Out hunting for internet yesterday and I found Maar Noo out hunting!

I was out riding the motorbike on the back roads and I came across Maar Noo in a part of the area she never goes too.

With the heavy rains she was setting fish traps, and getting a great haul too, including these land crabs which are pickled and eaten when 2months old.

For those fairly new to my writing, Maar Noo was my daughters first "Nanny" or as we say, "Second Mummy" up here.

I wrote this story three years back, be warned, it contains strong language, but deservedly so, but it's a story worth repeating, because it shows just how tough this lady, who weighs about 36 kg dry, and works so hard, is, and how hard the people i live are. And I'm pretty proud to live with them, so her's her story -and remember, the photo's are from yesterday, the events I wrote about happened a three years back now.

Mar Noo is, as Jing-Joe my daughter calls her, “My second mummy”. She's called Mar (Mother) Noo (mouse) as she is smaller even than my wife, a tiny lady.

As a baby from 0 - 1, her first year, Mar Noo spent many hours a day looking after Jing-Joe, and as Jing-Joe grew in the village, Mar Noo was the woman Jing-Joe often turned too when she had a problem, or just wanted a cuddle, a voice that loved her without judgment.

As Jing-Joe said to me just a few months ago, “Mar Noo she love me so much, she my second mummy, and she never spank me, never yell at me, never talk hard at me, no matter how I am bad, she just love me”.

Being a parent isn't easy, sometimes you have to be firm, speak firmly, give some time out, but for a child, to have a friend, a refuge, somewhere to run with no questions asked, who loves you regardless, is priceless thing.

From a 5 year old, to understand that undiminished love, unconditional love, love requiring no return, that is a huge leap of faith, of trust, and was rewarded by the love given by Mar Noo.

Mar Noo loved Jing-Joe without a thought, without hesitation. Mar Noo, she just loved Jing-Joe, and Jing-Joe, she just loved Mar Noo her "second mother".

Now I know you are all thinking about an old, wrinkly woman in a village, and yes, Mar Noo was an older lady, but she was full of life. Just as my Aunt Ruth who is over 90, and still giggles like a little girl when I call her on the phone, Mar Noo is ageless, NO, that's wrong, she is forever young, and has all the optimism and spirit, of youth.

A few years back at the Bangkok ICT show, after CNN did the big story on the Sat-Ed and the Village and how we had the most advanced ICT in the world in a tiny village, the Thai government wanted to showcase us, so Charkrit my COO's idea was to “Make” a little village inside the HUGE Impact ICT Hall in Bangkok

It was quite a laugh, all these villagers and bamboo huts weaving silk, with encoders and IPTV Video on Demand, Village Kids making MPEG2 Video, and helping us with our own middleware and my Bangkok engineers, while big names told everyone middleware costs zillions. All this under thatched roofs along side the bright and dazzling high tech Hua Wei, CISCO, etc.

My mate Big Dan, who's 6' 10 and weighs 150kg and I were the only white guys amongst 20 villagers wondering around our patch of village inside this high-tech wonderland. The idea was how the silk weavers like Mar Noo would show themselves weaving silk, then we'd sell the silk online by e-commerce! Pretty cool!

The Prime Minister was coming along to visit as well. Funny thing was we ended up with other village people stopping by and staying! Cleaners who could weave stunning silk but had to leave their villages to work in Bangkok as they couldn't sell silk on line, visited our stand and stayed. It was like Gilligan's island in the middle of Los Vegas! Dan and I had a great time.

Big Dan quickly spotted Mar Noo - “Do you see that old silk weaver, Man - she's everywhere! Every time I go for a walk to another booth, she's there, trying to get prizes, free stuff, talking to people, asking questions, telling them right or their wrong, the TV channels all keep interviewing her.”

And it was true, TV crews, Press, they all kept following her, her infectious laughter was none stop, every time she time she got to a new high tech stand, she'd stop and ask, in Thai or Laos, “So, Google what do you do, can you do something for a old farmer like me?” She alone got more press hours than I did! And the questions and discussions, started in laughter ended in serious discussions,she was no fool either.

She wandered daily around these huge halls, her first time in Bangkok, her first time at a ICT show, from booth to booth, working out what was on offer, who had the free give-aways. What time to show up, and when the TV crews came by, seeing a genuine little lady from Issan, having a LOT of fun, they loved it.

And most importantly, it was the YOUTH channels that loved her the most, her enthusiasm, for the technology she didn't understand, but knew was needed at her home for her villages future. She'd TELL them what they needed in the village!

I'd call my wife in the village “Was I on TV?” No but Mar NOO was GREAT – someone heard her on radio too! - BAH That was what this pocket dynamo of a woman was like!

Every time I ride around on the motorbike with Jing-Joe she would stop by Mar Noo's house at the end of the cruise, and say, “Daddy, I stay with Mar Noo, you come back for me later”.

Safe is a house, no, safe is a home, that you're welcome at any time, no matter what you did. Mar Noo was a constant in Jing-Joe's tiny little life, a woman of small stature, whose heart weighed more than my beer gut!

Most days, in the dry season, when you can't farm, which is half the year, Mar Noo had a trade, selling Thai Spaghetti, as it's called, house to house.

A stop at our place would almost buy all her stock. We'd sit around, and eat the great food she's made, eat the sweets, watch her clean the plates so as to feed more, and sell seconds.

And always, Jing-Joe, sitting beside her, HER Mar Noo, Jing Joe's “Other”mother, a woman she loved with unquestioning devotion, for the love Mar Noo showed her.

You may have already seen photo's of this tiny dynamo, at Song Krang we ate lunch every day from the daily food as Mar Noo sold us.

