This is the very first photo of Gee and I together that I e-mailed out to our friends back in September of 1999. This was taken in her new apartment when she first moved to Seattle for grad school. We had just gotten engaged when this photo was taken on September 19, 1999, two months and nine days after we met.
I had originally asked Gee to marry me on our third date, just two weeks after we had met. Her answer was very telling. She said, “No, not yet.”
What I didn’t realize is how smart, gracious, compassionate and sneaky a woman Gee was. While I was out in Seattle, helping Gee get settled into her new life and grad school after a cross-country drive with her, Gee got me to ask her to marry me a second time.
It wasn’t the most typical proposal, but I am sure it was exactly what Gee wanted to happen. It was a little after eight in the morning on the 19th of September. I had been out in Seattle for over a week helping Gee. I had been out there longer than I had originally planned and was leaving the next day to drive back to Virginia.
I had cooked breakfast for Gee and we had a busy day of shopping and unpacking planned. I was standing at the kitchen sink, washing the breakfast dishes, when Gee walked up behind me and put her arms around my waist and kissed the back of my neck and said, “I love you. I really, really love you.”
Somehow, I knew Gee wanted me to ask her to marry me again, so I turned around and asked Gee if she would marry me. This time she said yes. I think that Gee had planned on us getting engaged on the 19th of September intentionally, knowing that it would give me a happy memory to offset the horror of losing my identical twin brother on that same day 12 years earlier.
I could never get Gee to admit that she had planned that, but I know her—I know that’s why she told me “No, not yet,” two months earlier. She was sneaky like that and loved me that much.
We only told two people that day that we were engaged. The first was my best friend from college, Brad, and his response was, “What took you so long?”
The other person was Gee’s best friend from college, Woo. Woo’s response was, “How the hell can you be engaged? I haven’t even met him yet.” Woo told Gee that she couldn’t be officially engaged until she had met me and approved of me. Gee asked me if that was okay. I laughed and said, “I don’t really have any choice, do I?” We wouldn’t get Woo’s approval until after the New Year, three-and-a-half months later.
One of the best descriptions of Gee that I have ever heard was from the first e-mail that I ever got from Woo. Woo had been describing Gee when she wrote, “Yet we get to know her, love her and be loved by her, how privileged are we?”
It is still the best description of the woman I had the honor of marrying 13 years ago.
Almost 12 years ago, on the 11th of June, 2001, I lost my beautiful and most gracious wife Gee to pancreatic cancer. We had been together for 23 months and one day, and married for seven months and seven days to the hour.
I learned a long time ago that we have a choice, we can laugh or we can cry….and laughing is a lot easier to clean up after. I’ve been very lucky in some ways, less so in others, but some of the people I have had the honor to share my life with have taught me how amazing life can be, even life after losing my twin brother. Gee was one of these incredible people. This is how we met.
Almost 14 years ago I met Gee, my late wife, on a blind date. My parents had given me Gee’s phone number after visiting Dr. Ju, a friend of my mother and Gee’s father. My parents were heading back up to Boston and were staying a couple of days before finishing the drive back
I called Gee’s phone number on Friday afternoon. Someone answered the phone and I asked “Is this Gee?” She said, “Yes, this is Gee.” I told her that I had gotten her phone number from my parents via Dr. Ju and we started talking. We spoke for over an hour during that first phone call, eventually setting up a lunch date for the next day. I knew I was going to marry her the first time I heard her voice.
Next, I called up my best friend, Brad, who eventually was the best man at our wedding and told him, “Brad, I just spoke to the woman I am going to marry.”
Brad asked me how I could possibly know that, especially seeing as I hadn’t even met the woman yet. I told him that “I have heard the voice I have been waiting all my life to hear—a voice that sounds like home.”
A half-hour before the blind date, I was told by my parents that I was going out with the “not-pretty” sister. This was what they had been told by the person who had essentially setup the blind date and not something I wanted to hear as I was headed out to meet Gee.
It was raining lightly when I got to the restaurant. I went in and got a table. I knew the restaurant’s owner and his family since I had been introduced to them by a friend. It was a few minutes before one, the time Gee was supposed to meet me at the restaurant.
The rain stopped at one and a couple of minutes later a beautiful woman walked by the front window of the restaurant. I thought to myself, that can’t possibly be her, she is far too beautiful. When the beautiful woman in the navy blue slip dress walked into the restaurant and spoke to the hostess, she was directed to my table. It turns out the amazingly beautiful woman was indeed Gee.
The second thought that popped into my head was, “If this is the “not-pretty” sister, what the hell does her sister look like.” I think it was an honest question that any man would have asked. As it turns out, Gee is the pretty sister—more than pretty in fact. Gee’s little sister Michelle is cute—she is like a Korean Meg Ryan, but she is not as beautiful as her older sister.
I told Gee what my second thought was on our second date. She elbowed me and said, “Men.” I laughed and said that it was really the most honest response to seeing such a beautiful woman.
Gee and I think we know how the misinformation happened. Gee’s little sister is the same age as Dr. Ju’s daughter and good friends with her. Because of that, Dr. Ju saw Michelle fairly regularly, but hadn’t seen Gee in over ten years. We guessed that Dr. Ju was going to call the sister that they knew better the pretty one.
I later found out that Dr. Ju had originally tried to set Michelle up on the blind date with me, but my father-in-law had changed it because he wanted his older daughter to meet me first. I have been very grateful that Dr. Kim, my father-in-law made that decision so many years ago.
We spent almost two hours at the restaurant eating lunch, talking and getting to knew each other on that first date. Gee told me she was leaving for a short trip to Seattle. She was going to be gone a week and we planned to have a second date when she got back.
What I later found out, two days after Gee died, from Sophie, her roommate at the youth hostel during the week Gee was in Seattle, was that Gee had told Sophie that she had just started dating a guy named Dan and that she thought he was the one. This was after just a single date and two phone calls. I guess we both just knew.