Tuesday, October 4, 2016

wang halmoni

I met Halmoni for the first time when Rachel was a tiny baby.  She brought her a little pink dress for her 100 Day celebration, along with all of the requisite good jewelry and a baby hanbok.  And I have loved her ever since.  She is one of my all time favorite Korean people.  As much as I love her to bits and pieces, I have always worried that the connection that I felt with her was one big miscommunication.  She doesn't speak any English and I don't speak Korean. Maybe, as sweet as I thought she was, she was actually yelling at me in Korean this whole time?  My Korean skills are now better than they've ever been (still pretty mediocre, but we are measuring improvement, not fluency, right) and as I was heading to Korea, I just hoped that my improved Korean would keep Halmoni as the nicest Korean that I know.

It has been a little over a month now.  Our family brought 7 new bodies into her little apartment, along with a whole heck of a lot of luggage.  She comes and goes in between her apartment and Chris' uncle's apartment.  She deals with us and all of our crazy a lot.  She is patient. She is tender and loves hugs.  She thinks Autumn is hilarious despite the fact that some might consider her sense of humor crazy and disrespectful.  She misses Rachel. She values family.  She taught me how to run her apartment.  She taught us how to pee in the pot. (Don't ask. We still don't understand that conversation.) She worries about us. She reads my mind and buys the same things I do at the grocery store. She reads her scriptures daily.  She is so patient with us and our sketchy Korean.  Did I say she's patient yet? In the time we've been here, she has gripped us out many many times but now, I understand what she's saying. Eat more rice!  I bought you apples.  Eat them! Did you eat breakfast?  You need to eat more!  

Today I got to hang out with her while the girls were in school. We talked about our very wet picnic yesterday and had a good laugh. Like any proper Korean, she followed up asking if we were all sick now.  We talked about the weather around here (I can do weather!) and talked about Oregon. As always, she asked me if I miss Autumn and Rachel.  She wants Autumn to come back here when she doesn't have school and misses her "man-ee" (많이).  She went for a walk and brought back a bag of kimbap for us to share.  My family all knows that I have tried for at least 8 years to like Kim.  (Seaweed)  Every now and again, I make an announcement that I'm going to make myself like it. My kids have even tried to present it to me in ways they think will be yummiest.  My resolve lasts until my gag reflex kicks in.  It's really a sad thing but I did try again right before our trip (I had a theory that I could reset my tastebuds) and failed. Again. So here Halmoni (97!) goes and picks up kimbap and tells me to eat up.  😬  I did what I had to do and ate up. Guess what?!? Not only did I eat it, but I enjoyed eating it.  I took a two bite strategy that allowed the kim to not get stuck in my throat so much and it allowed the fillings to overpower the kim.  I was ridiculously proud of myself but also grateful that I didn't throw up on Halmoni.  I know this is silly, but Heavenly Father has helped me in so many ways on this trip.  Most of them are with trivial matters that probably don't matter so much in the end, but they sure have made this trip easier.  This little miracle allowed me to enjoy a lovely day with Halmoni and made our lunch a little nicer. We even got to FaceTime Autumn together!  I am so grateful for such a tender and kind example in my life and am especially grateful that I've had this time to grow closer to her. When planning this trip, I KNEW we were supposed to go to Korea now. In my "I know what Heavenly Father has planned for me" wisdom, I assumed it was to see Halmoni before she dies.  She is 97 and I assumed she was on her way out of this life.  I don't know how much longer she has here but after our visit, I will now be shocked if I hear she is even sick. She is one tough cookie! I don't think she got the news that 97 is supposed to be old. 

1 comment:

Linda Tunnell said...

what a sweet story of such a great woman. She reads the bible? So sweet!