Dr. Sei-Jong Chung

My father was a very private man. He passed away on July 11, 2019, and we did not have a service for him in Georgia, where he lived. Instead, we will have it at my house on September 12. Here is his obituary:

Dr. Sei-Jong Chung, passed away in the early evening hours of Thursday, July 11, 2019 at his home in Lawrenceville, GA. He left this world peacefully, with his loving wife, our mother Jung-Yoon Chung, by his side. As he waged a short, but courageous battle against lung cancer, he discovered a peace and joy with his family and friends he had never previously known. For this, we are eternally grateful.

Born in South Korea, he was the fifth of eight children and displayed an exceptionally inquisitive and academic mind. As a young immigrant and college student, Sei-Jong performed many odd jobs, including serving at restaurants and shoveling coal so college students could enjoy hot water. As he worked to earn his advanced college degrees, he also mentored students and Korean immigrants. On several occasions, he exchanged his skills as a technical English reader and writer for other services. It is because he possessed such expertise that we, his three offspring, were able to take Tae Kwon Do lessons and attain black belts.

After earning his PhD in Operations Research, Sei-Jong was a professor at St. Ambrose College and Northern Illinois University. As a father, he favored the “tough love” style with intentions of preparing us for a tough world. He never allowed us to believe we were victims of any circumstance or person. We were raised to believe we were the captains of our ships and that is an invaluable lesson.

During his final months, he shared with all of us the memories of the life he lived so purposefully, the people who made his journey worthwhile, and the many lessons he learned along the way.

He remains an inspiration to his family, friends and former students, and his intellect, quick wit and generosity will be greatly missed by all who knew him.

 

 

So Emotional (art prompt)*

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This prompt brought me to the source of our strongest emotions of late: grieving. My father was diagnosed with lung cancer on April 1st and passed away on July 11th. In that short span of time, I stayed with my parents a lot in Georgia, away from my desert home in Arizona. The colors of the lush foliage surrounded me as I took walks as breaks from caregiving.  Friendly neighbors smiled and waved and I felt welcome and an unexpected sense of peace.

 

*creativebug.com (Sokol)

Bereavement

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I thought I had Byron Katie’s philosophy on death mastered. Consider death differently. Let go of stressful thoughts. It’s egoic to want someone to still be alive if they died. No one dies “too soon.” Resisting reality only causes pain. Yes, I get that.

But then a very good friend passed away today and I can’t help but cry and feel the loss of his physical presence. Someone who gave so much of himself is now gone. How to reconcile this?

Tomorrow is a new day. His children and his wife will feel his absence. We all will. As Katie says, life is a recycling circuit. Nothing happens too soon. Everything happens “just right” and I must trust this is true, even though it doesn’t feel that way right now.