Forest:


This past weekend, by the grace of God, my dad moved to another house a few miles away from his current home. A close friend reminded me that moving is one of the most stressful life events that people can experience. I'm thankful for this reminder because while it was very stressful for many of us to help my dad move, we all worked together and managed to finish. It wasn't easy. I am still in shock that we are done.


Looks like another busy week, with a trip to Norcal tomorrow for a work conference. I hope this busy trend stops soon, perhaps after the holidays are over? If Teri was here, she would ask me about my soul words for the day: Exhausted, Amazed, Humbled.


I'm exhausted because of helping my dad move to a new place, on top of a busy work schedule. I'm still recovering from it. This took a physical and emotional toll, as expected.


I'm amazed because the move is pretty much done ahead of schedule and I was able to have some downtime on Sunday to rest a little bit. There hasn't been much this year that I can think of that finished ahead of schedule. I even made it to my first pumpkin carving event on Saturday. It was fun and great food but probably not in my plan to ever host such an event at my house because I struggle with lots of kids running around.


I'm humbled because I have such great friends and extended family that stepped up when we needed a lot of help. Thank you! I also learned how judgmental and angry I can be with the people closest to me, just like I was with Teri. I am reminded that I have a lot to work on and I need to be patient with the life stage God has put in me in.


Teri and Dad - Not enough quality time together

When dad shared with us earlier this year that he would be moving of the place he's been staying at for 10+ years, I felt overwhelmed. He has a lot of stuff. Heavy, bulky stuff that takes up a lot of space. Since the start of the project, I also wasn't really at capacity to be of much help because of everything that has been going on with me this past year. I've stayed out of the details of the move for the most part and did mostly physical work this past Friday and Saturday. I also knew from experience and helping Teri move to California that it would be a significant amount of work.


To no surprise, I couldn't help but about my relationship with Teri throughout the entire move. I guess that's been the trend with this blog that seems to be pretty obvious by now. I experience daily life, and I share what's on my mind regarding how my relationship with Teri and her passing.


I wish that Teri and my dad got to spend more time together. We had a handful of meals at each other's place. When I would visit my dad to help him with something at his house, Teri would tag along. It was those visits that prompted Teri to want to adopt Mayo from him. Another decision that I was 100% against at first since a dog = more work but am beyond thankful for. Thank you God for Teri, Dad, and Mayo!

Maybe some of you have had pleasant experiences with moving? I haven't experienced one yet, even with hiring movers. For most "normal moves" the process, while stressful, should be straightforward: pack up the belongings, hire a moving company, and set up the new place. But as we started the process, memories, both old and recent, flooded in, making me realize the weight of what we were doing. It felt strangely similar to managing all of Teri's physical assets after she passed away. Everything in April happened so fast with very little time to process any of it. So I better write this now before I forget.


Where is Teri's Stuff? Hopefully in good hands.

The first month after Teri passed away was a complete whirwind. The details are here in my Early May update, but to recap:

  • Sun, 4/2 - Teri passed away @ Hoag Hospital 😭

  • Thu, 4/6 - Celebration of Life Service @ Mariner's Church

  • Fri, 4/21 - Cleaned out her brother John's place of her belongings

  • Sat, 4/22 - Memorial Service @ Holy Vietnamese Martyr's Church

In the face of these events, I found myself naturally slipping into my "Project Manager" mode, which is both my profession and something I genuinely enjoy. Throughout April, a series of decisions about Teri's belongings in Irvine and Atlanta had to be made:

I felt this intense need to quickly decide, almost like I was on autopilot. My aim was simple: minimize possessions while ensuring her belongings went to those who'd cherish them or benefit from them, like friends, family, or the church.


I experienced similar emotions during my dad's recent move. Last week, especially with the pressing deadline to vacate the house by 10/31, there was a heightened urgency. Furniture had to be moved or disposed of, and there was hardly any time to seek consensus on each item. At times, I found myself wishing we could just leave everything behind.


Reflecting on these instances, I recognize that feelings of anxiety, sadness, and overwhelm played a significant role in my decisions. While I believe I made the best choices possible under the circumstances, I now wonder if there were items I inadvertently parted with that I might've wanted to keep? I could have stored everything in my garage, taking a more deliberate approach over time. However, I have faith that everything unfolded as it was meant to.


