Thursday, October 11, 2018

#3 Ajumma's paintings

My #3 Ajumma, whose husband has terminal liver cancer, texted with me this evening when I sent her some scanned photos of her and her husband that date back to 1993. She replied that she didn't have any real memory of the events depicted in those images, but she thanked me all the same. She then replied with the photos you see below. I had no idea that Ajumma had taken up Western-style painting (she's an accomplished Korean-style landscape painter); she says she's still learning, but it's obvious she has an eye for color, composition, light, and shadow. And she's always loved flowers: she's the designated flower-decorator at her church.

Ajumma made a typo while texting and said it was because she was crying. As much as I'm looking forward to going to France, I feel like a shit for leaving her here. I remember what it was like to be alone with Mom when Mom was dying of brain cancer; I'd sometimes leave her sitting in the living room so I could go quietly downstairs, slump on a couch, and cry my eyes out. Taking care of someone you know is dying is a huge psychological burden, and I don't mean "burden" in a resentful way. It's just that such caregiving inevitably takes a toll, and there are days and weeks when you find yourself on an emotional razor's edge, just a blink away from cutting loose and sobbing in front of everyone. I never actually did that, but on several occasions, it was a close call. The quiet moments, though, were the worst, mainly because of the crushing sense of inevitability; I could almost feel the cancer cells multiplying in my mother's head. With Ajeossi now sick as he is, a lot of those memories from eight years ago are coming back to the surface. It's a somber note on which to begin a happy trip to see my French brother and his family, but life deals out whatever cards it's holding, and it doesn't care what your current situation is. And life is structured such that, whatever hand you've been dealt, you've got no choice but to play it.


John Mac said...

Very talented indeed. Hopefully her time painting helps ease her mind some.

You are right about life and dealing with the cards you're dealt of course. Perhaps the best you can hope for is some perspective and it seems you have at least achieved that.

I'll be looking forward to following your upcoming travel from here.

The Maximum Leader said...

These are quite striking. She has talent and an eye. I'll agree with John. I hope it can ease her mind and spirits in this difficult time. You need all the help you can get...