Looking through his camera lens while wearing sunglasses on top of his hat, Uncle, a retired naval officer, said, “This year is the 60th anniversary of my marriage with the same lady.” The house he had built with his own two hands and lived in for 45 years was completely burnt down.
Originally from Los Angeles where he had lived for 15 years, Uncle is a former mechanic who had built two houses in his lifetime before becoming a naval officer. His wife was hesitant to make the initial shift to Paradise City, as she had become accustomed to the life they made together in Los Angeles, especially in their house.
To accommodate his wife, Uncle decided to make a replica of their current home in Paradise City. Shortly after the construction of their new home was complete, they moved in.
Uncle felt very fortunate that he and his wife were able to stay out of harm’s way in the wake of the Camp Fire, which he attributes to their luck. The only things he was able to keep safe from the Camp Fire flames were his Navy key rings and necklaces.
Along with his family, all of their pets made it out safely during the Camp Fire. Uncle then took out his wallet and showed pictures of his five pets.
Uncle’s family consisted of his wife, daughter, grandson and granddaughter. His daughter was adopted, and Uncle states it was due to the innate beauty of her face. Their grandson was adopted by his daughter, who also has intrinsic beauty. Uncle’s grandson is currently an active soldier on the East Coast and has an hearing impairment. His grandson routinely comes home to visit the family during the Thanksgiving holiday.
Author Zhong Ling deeply respects how much Uncle cherishes his children, as Uncle carries their childhood photos in his small wallet as a token of his love. Zhong admires this expression of love, and is impressed by how the photos are still in great condition.
Uncle is thankful that his whole family is now safe and is grateful to everyone who has wished them blessings. He is thankful to the Tzu Chi volunteers for their assistance and is currently working hard to find a new home for his family. Uncle reaffirms that he will stay in the area and work with other locals to rebuild their Paradise. Many people still call the area “Heaven.”
Uncle wants to rebuild the lush greenery of the area and soon plans to grow trees, even if it takes more than 20 years for them to be fully grown. He expresses that he is no longer afraid of the fire, and with that sentiment, Zhong became filled with positive energy.
Zhong felt grateful to have had the opportunity to hear stories from someone as inspiring as Uncle.