Does anyone know who this woman is? Up until the last Friday in February, I thought she was my sister, Carol. However, the events of Friday week (a Southern expression in the USA which means ‘Friday one week ago’) leave me wondering whether she is indeed my sister or just some strange woman who likes to hang out with the Bryants.
You see, we went to the Thai Immigration Office in Chiang Mai on Friday, 24 February, so that this woman could apply for a 7-day extension of her Tourist Visa, as her flight back to Seattle was on 2 March 2012. The reason she gave for wanting to extend her visa was to continue to care for her mother who is ill. (My mother is ill and this woman has been living with us for the past month, caring for my mother and claiming that she was her mother, too.) The Immigration officer examined the forms she provided and said that the only thing missing was something that would prove that she was the daughter of this woman (my mother). So, off we went to the Provincial Office to get a copy of her birth certificate – which should have been a slam-dunk (an expression from the USA meaning ‘really easy’) since she said she was born in Chiang Mai. Ha! No such luck!
Nothing at the Provincial Office. They recommended going to the District Office since McCormick Hospital was not within the city limits at the time she was born (‘ancient history’). So, we drove across the river to the District Office to have them search their records for this ancient document. They searched, but they had nothing prior to the Buddhist year 2500 (1957). (My sister was born in 1955.) They suggested that the older records were probably in the old City Office, since they did not move all the records to this building when the building was opened. (There was also a background conversation going on about how there have been many floods in the city and hundreds of birth records were destroyed by flood waters in years gone by, but we decided to ignore this conversation and continue the search.) So, back across the river to the old City Office.
The officer at the old City Office just looked at us and said, “They didn’t call me, did they? If they had called me, I could have told them that we do not have those records and I could have saved you the trip.” A little later, she added, “That was back in the day (another Southern expression from the USA that has been translated into Thai and is used here. It means ‘in olden days, before recorded history’). The birth certificates back then were long narrow forms. We don’t have any books to keep those old forms in any more.” Just listening to her made us feel so young and spritely!
We had one more chance, but it involved going to McCormick Hospital and tracking down the doctor’s report and any certificate of birth issued by the hospital (way back when). We both knew that the hospital sits on flood-prone property (It flooded just last year!), so we decided to return to the Immigration Office and throw ourselves on the mercy of the Thai government. Just to play it safe, this woman had Mom’s doctor write on her application for a visa extension that she was extending her visa to care for this woman (my Mom) – and the DOCTOR wrote on the form that she was the woman’s daughter! Hey, they bought it!! I have a sister just ’cause some doctor she met a week ago is willing to vouch for her! Amazing!! Now, she’s back in Seattle with her own family, but she claims she’s coming back. I wonder who will vouch for her next time? Well, maybe me. After all, she did a good job caring for Mom while she was here, so I guess I shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth (another expression from the USA that fits – though my ‘sister’ might not like being called a ‘horse’!).