Thomas E. Cheatham III is Henry and Sunny’s son-in-law, married to Carol. He is father to Natalie and Lanie.

I first met the Lim and Lee families when Carol and I (who were dating in graduate school) went out to Indiana for Mike and Melia’s wedding. Carol and I joined them in their hotel room to chat; some of the other relatives were there and Henry was in his tighty whities and a white basketball style undershirt. They made small talk about our research and my parents, and then offered me a Coor’s light and ogingo (dried squid/octopus), the latter of which I liked. “Oh, you’ve got a Korean mouth!” they exclaimed. This was the start of a nearly thirty year friendship where they treated me like family and a son. This was only solidified with the birth’s first of Natalie and later with Lanie. After Natalie’s birth, they came to visit us in Bethesda (we were postdocing at the NIH). Throughout these times we would see each other usually more than twice a year either at our house or in Irvine, often in microvisits of just a few days.

In Irvine, there were rituals (noting that every visit in the car was at least an hour drive due to traffic)—meals with extended family at seafood paradise with lobster and crab or dumpling’s and jajangmyeon at Peking Gourmet who have the same staff today as they did then. The staff watched my kids grow from babies to adults. No matter what, Henry ordered so much food, like 2-3 dishes per person and invariably it could not fit all on a single table. We also cannot forget sushi at Taiko—everything from toro to amaebi (live shrimp) sushi; the chef’s would fry up the heads and serve as a later dish. Of course, Natalie has never enjoyed sushi (except avocado rolls) so would grin and bear it. Sunny would get a special table (not at the sushi bar) and sit with her eating more traditional Japanese. Henry would always go to the restaurant at least an hour before opening and sit there to be first in line for the sushi bar. Another early food ritual was all you can eat sushi. We were not particularly fond of this (since too much means lesser quality). Carol’s mom would take the largest plate of food and I remember her eating the fish nigiri and hiding the rice in her purse. Another favorite was sun do boo, with dried yellow crackers on the side, which was a particular favorite of Carol and Sunny; we’d get due mandogook for the kids.

The Lim’s loved showing and displaying the kid’s art and we had desks full of art supplies of all types supplied by the Lim’s at our house. They also Lim’s loved displaying pictures of their kids and another Irvine ritual was dressing up the kids (and us) for professional photo’s which with little kids is a challenge. Fancy photoshopped pro photo’s would be made of the family at various stages of our lives. Once Natalie and Lanie were grandchildren, although pictures of the Lim kids remained, the Irvine house became a monument or museum of photo’s and art from our kids. Oh yes, I forgot about the bikes of all stages at the Irvine house, bought for the kids to ride around the neighborhood, and swimming at the local pools or water parks and fun parks (for the kids). Not to mention Disneyland adventures, and a memorable visit when the kids broke out in hives (we thought from food we ate) but then Carol correlated it with the generous sun-screen (and specific chemicals within) applied to prevent sun burn.

When visiting us they would say we can go to any restaurant you want, but the implied translation was as long as it was Korean, Chinese, Japanese or Italian. They loved taking the kids to the Olive Garden; a place where Carol and I always seemed to get food poisoning. Visits centered around food (and the kids who they would love to take to the malls, Target, and CostCo and “buy whatever you want”—which are impressive in Irvine and HMart, etc.). Henry would slip me $100 and say, go buy some beer. They would also take the kids to the park to play. They were always showering us with money, especially the kids. Henry and Sunny saved up money to buy each of them cars at high school graduate, saved money for their colleges, and always wanted to be present for birthdays, graduations, Christmas, etc. which, of course, meant more gifts. When Lanie was a teenager, she cleaned up her room and found more than $6000 in cash accrued over her childhood. When we were living in San Francisco, Henry and Sunny came to visit and my brother Steve and his wife happened to be in town too—I do not remember the occasion, but Henry really wanted to take Steve and Ruth out to dinner and we found a Chinese restaurant right by Golden Gate Park—Steve remembers the tons of food, the friendliness and happiness, and strong “family”.

As academics or teachers at heart, they were both super supportive of Carol and my development as independent faculty members and were always proud of our growth. Since Henry was a professor, he could over guidance and advice through our various stages. Also, they understood the challenges of a faculty career.

Another strong memory is the visit to Korea with the kids when they were small, meeting Korean relatives, seeing Seoul, and Jeju Island. They promised us an island tour in English, but instead it was this extremely loud woman yelling in Korean about the sites we were visiting so the kid’s tuned it out and into their iPads. At one stop we had lunch—it was absolutely the worst naengmyeon we have ever had. Carol’s dad fell at the airport in L.A. on the way to Korea because his suitcase with super-overweight with gifts of vienna sausages for the relatives. It wasn’t till we got home and Carol kind of had to force him to go to the doctor where it was realized he had cracked his head and had a brain bleed. There were many health crisis’s over the years and the family had to push them to get checked out. Hell, he lived with congestive heart failure and ~30% heart function for more than 3 years. We thought he would come through COVID and even were encouraged with his lucidity and improvements while in the hospital. COVID is an ugly beast—get vaccinated if you can and be careful!

Our family truly loved them, despite challenges at times… We will miss them from our lives and unfortunately remember too well the awful February of 2021.