MY WIFE PENNY
I married Supenny Uraiklang on December 17, 2006 at her restaurant, China Inn, in Louisville, Kentucky. My father, Reverend Theodore Hard officiated.
Over the years, I have continued to find out more and more about 'Penny' and her fascinating history. I get great enjoyment out of listening to her stories and watching how animated she gets while telling them.
The purpose of this section of the website is to tell her stories and leave a legacy for her kids and grand kids.
Some stories will be retold by me from my memory and perspective.
I will attempt to present other stories from her perspective. In these cases, I will edit the stories.
The video links will have clips of Penny actually telling some of her stories.
Penny was the owner of China Inn Restaurant in Louisville, Kentucky since 1987. Penny passed away on February 17th of 2020 after a five year battle against cancer. Sadly, shortly thereafter in March of 2020, China Inn was closed permanently due to the loss of revenue from the Corona Virus pandemic outbreak restrictions.
DESIGNER BY NECESSITY
Out of necessity, on a tight budget with her Army husband’s mediocre salary, Penny taught herself to sew and make her own clothes at an early age. Jay and Jeannie, her two children, wore clothes designed and made by Penny.
When Penny moved to the United States as a young mother of two, she moved from base to base with her husband Jim. She started designing and making wedding dresses, prom dresses, and other clothes for friends and acquaintances to make extra money.
While living in Louisville, Kentucky, her work was noticed by several designers and she was asked to show her designs at fashion shows at the Seelbach Hotel and Hyatt Regency.
At the Seelbach fashion show, though young and shy, Penny was given the microphone to describe her creations as the models displayed them on the runway. Though her English was not that good, her cute accent and beautiful dress she designed and was wearing stole the show.
When the show director took the microphone and started to describe Penny’s dress, she reached down and lifted the flap on her overlapping wrap exposing Penny’s legs. Shy Penny instinctively smacked the announcer in embarrassment knocking the microphone out of her hand. Then she turned beet red in the face as the audience clapped in approval and amusement.
At an older age, with eyes not so sharp and too many other responsibilities at her restaurant, she retired her Singer sewing machine and gave up her favorite pastime.
Once in awhile though, I would see her eyes light up when we passed a fabric store. If she decided to go in to look, I just figured it was going to be a long afternoon.
Penny tells her story on YOUTUBE about being a clothing designer.
You have seen the old cigarette ad that shows a sophisticated looking woman with a cigarette in her hand. It read, “You’ve come a long way, baby!” Well, my wife Penny didn't smoke, but she had come a long way from the jungles of Thailand. She transformed herself from a jungle girl in a third world country on one side of the world to a successful restaurateur of thirty three years in the United States of America.
Penny really was a jungle girl. She lived in a small village at the edge of the jungle near Korat. As a little girl, she would marvel at an airplane flying overhead. She could not wrap her head around the idea of a giant metal machine being able to defy gravity and fly through the air like a bird. The world outside of her village was a mystery to her.
Her brother went for a walk behind their house one day and brought back four tiger cubs. Now that is about as jungle as you can get.
She recalled how her father fooled her into getting her face very close to one of the cubs and then getting her nose scratched. Her father got a good laugh out of the prank. He had convinced Penny that if she looked closely enough, she would see that tigers do not have nostril holes.
Everyone slept in one room on the wood floor in their bungalow. There was no electricity so it got very dark at night. Penny went to bed every night with a bowl of water positioned in the same place about a foot from her head. In the middle of the night, ants would crawl in her ear and she used the water to flush out the ants.
Though their house was on stilts and ten feet off of the ground, one year a very bad flood brought the water high enough to almost reach their living space. Penny and her siblings passed the time swimming in the flood water right off of the top stair well.
Penny woke up one morning with a cobra coiled in the corner near her. The snake had come into the house to flee the raging water.
Penny tells her story of getting scratched on the nose by a tiger.
Penny tells her stories of growing up in Thailand and the ordeals of getting to school and back every day.
PENNY FINDS HER LONG LOST FRIEND
Penny's best friend while growing up in Thailand was Sue. Sue married Vernon and came to the United States. Then, Penny and Sue lost contact with each other.
When Penny married Jim and came to the United States, she spent years trying to find her friend.
