All posts by Clayton Imoo

Husband to Gail, Father to Sean, Jacob and Kayla. I am passionate about my family and my faith, and I love to speak, write, play music, play sports, and nap.

2010 Winter Olympics Video Blog #1 (Jan 29): The Introduction

Here’s the first in my video blog series chronicling the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver.

I’ll be posting regular video blogs featuring the buzz surrounding our Archdiocese of Vancouver headquarters at Robson and Cambie in downtown Vancouver.

I hope to post something new every day or two both leading up to the Olympics, and of course during the Olympics.

Hope you enjoy!

Quality Time

After a long and very busy day first at the YMO and then St. Francis Xavier Parish setting up for tomorrow’s Congress, I called home as I made my way into Richmond just before 10pm.

“I’m craving Japanese food” I blurted out, to whomever picked up the phone on the other side.

“Daddy…can I come with you?” came the answer.

By process of elimination, I knew it was Sean: Gail doesn’t call me “Daddy”, Kayla can’t speak that well yet (although she will soon), and Jake was asleep already (after all…it was after 8pm).

“Sure,” I replied, “be ready in 20 minutes.”

I got home in 20 minutes flat, put on my Canucks’ sweatshirt, said a quick hello and good night to Gail and Kayla (Jake was indeed sleeping already), and loaded Sean into the van as we made our way to Aji Taro for some late night Japanese food.

We enjoyed a really nice meal as we each shared about our respective days at school/work and what we were looking forward to on the weekend. As we ate and chatted, I noticed out of the corner of my eye the people at a nearby table staring at us. At first, I thought they were looking “past us” to the bar/cashier but I knew they were staring when Sean said he noticed it too.

Finally, I gave a friendly-enough glance back, catching the dad by surprise (it was a dad and his son and one of the dad’s friends).

“Are you Japanese?” was the first question he asked me in response to my return glance.

“Uh…yeah…half” I answered.

“What about him?” he asked while pointing at Sean.

Hmmm….I could be really sarcastic here…but that probably wouldn’t be fair given that the stranger had no way of knowing whether or not Sean was my son.

“My son is only a quarter Japanese, as my wife is Chinese.”

“Oh…he looks Japanese because of his eyes. He is really cute. My son wanted to meet him but is too shy.”

And thus started a nice 3 minute conversation between the 3 of them and the 2 of us. Turns out that the other kid was also 8 years-old and in grade 3, but at an elementary school in Surrey. I learned that the 3 of them were Vietnamese, from Surrey, and Japanese food-lovers. Turns out they weren’t bad people after all…haha.

Or maybe not. After they paid their bill and left, Sean said to me: “Those guys were scary.”

We soon finished our meal, our conversation slowing to a near stand-still as I asked for the bill. I figured that Sean was extremely tired, still feeling the effects of the 5am wake up call the day before for the field trip to Victoria.

We got into the car and I said to Sean: “You didn’t eat that much tonight. Were you already full? Or are you tired?”

Sean replied, “I wasn’t really that hungry.”

I asked back, “So why did you come with me.”

“Because I wanted to spend time with you.”

My heart overflowed with joy and I flashed a big smile. “Thanks Sean…that means a lot to me. Thank you.”

His next statement revealed his true motive:

“But most of all, I didn’t want to have to go to bed yet.”

Still overflowing with joy, I was now laughing out loud as we made our way home, thankful for some quality food and more importantly, some quality time.

Sean’s First Communion

Today Sean received Jesus Christ in the Eucharist for the first-time. Needless to say, it was a very momentous occasion for our family, one that we have been looking forward to for a long time.

It was extra-special because Gail has been teaching Sean in his grade 2 class at St. Paul School since January, when Gail went back to teaching after taking maternity leave for
Kayla. As well, Gail has been running parent meetings throughout the spring in order to help prepare the families for this special day.

The First Communion program at St. Paul is quite interesting actually, as Father Luterbach likes to hold “two First Communion celebrations” for the kids. At today’s Mass, the kids were to sit with their families so they could truly focus on the Sacrament. Then, at next week’s Mass, the kids will dress up in their white robes and sit together as a class to the delight of invited family and friends.

Thus, today’s Mass was indeed less distracting for Sean, despite Kayla’s best efforts to entertain him and everyone in our surrounding pews. I was very excited for Sean and I was gushing with anticipation as Mass ensued. To his credit, Sean played it calm and cool and seemed really focused on the Sacrament.

As we made our way down the aisle towards the altar, I followed Sean while carrying a sleeping Jake on my shoulder and chest. Sean and I both received from Father Luterbach and then made our way back to the pew. As I knelt next to Sean, I held his hand and prayed with him, all while holding the 40-pound sack of son on my other side. I was overcome with emotion and pride, and my eyes started to water with tears of joy.

“How do you feel Sean?” I asked.

“Really good,” Sean replied as he rubbed his tummy, “I feel like I’m full. And I was hungry before Mass.”

Sean’s answer caught me off-guard, and the skeptic in me wondered if he was just saying something to make his youth minister-Daddy happy. So I asked him what he meant.

“I feel fulfilled. Like I don’t need anything else right now.”

Sean’s answer went beyond satisfying-to-me. I kissed him on the forehead and told him how proud I was of him. We continued to pray together, and I thanked God for Sean’s child-like faith that humbles me, affirms me, and inspires me.