In the end, what comforts me most is the vast digital archive I have: photos, videos, and journal entries. These memories have kept me engaged and provide solace, assuring me that overall, I'm in a good place.


The Tale of Two Bolts (Disclaimer: Don't try this at home)

On a sort of related note on letting go of stuff, last week, I turned my 2020 Chevy Bolt EV as its lease came to an end. This is a good milestone in itself for me since I don't like to get rid of cars and I always enjoyed driving the Bolt EV since my first one in 2017.


Handing back the Bolt and reflecting on my dad's recent move evoked memories of another not-so-proud moment during my marriage that Teri would bring up for years to come :(


Back in late 2020, while Teri decided to spend a few months in Atlanta, she entrusted me with her 2014 Mazda CX-5. This was also around the time I returned my 2017 Chevy Bolt EV due to its expiring lease. You'd think the CX-5 (which I had chosen for her in 2018) would suffice, right? Wrong. My eyes caught a fantastic deal for a used 2017 Bolt EV online, and I couldn't resist. My anxiety and FOMO got the best of me. I promptly headed to the dealership and made the purchase. If this wasn't impulsive enough, just a few days later, another too-good-to-miss lease deal for a Bolt EV appeared online, and, you guessed it, I leased it...

In a nutshell: Despite having a perfectly good car at my disposal, I added two more to the fleet—all within three days.


I remember driving home from Ventura with Bolt #2, feeling a ton of guilt and shame. I remember calling my dad, trying to convince him that he should buy Bolt #1 from me and sell his current car. I was desperate to make the best of the situation.


Calling my dad out of all people got me thinking about how he is always wanting to help me out when I need him. He's the one who reached out to Teri and I when Mustard passed away and offered up Mayo (Mayo used to live with him since he was a puppy). Dad loves hearing from me every time I call him, and usually open to listening to me when I try to help. But he still got the best of my emotions during the move.


Back to the Bolts. Before you judge, the story only gets better. I informed Teri of my 'shopping spree' AFTER the fact. This might have been a week later, but who's counting. Predictably, she wasn't pleased. Her soul words were most likely furious, angry, and disappointed. Of course, I thought her reaction was a bit unreasonable given I was only trying to take care of the family like I always try to do. Putting my project manager hat back on, I was armed with a list of objective reasons why I made the right decision:

  1. I wasn't keen on driving the CX-5; after all, it was Teri's car (even if I did pick it out for her in 2018).

  2. I wanted a car with a carpool lane sticker to trim my Brea-to-Irvine commute. Time is money, right?

  3. EVs are economical in the long run, saving on fuel costs.

  4. Both deals were really good deals. Plus, I could rent them out if necessary.

  5. It's my money, and I can afford it.

Sounds rational, doesn't it? As you might expect, Teri didn’t see it that way. That phone call did not go well. Similar to last week's story on doing the 5K, this impromptu purchase became on the short list of problems that would come up again and again. Thankfully we moved past it and the cars were put to good use. I'm still quite embarrassed thinking about it.


Lesson learned: Unless its life threatening, try not to make big purchases or big decisions without your spouse or significant other fully aligned.


Wanted: Mind Readers

Despite all that, this past week had some bright spots. One cool thing was when I told several close friends I was dropping off the Bolt at the dealership to return the car, I secretly hoped someone would give me a lift home. Phoebe from small group asked how I was getting back, and when I mentioned Uber, she and Dan offered to pick me up and eat at The Hat, one of my favorite places! Here's a photo of our Small Group going there a few weeks ago, thanks again Les for the T-shirt:

I managed to get a ride home from the dealership, so I actually didn't need a ride home.


This made me think. Why did this simple thing stand out from my week? Maybe it was because they offered help without me asking. I don't like asking for help. I like doing things myself. I always wish more people could just know when I need help. But waiting for people to read my mind isn't a good plan.


Lesson Learned: Asking for help when I need it, and not getting upset if it doesn't work out, is something I need to get better at.


Thanks again Phoebe and Dan for offering the ride!


Back to the Move - Humbled Again

Do you get road rage? Road rage is something I've never experienced. Ironically, I find myself judging those who succumb to it. This week, I asked my friends, some of whom get road rage, to pray for my patience during the moving process. Reflecting on my tendency to be judgmental was a humbling experience.


