A few years ago, I wrote about the wonders that e-mail has brought into my life. Through e-mail, I’ve been able to view hour-old babies, Halloween costumes, my son’s new apartment, as well as shop for bargains at L.L. Bean.
I recently recorded a piece for Vermont Public Radio and several of my friends e-mailed me, saying they enjoyed hearing it on the radio as well as from the VPR web site. My computer equipment is relatively old_four years_ and offers very basic services at best. So it did not surprise me when we could not pick up the audio version of the column from the web site.
However, it was something of a surprise when my friend in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, did.
Soo Ewe Jin served an internship at the Reformer back in 1986 and it was my pleasure to get to know him when he worked the night shift for a period of time. He and I even covered a small fire at St. Michael’s Catholic Church late one evening and I still have the photo of us interviewing the fire chief at the scene.
When this gentle, amazingly accomplished journalist left to return to his home so far away, we all felt a loss; he had become a special part of our team, and a Red Sox fan to boot.
As my co-editor, Mark Tarnacki, drove him to the airport in Keene, N.H., he said goodbye to all the fast food restaurants we night-shift journalists had frequented together during his stay in Brattleboro.
Over the years we have stayed in touch through the wonders of e-mail. He kept us up on his life as an editor of a Kuala Lumpur weekend newspaper, his long battle with cancer and his beloved family. Via e-mailed photos we were able to see and appreciate his beautiful wife. His two handsome sons grew to young men on our computer screens. He even sent pictures of his father’s ancestral home, just to give a bit of the flavor of his life.
He’s the only Malaysian I’ve ever known, and because of my friendship with him, I perk up at any news from that country. We have a map of the world that covers a whole wall in our computer room. News junkie that I am, I consult it frequently to keep up with what’s going on everywhere. I worried about Ewe Jin during the tsunami tragedy and e-mailed him, expressing my concern. But he assured me, via e-mail, that although it was too close for comfort, he was never in danger.
He keeps in touch with news of Vermont. He wrote recently that he gets a kick out seeing Patrick Leahy in the news because he had enjoyed the opportunity to meet the senator back in Brattleboro.
I may complain (who, me?) about the spam and pop-ups, and the endless jokes from friends that tie up my e-mail for hours, but I do appreciate the blessing of keeping in touch with a treasured friend, who happens to live half way around the world.