Monday, December 03, 2007

Smoking Truly Kills

My mom just informed me before we left for our weekend trip to Shanghai that our very good family friend John Tsai finally lost his battle with cancer and passed away. I couldn't believe it, first we lost Sun papa and now John Tsai. We fondly called him Shiao Tsai.

Shiao Tsai was a super salesman. It was with pure effort and will that made my dad finally give him a chance to do a sales pitch when my dad was still working for one of the largest electronics companies in Manila. My dad said Shiao Tsai went to his office non-stop for days and sat there doing his own work waiting until my dad was finished with his "meetings". My dad was impressed by Shiao Tsai's tenacity so he finally met with him and the rest is history. The business my dad gave Shiao Tsai contributed to the success of his business. I ended up working for Shiao Tsai when I first moved back to Manila. There was nothing Shiao Tsai wouldn't do for my parents. He was the go to buy whenever we needed help with our car or finding contacts or getting some paperwork done. He was our go-to odds and ends guy. He was indispensable.

Admittedly I wasn't very impressed with Shiao Tsai when I first met him. I found him too eager to please and was like a lost puppy in front of my dad. I guess he felt he owed alot to my dad, thus we was always too happy to help in anything and in anyway. In my eyes I just saw him as a chain smoking Taiwanese business man who finally found his cash-cow, figuratively speaking in my dad. Through my dad a few of Shiao Tsai's friends were able to start their own small businesses because my dad has a hobby investing in anything he can get his hands on. Although none of these business became very successful, it meant more people felt indebted to my dad. Well, at least those with a good conscience. But in the end I've grown to respect Shiao Tsai for all the things I've learned working for him and with him. I may not have agreed with many of his philosophies in life, but he was a good man at heart and a super hard worker.

I also found out one day just how scared he was of death. His office was held in a house. And one day when we got to work, we found out the house directly behind us caught fire the night before and sadly the whole family (minus one child who was having a sleep-over at a friends house) perished in it. They couldn't get out because all their windows were dead-bolted and in their panic, they couldn't unlock their front door. My colleagues said Shiao Tsai was completely freaked out by the incident and couldn't come close to the office until the house behind us was finally demolished and cleared. He was petrified at the fact that people died in the house just behind us. He had higher walls built all around us right after so he wouldn't see it. I just found his whole reaction to the whole thing amusing. But I'm sure he didn't.

Shiao Tsai finally got married a few years later and had a son. I didn't think such a funny looking man who smoked so much would actually get married. But he did. I was really happy for him. Then one day he said the tips of his fingers were feeling numb. He thought nothing of it until it got worse. When he finally got to get it checked the doctors couldn't find anything wrong with him. But one doctor told him to get a scan of his brain. Turns out he had lung cancer and the cancer had already spread to his brain. He finally had to face death himself.

In true Shiao Tsai fashion he quit smoking cold turkey. And with his highly developed web of contacts, found the best Chinese Herbalist/doctor when the western doctors said it was too late to do anything. This Chinese doctor was an old man who only sees terminally ill patients. When he saw Shiao Tsai he took him as a patient. Miraculously, Shiao Tsai lived for many more years. I got to see him when I went back to Manila to hold my wedding reception. He didn't have much hair, but he was alive and well. He started chemo as well to coincide with his Chinese medicines.

The last time I saw him he surprised us at the airport in Manila. His "people" were sent to pick us up and he came along to make sure everything went well. That was around 6 months ago. I had no idea that would be the last time I would see him.

Smoking sucks. There is nothing good about smoking. Whenever I see someone smoking all I feel is anger. I look at them and think about how insulting it is for smokers to just stand there and smoke when there are so many people out there dying of lung cancer. If they feel that life is short and they want to do whatever makes them happy then go jump off a cliff or do something that won't affect other people. Either ways smoking is killing either you or the person who lives with you. Smokers are simply selfish people and addicts. What is the difference between a smoker and a drug addict? Both are addicted to something and can't stop. The only difference is drugs might kill you sooner.

After I moved to Hong Kong, I didn't keep in touch with Shiao Tsai as often. But my parents are truly saddened by his death. Shiao Tsai was like a 3rd son to my parents. He called them Yang mama and Yang baba. I feel really sad for his wife and son. His son will never grow up to know what a funny and strong man his father was. And how his father was such a big part of our family history.

Rest in peace Shiao Tsai we miss you already.