I often share with my close friends, family, and readers of this blog how eager I am to incorporate the lessons I've learned from Teri's passing into a new relationship. This phase of personal growth, stemming from a unique period in my life, feels like having a new triathlon bike but no race to participate in. However, just like one can still enjoy a bike ride without a race, I too can cherish this growth, even outside of a relationship context. A recent experience of helping my dad move made me realize that I still have aspects of my interpersonal relationships to improve upon.


My recent struggles also include grappling with my judgments of my dad's attachment to certain material possessions, especially some large, heavy pieces of furniture. This led to several heated disagreements over the past month. When I reminisce about impulsive decisions, like buying two cars in three days, I realize all I sought was understanding and was given the benefit of the doubt. I believe my dad seeks the same – not to be simply instructed by his children, but to be heard and understood. It brings to mind the memories of Teri.


Drawing Strength from Daniel 3

In the midst of all these challenging experiences and my struggles with doing the right thing and acting with integrity and faith, I can't help but think about this past Sunday's sermon on Daniel 3 and Teri's blog post in late March, one-week post chemo:

My hope comes from God who sustains me. I trust in His goodness and plan for my life. May His will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. I am reminded of Daniel and his double-fisted faith (Daniel 3:14-18). When faced with King Nebuchadnezzar throwing him and his friends into a furnace for not following the King's god, Daniel -- with one clenched fist -- said "God can rescue us and we believe He will." And then with his second fist, he said "So great, so awesome, so worthy is our God, that even if He chooses not to save us and our bodies burn in the flame, our God is still the one we will follow. We will trust Him in life, and we will trust Him in death." - Teri Edillon Caring Bridge Entry on 3/22/23

There's a lot of takeaways for me. As I reflect on Theodore Roosevelt's words from Teri's Facebook profile, I'm reminded that it's not about making the perfect choice every time, but rather making a choice with conviction and purpose. Sometimes the right thing is clear, other times it isn't, and there are moments where taking any action, even if it turns out to be wrong, is better than standing still, paralyzed by indecision. Last week, whether I was helping my dad move or navigating my own emotional roller coaster through the process, the moments that truly mattered were those where I acted with intention and learned from the outcomes.


Moving, like life, is rarely a straightforward process. It brings to the surface old memories, emotions, and challenges our perceptions of what's important. I get why it can be so stressful and hope to help out others in the future when they need it. Like the moving of physical possessions, life decisions can be weighed down with baggage, both seen and unseen. However, reflecting on Daniel 3 and Teri's words, it's the unwavering faith in our journey and the conviction in our decisions that truly make the difference.


Thanks for reading and continuing to partner with me on this grief journey that never seems to end. As we step into the unknown, let's carry forward with faith, drawing strength from our experiences and always striving to do the right thing.


Have a great rest of the week!

Erwin

Celebration of Life Program Front/Back







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Tiffany Wong
Tiffany Wong
Nov 02, 2023

so glad you're thinking about all these things and learning these very important life lessons. I remember pulling up to your mom's house once and there were so many Mazda hatchbacks in the driveway and around the house. Looked like a Mazda dealership. Not surprised about the Bolts but I'm glad you're learning and growing through it all! Teri got on your case a lot but honestly, from all you've shared... it was such a good thing that she helped you stop and think about your choices. Thank you for being brave and honest and for allowing us to learn alongside you. :)

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Man, I don't know if I have the courage to share about my mistakes the way you do so honestly here. It helps me to want to confess my sin to others more regularly when I see that, despite some serious conflicts, you and Teri still loved each other so much and were able to resolve those conflicts and move on together. Thanks for the encouragement!!

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Jenny Scott
Jenny Scott
Nov 01, 2023

Loved your post, Erwin. I loved the life lesson with the importance of respecting and honoring your spouse with communication, I loved how you shared about Phoebe being so thoughtful. She has that gift. I loved how you shared about being patient and kind to your Dad and I will always think of Teri when I think of Dan. 3

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Gretchen Lai
Gretchen Lai
Nov 01, 2023

The Daniel 3 verse brought a tear to my eye on Sunday as I remembered Teri. She truly had double-fisted faith!

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