The last in a brood of nine, she was actually the second Mahala in our family as Butch’s twin sister who was the first to be given our grandmother “Hawee’s” name died before she was a month old. With eleven years separating us she and I weren’t the pals that Mahala was with Rosemary and Jamie. They hung out together and unfortunately, I am not privy to the deeds and mis-deeds they doubtless should be credited, but I am sure there were many. She pitched right in and made her own legacy in the family. She attended the University of Louisville where she met Kong Aphaivongs, a young Thai who was attending the Southern Police Institute there. Their dating led to engagement and some apprehension by Mama and Daddy. She went with Kong to Thailand to be married in a wedding attended by Royalty and much more celebrity and fanfare than she would have ever had in the States.
This was during the Vietnam War era and there was some serious concern that if South Vietnam
and Cambodia fell to the communists, Thailand would be the next domino. So Mahala and Kong had contingency plans for that eventuality. Fortunately, the plans never had to be used.
No one ever loved her mother more than Mahala and my own heart broke as I watched her rush in after a long frantic flight from the other side of the world arriving only at the last moment before Mama’s casket was closed forever. She furnished a special room in her home in Bangkok for a permanent memorial to Mama who had fortunately, been able to visit her there.
Mahala and Kong made their lives in Bangkok, raising Kathy and Michael there until they were
college age. Their home was visited by Tom Cruise and Mimi Rogers while he was filming in
Thailand. They operated a couple restaurants and eventually Mahala took up teaching English while Kong pursued his career in civil service. In the course of this she traveled the world and wrote travelogues that regaled the family with her adventures. Most of the family have visited her tropical home, and enjoyed the very different culture of the Thai people.
In turn, Mahala has been able to visit with her family in the States about every year and it has kept up a great relationship. And I am sure it had something to do with Kathy and Michael going to school and relocating here. Of course, they have dual citizenship.
She’s the life of the party yet and fun to be around besides being a great sister, wife and mother.