Darrell Wicks’ second flight to Bangkok won’t be as nerve-wracking as the first one two years ago.
On that trip, he married a longtime pen pal he had never seen in person before the two-week trip that included their wedding on Nov. 12, 2012.
The Sharon man had gotten to know Pathama Hansujin – and she got to know him – through letters they wrote each other for several years. Later, they talked online as frequently as they could after both began to see themselves as much more than friends.
Wicks, a Pittsburgh native, had already told her about himself including the drug dealing conviction and a parole violation that had put him in prison for four years.
Through their letters, each knew the other had never married nor had children. They exchanged photographs of themselves, their families and other friends.
Wicks said he sent his poems and the two pen pals -- he’s 55 and she’s 52 – wrote to each other about their interest in reading the Bible.
“The more I got to know her, I began thinking, ‘Wow, here is somebody I feel comfortable with. I don’t have to pretend,’ ” Wicks said. “By then I knew she felt the same way.”
As lovely as letters can be, there’s nothing like seeing someone you care about and hearing their voice. For Wicks and Pathama, whose name means “a flower that grows near water,” that happened online for the first time five years ago.
“We mostly just looked at each other and smiled,” Wicks said. “I found it hard to believe I was seeing and talking to someone on the other side of the planet. It was all imagination until I could see her actually talking to me and smiling. She’s got a beautiful smile.”
Wicks said he began to see a new direction in his life while living in a halfway house in Sharon for inmates who are preparing for their release from prison. He settled here when he got a job.
Wicks has since bought himself a house on the West Hill. It’s the one at 443 Logan Ave. where two flags fly – one American and one Thai in honor of his wife.
Mrs. Wicks had lived for 10 years as a girl in Texas with her aunt and her Caucasian uncle who was in the Air Force. She’s fluent in English but she returned to Thailand at age 21 and works as an office administrator for a British national who is a money manager for international clients.
Wicks, who works at Hermitage Bakery, said he’s grateful to Paul and Kathy Sotile for believing him six years ago when he said he had turned his life around.
A few years later, they supported him again when he told them he needed time off to get married.
“My boss gave me two weeks off and said you go do what’s in your heart,” Wicks said. “She said, ‘Your job will be here when you get back.’ She’s been behind me all the way.”
Wicks will be leaving next week for another visit. He’s been picking gifts for his wife, his mother-in-law and some Thai friends he has gotten to know.
The couple last year started the immigration paperwork so Mrs. Wicks can get a visa that will enable her to return to the United States with her husband.
There’s no telling how long that process will take but Wicks said married life will be worth the wait.
“I never had anything in my life that motivated me in this way,” he said. “It’s like having something to fight for and it’s worth it.”