Thursday, May 04, 2006

Happy Birthday, Mom!

May 4th is my mother's birthday. I decided to grace the Hairy Chasms with one of my favorite pictures of Mom. The above image (which I've posted before, actually) comes from a few years ago, when we were moving my brother Sean up to Boston. Sean was going to pursue his M.A. in cello performance at the New England Conservatory. If I'm not mistaken, the pic was taken after we had arrived in Boston. We'd driven our minivan up, along with a large U-Haul rental truck stuffed with Sean's many, many belongings. At some point, Mom was packed in the back-- just one parcel among all the others, quietly riding up to Boston.

As you see, Mom's in mid-speech, looking very much in command of the situation. It's somehow a classically Korean tableau: in the midst of apparent chaos, there sits this force of nature, at the center of it all, imposing her own strange and wonderful order on the unfolding universe.

And doing it all while facing rearward.

Mom endured chaos without me almost a month ago, when Dad had his heart attack. It was a terrible weekend to have a heart attack: Mom's Korean-American women's society was hosting its huge concert on Sunday. Dad's chest pains occurred the Friday before that. As I've mentioned before, Mom's the president of her society this term; she finishes in June, I think. It was up to her to coordinate all the preparations for that event, which ended up having nearly a thousand attendees. Somehow, she managed to find time for Dad even in the midst of everything else that was going on. She had help, to be sure: my brother David (you can see him in the minivan's driver's seat) was an enormous help, as were many of Mom's Korean and American friends.

Mom's been in America since the 1960s, and she's Americanized to a great extent. But at heart, she's still as Korean as ever, and I mean "Korean" in the old-school, Korean War era sense: tough as nails, able to endure. No-- more than that: able to forge ahead despite what life throws at her.

I think Mom's mellowed with age somewhat (to the extent that any Korean can be described as "mellow"), but she's still got that edge. I imagine that, when June rolls around and her term as president finishes up, there will be calls within her organization for a reelection. I hope she says no. Her day job keeps her stressed enough.

Mom, I hope you have a wonderful birthday. It's a shame I can't be there to give you a hug, so I hope you'll accept this cyber-hug (and the upcoming phone call, of course!).

I love you.



Anonymous said...

I like the way she's pointing at the lampshade with her thumb as if the say in a very loving and motherly way, "It's gonna fly out and decapitate you if you have to stop in a hurry...Put it on your head for all I care. Just do something about it".

Anonymous said...

I meant, as if she's about to say.