Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Death of Chan Hong Jim

The rigid life of a steadfast man is often more perplexing to the common sod than death itself. Any room for change that does not meet his criteria of right or wrong is seen as a threat to proper order and is summarily rejected regardless of the mental or physical cost. Add some religious conviction to that wizened logic and the inclination towards either wild success or a stifled existence is greatly enhanced. Chan Hong Jim was no such creature.

At 52-years-old the Chinese immigrant and laundry worker (some articles listed him separately as a merchant, a restaurant proprietor and a laundry operator as well) preferred to sacrifice his Earthly journey for the ever after. Having contracted gangrene and after consultations with the elders of the Detroit chapter of the On Leong Tong, he stolidly refused treatment despite the protests of his treating physicians at William J. Seymour Hospital so that he could meet his ancestors in Heaven as an able-bodied commodity (There was even talk of a possible meeting between the patient and his brother in Chicago to change his mind but the meeting apparently never took place.).

The Pittsburgh Press,  January 8, 1936
So it was only fitting that he died on Chinese New Years as was so beautifully written in the article below. The stoic ending coinciding with two exalted beginnings.

Palm Beach Daily News, January 25, 1936
Or so the newspapers would have us believe. What they missed in his rightful glorification was the arteriosclerosis and tertiary syphilis that also riddled his body but was unceremoniously pegged to the death certificate. I suppose that they already had their story and there was no need to check such things. Just the same, it is a story befitting the grand and tragic legacy of Eloise.


Sadly, I don't think he made it back to his beloved homeland in China as the document seems to indicate.

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