Saturday, December 17, 2005

For Jasmin

17 December 2005

About 4am Baghdad time, I received some very sad news. Jasmin Kung passed away Wednesday morning after a massive cardiac arrest at work on Monday morning. Jasmin and I were stationed together for three years in the Air Force at Kalkar Air Station, a little GSU (Geographically Separated Unit) out in the middle of farm country about 60 kilometers northwest of Cologne. We were all of about 125 active duty Air Force people, so we developed a very close sense of community and continuity.

Within the last couple of years, all us former “Kalkarites” started reconnecting and reuniting with the introduction of the Kalkarites site. Our times at Kalkar, even though it is over 15 years past, still stuck in our memories and for most of us were remembered as very good times with people who bacame as close to us (if not closer in some cases) as our own brothers and sisters back home. That says so much about the people and the assignment.

So, where do I start? Jasmin was a German linguist in Kalkar and worked at the German/American Liason office. As she explained to us, her Mom was German and her biological Dad was Chinese. After her Mom divorced her Dad, she married an American serviceman. Both Jasmin and her sister ended up becoming American citizens and both went into the Air Force. In fact, some people that worked with Jasmin in Kalkar had also worked with her sister at Hickham AFB in Hawaii.

Jasmin was the one behind our field trips to different Chinese restaurants all over Netherlands and the Niederrhein areas. From Kleve to Nijmegen and S’Herenberg to Goch. We tried about all of them! Right from the beginning, Jaz insisted that if we were going to eat Chinese, we had to learn to do it correctly with chop sticks. Our group mastered the chop sticks quite well with her instruction. That was when I was first introduced to squid too!

Jasmin was just enthusiastic about life in general. She liked to have fun and shared her zest for living. I can still remember her getting the “Aunt Jemima treatment” from Bert (reminiscent of the scene from Stripes with Bill Murray) on the electric stove at that party in Oybaum. The party had migrated to the kitchen and Jaz was sitting on the stove in her pink blouse and black leather skirt. Bert grabbed the spatula and started to scrape her off the stove like a pancake.

To skip ahead in time, Jasmin recently retired from the Air Force. She married a guy that she was crazy about and they settled down in Brandon, Florida. She didn’t have any children, but she did involve herself in several groups working to help animals. In fact, she and another woman worked to establish a capture/neuter&spay/release program for feral cats. She never believed that capture and kill was the answer. She seemed to have really found what she wanted in life on all fronts.

I’m having a very hard time summing up the loss I feel inside right now. I guess we never really appreciate or realize the depth at which someone touches us and our lives until we discover that our opportunity to have that person in our lives again has been extinguished. For some, it is easy to let people go. I’ve always had a hard time letting go. The people I’ve had in my life are what has made me who I am today. The only way the world now can remember how Jasmin has impacted my life is for me to pass on in some way, shape or form, that part of her that she gave me. Maybe that means that I have to take my nephews and niece out for Chinese and teach them to eat with chopsticks…I don’t know. I only know that right now, I am sad inside.

Her husband, Derek sent this in his email that I received this morning:
“Jasmin worked selflessly with Linda Hamilton to open this first low-cost spay-and-neuter clinic in Tampabay by early ’06. This endeavor was to be Jasmin’s “dream job” as she would be able to dedicate even more of herself to saving innocent animals through TNR. Contributions can be made to (the Animal Coalition of Tampa, Project Lotto)
Jasmin has hit the front page of the largest cat organization in the US. I would be honored if you would go to to read the memorial written about my wife who has passed this week.”
Hi Dave

We feel very sad now we got your message that Jasmine passed away.
And though it has been a long time since we met her in Nijmegen and Kalkar, we still feel her warm friendship. Too young and unable to finish what she was working for, the good matter.
Another good reason to make the very best of our life!

Dave, be carefull overthere and stay safe!
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