Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Dad had a birthday in January; now it's Mom's turn.

that family again!

Mom was born on May 4th. She spent her childhood in South Korea, survived the Korean War (losing two brothers to American bombs, and somehow holding no grudge against us), and left Korea with her family in the 1960s. The family moved to Texas (Mom has a surviving big sister and little brother), and if you'll recall what I wrote on my parents' anniversary (April 6th), the rest is history. Somehow she managed to keep her sanity despite giving birth to three squirming boys.

I'm always exasperated when Korean folks marvel that I eat Korean food. I often find myself patiently explaining that I've eaten these foods all my life. It's a bit of a bring-down for the Koreans in question: they probably thought they were offering me something special. In a sense, that's true, but in another sense... no, this is old hat, grâce à Maman. (Naejang-t'ang, by the way, is forever new, and eternally unwelcome.) Just tonight, Min-sung's mother cooked bindae-ddeok, a staple at our house. Her first question: "Have you ever had this before?" I was forced to tell her yes, but I made sure to compliment her on them (they were quite good, but they weren't Mom's).

It's thanks to Mom that I learned the Korean alphabet way back as a child. I didn't really learn much conversational Korean from her; she was already pretty proficient in English and would expend her Korean on me mainly when she was yelling at me. Heh. I didn't start to truly appreciate Mom and her culture, however, until I moved to Seoul in the summer of 1994 and stayed for two years. A lot of stuff about Mom made sense after that, though Korea has changed so much and she can't relate to kids who see nothing wrong with North Korea. As a war survivor, she worries constantly about a renewed outbreak of violence-- on the peninsula or on American shores. Despite all the worries, though, she remains tough and resilient, qualities often associated with Koreans.

I want to end with another goofy poem like I did on April 6, but instead I'll post a picture of how Mom always thinks of her Big Baby (at least, this is what Dad insists):

SAY IT ALL TOGETHER NOW:  aaaaawwwwwwwwwwwwww

Happy Birthday, Mom! I love you!


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