I have sad news to share. I came back from an overseas trip to Hong Kong because my dad passed away. It was sudden (so sudden in fact that the police came and required an autopsy before they can clear the case from foul play).
When I heard the news, I had to scramble to figure out how to get back there. Normally, you book the earliest flight possible and you are set. But this year is different because there’s this virus floating around called COVID-19. Hong Kong requires everyone coming from the United States to show a negative test result for the virus within 72 hours of flight departure. And because of the pandemic decimating the travel industry, there are no longer flights every day. To add to the complexity, labs don’t run tests for results every day either, and they don’t really give you an exact time of when they actually test your samples.
Luckily, Emma found a local lab where we were able to actually talk to the people in the lab and they helped us out by running the test that day so I could fly out. And I’m glad we had their email address too because they sent us the result after hours the night of the flight and they left out the middle name, an omission that the Hong Kong government website specifically called out as a reason for the flight crew to deny me onboard.
The test cost $135, but that turned out to be a tiny portion of the expenses. My sister strongly suggested that I fly business class so I don’t get stuck in the middle seat and risk catching the bug. I would normally flatly reject that idea, but then fear kicked in. What if I actually catch the disease? Wouldn’t catching the virus just because I refused to pay more become the biggest regret of my life? I agreed, and then I find out that the business class tickets are no longer around $4,000 but it’s $7,000. WOWZERS. I close my eyes and pay. As it turned out, the flight was so empty it didn’t matter where I was sitting, but fear has a way to grow tiny issues into huge ones. And in this case, it cost me about $6,000. I did get better food though!
But it gets better…
Because of our country’s solid handling of the pandemic, the Hong Kong government rewarded people coming from the United States (along with only six other countries in the entire world) a 14 full day quarantine at a hotel room of our choice. So instead of being able to be with my mom during this difficult time, I get to be in a luxury of isolation for 14 days. Fortunately, hotel rooms all cut their prices pretty drastically. Unfortunately, a 14 night stay still costs another $1,600 or so.
After those 14 days, I’m now extremely well versed in killing time. I also get to be one of the few people in the world who have cleaned their own hotel toilets.
With funeral costs and everything else, the trip cost around $10,000. I understand that the bulk of the cost is that plane ticket I could’ve avoided, but it would have been $5,000 even with an economy class ticket.
Thank God for emergency funds. Thank God I saved. If not, then I’m going to dip into my credit card and then pay 20%+, or $1,000+ a year extra on interest until I pay that amount back.
Do you see how people get in trouble without an emergency fund even if they are theoretically living below their means in normal times?
My dad could be a difficult man to be with. He is a good person with good intentions, but he also has strong views and can heat up a debate in a jiffy. It didn’t help that he wasn’t a good communicator. That’s why he’s often misunderstood, turning little issues into huge ones as he tries to explain his position. It was difficult for my mom, but she handled it as well as anybody could.
In a way, dad gave us all a gift by leaving the world the way he did. People close to me have had to help their loved ones battle health issues for years. It was a life of hospitals and doctors. It was hard.
My mom had to take care of my grandmother who had Alzheimer’s disease for many years. It took a toll on her, and it’s a full time and a half job I don’t wish upon anybody.
It was as if my dad just decided that he wasn’t going to cause anybody any trouble in his old age. One day, he just got up and said “okay, bye!” and left.
He came into the world and caused quite a stir, but he left the world in peace without disturbing a speck of dust. I feel a void whenever I see anything that brings back memories of him, but that void is filled with my appreciation of him.
For his care.
For his life lessons.
For just being him.
See you one day dad!