In memoriam - Yai Wan

Anna Nuwan Beng-In (1954-2019)

Sarnelli House lost our best house mother on September 20. Yai (Grandma) Wan was a quiet, good humored lady who was in charge of our 23 girls at Jan & Oscar House. She was one of those persons people take for granted. She and her girls grew a vegetable garden and raised mushrooms. She kept an eye on our rice granary. She made sure no wet or damp rice was put in the granary, which would have ruined a lot of stored rice. She took in girls who got in trouble from our other two houses. Those housemothers would seek to eject troubled, angry, rebellious girls. Wan would quietly accept them and these girls all quieted down and basked in her love and concern for them. Wan had the least school education of any of the head house mothers, but she was head and shoulders above them in dealing with abused, angry, rejected children. 
About two weeks before she died, she complained a little about having acute indigestion. Wan went to the Nongkhai Provincial hospital and they found blocked veins to her heart. She was taken to the Cardiac Care Unit in the Udorn hospital, where they ballooned the veins, but Wan’s diabetes kicked in and her kidneys failed. Her blood pressure was low, and she died during dialysis. Two weeks before, right after her heart operation, I went to Udorn to give her the Anointing of the Sick. She looked at me and squeezed my hand, and tears came from her eyes. Wan had never been hospitalized, and the various procedures she was put through must have terrorized her. On September 20, I returned to Udorn just as they were giving her dialysis. Before I left Udorn to head north to Sarnelli, Wan’s daughters phoned to tell me that her heart had failed, so I rushed back. By then she was at peace with the Lord. I believe the children that had been with us and passed away, were her honor guard to the throne of God. At the first night of the wake, Father Ole and I both broke down crying at different times during the Mass. At the second night of the wake and the day of the burial, young people who were little people under Wan’s care, all showed up. I had her buried in the children’s cemetery, with the wee children she raised; sat with them at their suffering and passing, and grieved for them all. At Wan’s wake and funeral, it was our turn to feel deep sorrow and loss with copious tears, especially her girls from Jan & Oscar House. Most of those girls felt they were orphaned once more and wept bitterly.  
Wan began working with me 26 years ago, when I was appointed rector of the community and novice master at St. Alphonsus monastery in Nongkhai, she came with me to cook for the community of priests and novices. When I started taking in little kids who were abandoned, and in some cases, already sick from Aids, it was Wan and her niece Peh (who joined Wan as assistant cook and laundress), who found a place for them to sleep. The first two abandoned little girls were Miss Noon, 6 years old, and her cousin, 3 year old Haew. Noon will now take the head mother’s job at Jan & Oscar, having spent time working with children, and getting invaluable training from Wan.  Haew has just finished college, having studied to be a sport’s teacher. She graduated too late to apply for a job this year, and is 23 and my designated driver.
Please offer a prayer for Yai Wan and the children she left behind.

Father Mike

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