And every day Jing-Joe would sit beside her, Mar Noo was Jing-Joe's “Mar”, her mother, no one else's second mother!

“She love me, no matter if I am naughty, she love me” was the only way I ever heard Jing-Joe describe Mar Noo.

What more could a human want from another human?

To be loved unconditionally.

That is the truest form of love, Unconditional love, no rules, no obligations,just love, and yes I know I can't spell, but worthy of capitalization and exclamation!

How much I respect this woman, who stands 4ft 9inches feet tall and 50 meters high, I can never say. Her fearless approach to life, as Big Dan and I saw in Bangkok, standing and interviewed by TV's, then walking off to find the lates tfree gadget, something she'd never use, but grab the chance to excel. Who has this fearless approach to life? For a mate like Big Dan to be impressed, I don't think there's many that impress Bid Dan in life, she has to be someone special.

You see, Mar Noo had a pretty tough life, her husband died young, she's lost her home in the village and lived in a poor shack by even our standards out on the small farm, there she raised her daughter alone, Mar Noo also raised a niece alone, but when your heart is bigger than the body it's carried it, anything is possible.

Mar Noo

And so when we received a phone call, and I'll be honest, I should have written this on Monday, on Tuesday, on Wednesday, when she lay in hospital. But I couldn't. I struggle now. I'm not brave like little Mar Noo. I'm big, I'm strong, but her heart is far bigger than mine.

You see in the wet season, the farmers walk bare foot in the fields, and she is a toiler of soil, a farmer, a trade I'm be proud to have on my resume as well, except as a boy I sat high in tractors that in one pass would till, what their feet toiled in a day.

And in this wet season, they can get a disease, something a well shod man like me would never know.

A disease that comes from rats in the fields, enters the blood, Leptospirosis and comes from rat piss, enters through cuts on feet, but the victims lie in bed, fades, and rarely die. Mar Noo was in her hut on the farm for a while in the rain before people noticed she was ill, not uncommon, no where to go in the rain. For a woman not much bigger than a field mouse, not much to fade away. She quickly hit complications, with no money to pay for the problems, she became ill fast,

Mar Noo lay in the hospital Jing-Joe was born, and withered, a tiny body, 38kgs at her fattest and now a lot less, withering, fading and finally on Thursday, they prepared her for her funeral in the hospital, saying she was dead.

They covered her with a white funeral sheet, her daughter howled tears we could hear in the village I swear. And still we had not the heart to tell Jing-Joe.

Each day we'd hope for a miracle, knowing it would not come, we're not brave enough to tell Jing-Joe, we sat and awaited the final phone call.

And this is true, it seems bizarre, but needs to be seen in the context of the primitive care sometimes given in these rural hospitals. My daughter was born with chickens scratching the ground outside, this is still a tough area at times, but getting better.

So Mar Noo lay there, our daughter's second mother, her little mother mouse, my daughter's true love, Mar Noo lay there, covered head to toe, in a sheet for the dead, for an hour while the family grieved. They, the nurses, came back and prepared to inject her with formalin, to preserve her, as she was dead, and the daughter beside her howled tears to heaven and hell. Mar Noo just lived life as it was given too you, with a ready smile no matter how hard, and now it was being taken away.

The nurses prepared to inject her to preserve her as there was other family to come a long way before the cremation, and the body would be sitting in the hot wet weather for many days, so we have preserve the dead for a while. But before the nurse could inject her, I have no idea what happened next, just what I am told, maybe Mar Noo was dead, maybe the family made so much noise they woke the dead, but Mar Noo's daughter saw her mum's fingers twitch, that short hardy tough mouse, maybe she heard all the commotion, and thought it wasn't time after all.

What ever happened, Mar Noo fingers moved and her daughter saw it happen. I so hope Mar Noo gave the nurse and doctors the the finger!

She wasn't dead yet! As good as, but not quite.

She wasn't going, not now, she'd wait, she twitched her fingers, her daughter saw, stopped the injections before they gave them, pulled back the sheet.

They breed them tough in Sakon Nakorn.

They will die with dignity when their time comes, we come home to die. I've sat with fathers who die before me, from Pancreatic Cancer, that cuts me to watch for my own reasons.

They die surrounded by their family and friends, and the odd fat farang often gets invited along too. I've been called in, and carried out grand mothers,who've smiled and looked at me, as they've died, and the family asked me, mostly as I'm big fat and strong, to help carry the dear old matriarch's somewhere, the last of my mother's friends often get carried by me out of their homes. But this time, pardon the language, but I know just how tough this lady is.

“Pis off death” said Mar Noo, "my time is not now", she showed Death, the doctor or nurse who thought she'd died the finger, and twitched her hand for her daughter to see.

If swearing offends you, don't stand close to death, because death deserves be sworn at when it's arrived uninvited, In that tiny heart of a tiny woman, who by then was just 30kg, lay ton's of love yet to be given.

She was going


The first day after she lay paralyzed, on one side, unable to talk, I assumed a stroke, I feared a crippled body with her great heart that wanted to walk. But not our Mar Noo, second day, she's got her voice, she's got her arms and legs,and that heart, love it, it ain't gone just yet.

A year later, she's bouncing around as if nothing has happened, my daughter's great love, her second mother.

When we die her in our village, we'll die we hope with dignity, in our homes, surrounded by family and friends, and go in peace. But if it's not our time, we'll fight, like Mar Noo, her job wasn't done yet.

Her love wasn't finished, there still a lot to give out. That's Mar Noo I bought noodles from her last week - 2 years now since she "died"

As I said, she's tough, and most days, my daughter spends with her an hour or so every now then sleeping out on her rough little farm hut.
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