My 7 Year-Old Conscience

Many of my friends know that I have a long-standing subscription to Sports Illustrated magazine. For many years, I’ve looked for to the NHL and NBA preview issues in particular, while I could use a little less NASCAR coverage and stories about baseball.

Even more people know that Sports Illustrated publishes an annual Swimsuit Issue. The issue serves as a lightning rod for controversy…so much so that subscribers now have the option to opt out of receiving the magazine.

I admittedly haven’t gotten around to opting out of the magazine (it’s funny how I seem to forget to make that phone call every year) and sure enough, this year’s edition arrived last week while I was away in Montreal.

To my lovely wife Gail’s credit, she actually didn’t throw it away, rather placing it discreetly in a pile of bills and newspapers for my review. After all, she is a good steward of resources.

By coincidence or not, the boys happened to be with me as I rummaged through my pile of catch-up items, and thus were present when I pulled out the Sports Illustrated issue in question.

“Eww….gross!” was one of the boy’s reactions as he glared at the cover.

“Cool…she’s in her underwear!” was the other boy’s reaction as he stared at the cover.

I was caught off-guard by both reactions for different reasons. As 99% of you have likely already guessed, Sean’s comment was the former, and Jake’s was the latter.

My 7 year-old conscience continued: “You should just throw that whole magazine away so you’re not distracted.”

(As an aside, the title of this blog refers to the fact that Sean is 7 years old, and not that I’ve had a conscience for only 7 of my 34 years of existence. But I digress).

As Jake tried to wrestle the magazine away from me to leaf through its contents, Sean hit me with one more zinger that to this day I still don’t have a good answer for:

“What does it have to do with sports anyway?”

Being Humbled and Enduring Pain: Appropriate for Holy Week

We weren’t able to make it to a Good Friday Service this year (more on that below) so we prayed a rosary together as a family just after dinner but just before the Canucks game. It was a beautiful time, both spiritual and (respectfully) humourous in spots. Jake fell asleep by the 2nd decade, while Sean kept losing count, and he would try and signal me to find out where we were without having Gail notice. Priceless. Kayla meanwhile was babbling constantly throughout…you can guess who she takes after there. It reminded me just how powerful praying with the family can be, and it encouraged us and challenged us to make more time for deliberate prayer as a family.

The reason I wasn’t able to leave the house today was because I am nursing an inch-wide and half-inch deep cut on the back of my leg. I had an abscess removed on Tuesday (remnants of a staph infection I got in late February). My family doctor packed it after cutting it out on Tuesday…it was so painful that I bit a hole through the paper on his examination table! He removed the packing on Thursday and repacked it in a slightly-less painful procedure. We went for dinner an hour later to the Vetters, and I started bleeding out from the wound, soaking the dressings and my pants. Thankfully, Zinha is a Registered Nurse, so she was able to redress it for me (I had to ask permission from her husband Richard that she see me with my pants down…haha) and she recommended that I go to Emergency at Richmond General Hospital. They generously offered to watch Sean and Jake while Gail and Kayla took me to the hospital.

I am so grateful that the Lord had us at that place at that time. I almost didn’t go to the Vetters’ that night, opting instead to just rest at home. I probably wouldn’t have known what to do had I started bleeding profusely with no one to help me! So not only did I get a yummy meal…I got professional care and some peace-of-mind.

It was a madhouse in the waiting room but I was luckily treated within an hour. Needless to say, it was very humbling lying on the hospital bed with my pants off with both the female nurse and female doctor tending to me. Thankfully I was wearing decent underwear. As unpleasant as it was for me, it must have been worse for them as they had to clean, re-pack, and re-dress the wound. The most painful part was actually when they removed the tape (think Steve Carell in the 40 Year-Old Virgin).

While waiting to be worked on, I had a lot of time to think, text, reflect, and pray. I thought it was appropriate that this was happening to me during the Easter Triduum, as I thought of the humility shown by Christ washing His disciples’ feet at the Last Supper, and the pain and anguish He felt on Good Friday. This isn’t to say that my humbling experiences and pain were comparable at all to what Jesus went through…but they certainly were analogous to me.

Here’s one last funny story: in making small talk with the Filipina nursing student, I mentioned that my wife was born in the Philippines. She then asked me if I was Filipino, and I responded “no” but that I could say one Filipino phrase…but that it was very inappropriate for the situation (remember…I was lying there on my stomach in my underwear). She told me to save it for when we were done.

After I finished dressing myself, she asked what the phrase was. I said in perfectly fluent Tagalog: “Gusto mo akong umutot?” She burst out into laughter and indeed thanked me for saving it…as it means “Do you want me to fart?” Quite the ending to my hospital visit!

The injury has affected me more than I thought: I can’t really sit so I’m regulated to lying down or standing. Thus, I can’t drive and I was in an out of the office all week for short spurts. Being a person somewhat of routine and habit, I find that I haven’t been really effective at anything, either at home or at work. So I’m praying that I can recover quickly and get back to business as usual.

Thus, I’m looking forward to the joy and new life that comes from Christ’s glorious resurrection at Easter! And to keep with my analogy…it will likely mean taking the boys bowling or playing hockey outside.

Happy Easter!