This video is of Penny telling the amazing story of how she finally found her friend.
To My Cousins Andy and Wanda Brown,
We mourn the passing of your mother, my Aunt Charlotte. I have many fond memories of Uncle Evan and Aunt Charlotte from our visits to your house in New Jersey in 1959-1960 and in 1964-1965 during our furloughs from the mission field in Korea.
Thank you so much for your card and for handling all of this so graciously. I want to tell you what a blessing this gift from God has been to us and many other people. Your mother’s gift to us has been a gift from God to many people. Let me explain.
Last year, my wife Penny found out she had a deadly breast cancer. Our immediate concern, of course, was for her health and well being. But a secondary concern was the $6300.00 deductible on her health insurance.
Penny wanted to lose herself at the casino that night so that she did not have to face her fear and shock. It was her way of escaping. She got really lucky that night. When we got home and counted up her winnings, it was exactly $6300.00. We praised God and told the story many times for God’s glory.
Well, on March 5th of this year, I got another bill for this year’s deductible of $6300.00 since Penny had already racked up quite a bill from her chemo treatments this year. On March 6th, I received a fat letter from some lawyers in Maryland and my heart sank. I don’t like getting letters from lawyers. Well, PRAISE GOD! The day after I get a bill for $6300.00, I get a letter saying that I had inherited $6300.00 from Aunt Charlotte. God’s hand was all over that.
Your Mom’s generous gift has not only helped me directly, it has been a “GOD THING” inspiration to many. Some have even repeated the story in their churches. What a blessing this has been to so many people. What a great witness for the greatness of God. What an amazing set of “coincidences” to strengthen my faith and the faith of others.
Thank you, Aunt Charlotte. I will see you soon. I trust you and Mom are having a lot of good laughs together and waiting patiently for the rest of us to join you both for eternity. Praise God!
ADDENDUM ON 01-30-2017 - GOD PROVIDES AGAIN
Penny's cancer returned, so the doctor put her on a new course of treatment which consisted of two drugs taken orally at home. After two months it looked like Penny's cancer was getting better and the palpable tumor had shrunk and could almost not be felt anymore. Praise God!
Early this January I called the special compounding pharmacy to order Penny's next round of chemo drugs. The pharmacy told me they could not ship it because Penny did not have insurance. I was shocked and confused. Penny had had that insurance policy for several years and it rolled over automatically at the end of each year. The premiums were payed by automatic withdrawal from her bank account so we had never missed a payment. What was going on?
I called Anthem to ask about it and was informed that this "product" was no longer available in this area. Anthem had discontinued all the PPO policies that were sold under the Obamacare umbrella via the internet website. They said that they had sent us a letter to that effect but Penny had been receiving two to three letters every day for months from insurance companies and brokers who wanted to sell her insurance and get her signed up in Medicare when she turned 65. After reading a few dozen of those letters, we had stopped opening the letters and just began throwing them away.
We were shattered! Penny cried and cried and and was inconsolable for days. The drugs are billed to the insurance company to the tune of about $24,000.00 per month. I took several days off and frantically scrambled around trying every possible way of getting those drugs and obtaining another insurance policy. We prayed and prayed and trusted that God would answer our prays. He always took care of us.
With the help of a Norton's Cancer Center financial counselor we were able to get the Novartis Patient Assistance Foundation to pay for the most expensive of the two drugs and get it to us as soon as possible. Penny missed about eight days of the chemo drug but she is back on track now. As a patient without insurance, Penny was eligible to get the other drug for a mere $620.00 as we could not find any foundation to help with it. When I called the Norton's Specialty Pharmacy and asked him to take payment over the phone and send those drugs, he was very cooperative. In fact, he put me on hold for five minutes, only to come back with the question, " Would it be alright with you if I could get that drug to you for only $50.00?"
Between discounted payments for office visits and procedures in January and the mere $50.00 in drug costs, it ended up costing less than what our January insurance premium would have been. The Lord provided AGAIN! Thanks be to God. We have since obtained another policy to sustain us from February through March. After that, Penny will be on Medicare and the treatments will be covered for the most part.
In spite of all adversities, we have joy and faith in Jesus Christ. Penny has been a real trooper through all of this and truly believes that God will always provide for our needs.