Goodbye, Mr. Song

22 09 2014

We said “goodbye” to Mr. Song today. Korean Presbyterian Church in Fayetteville held a service for him. About 50 church members came, including Mr. Song’s three elder brothers. Between them, there was plenty of animosity and years without communication, but today #3 brother lamented he “could no longer even argue with his baby brother.”

Yunchol, Mr. Song’s oldest son, spoke, and then Mr. Song’s older brother, and the pastor advanced the agenda without a long enough pause to give others a chance to speak. No matter. It would have been misplaced to speak further after the eldest son and older uncle shared their feelings.

We rode to the restaurant together after the service–Eddie, me, and Yunsu, my brother from another mother. He and Ed are the same age, and because Yunsu is so…활발하다, he’s been easy to get to know. This emergency with his father gave me a chance to appreciate what a mature, young man Yunsu has become. He made the difficult decision to withdraw his father’s feeding tube and ran interference between the doctors, my mother, and his brother. On the car ride to Hibachi Grill, I told Yunsu what I would have liked to say about his dad at the service.

“미스터 송 빨리 돌아가셔서 아주 슬프네요. 그래도 자기 아프신 것 없어져서 좋아요.
미스터송은 우리 엄마한테 항상 착해서 정말 고마워요. 우리 한테도 친절하게 되셔서 고마워요.
어떤기억 나…옛날에 미스터송과 우리 엄마가 우리의 집에 오셔서 Thanksgiving식사하러 오셔서…우리 식사한다음에 미스터송한테 젓가락을 주고 미스터송은 식탁에서 드럼처럼 치셔서요. 제가 깜짝 놀랐어요. 그때부터 교회에서 미스터송의 드럼을 치기를 보고 그건 잘 하셨어요.

특별히 미스터송은 마음이 넓은 분인지 어떻게 알 수 있는 방법은 자기 아이들이에요. 아뜰 두명 아주 좋은 사람이라서요.”

“I’m sorry that Mr. Song left us so quickly. It’s so sad. But I am glad he is not in pain anymore.
He was always kind to our mother and to us too, he was very kind.
I remember one Thanksgiving when Mr. Song and Mom came to our house. After dinner, we gave Mr. Song some big, cooking chopsticks, and he started playing drums on the coffee table. D@mn! I had no idea he was THAT good. We saw him play in church with his brothers after that, Mr. Song on drums, his brothers on guitar, and I could see how they traveled to all of the military bases in Korea entertaining soldiers. They were good!

Most of all, what shows you what kind of person Mr. Song was is his kids Yunsu and Yunchol. They are good people.
I am glad to have them as a family.”

R.I.P., Mr. Song.



Drive by mom visit

13 11 2013

Mom did a drive by last night. Mr. Song had an immigration appointment in Durham, so they hung out at McDonald’s, until Ed and I got home.

Mom always arrives in a hurricane of shopping bags, plastic containers of food, and whatever OCD-binge over stock she has in her freezer, like eight packages of pastrami or whatever else was on sale.

We went to pick up my foam mattress then had dinner at Golden Corral, where Mom put every white food on her plate, and Mr. Song had fish followed by vegetables followed by fruit. Korean Jack Sprat and his missus.

Mom found Ed’s bong under the sink, which led to a lot of questions interspersed with, “Are you going to New Zealand? Do you still miss Steve?” and so on. I wonder where Eddie gets his ADD.

Ed came home from a late-night work task, and we both jimmied a boxspring up the spiral staircase, so I can sleep on a bed. We ended up sleeping in and having coffee together, only after Mom called to ask if that wasn’t really a crack pipe she saw.

It was a wonderful night. Mom had a good time, and I think Eddie also got some gratification out of buying us all dinner. I was rewarded by putting self-importance aside and business aside and enjoying the present with Ed and Mom.



moving back home

1 08 2013

Before leaving Seoul, I counted the days to being back in North Carolina. I anticipated seeing friends, drinking draft beer and running through the forest.

In fact, I’m feeling unsettled. I had a mild panic attack in Whole Paycheck yesterday.

I didn’t expect to feel very different, having been in Korea less than two years with visits in between. Driving around Fayetteville and Raleigh with Eddie, I had a feeling of, “Everything looks the same.” It felt like I’d been here last month, and that’s neither good nor bad.

Eddie said, “you’ll find small things have changed.” In fact, people have changed. They moved on with their lives.

Driving down Clarendon Street through my old neighborhood started making me feel uneasy. When I walked into Whole Foods, I was surprised to feel unsettled instead of eager. The store was overwhelming. None of the beer looked familiar. I expected to see people I knew and wasn’t sure if I wanted to. It felt like visiting ghosts. I have so many good memories of friendship and love from living there, but I guess you can’t go back.

Everyone has moved on with their lives. I expected as much, but it’s different being confronted by reality.

The reality is, I’m sleeping on my brother’s couch. I’m not working or attending school at the moment, and my mother loaned me her car. Self-worth, meh. I don’t belong yet.

Spending time with Tanja and Tri last night was soothing. Moving out of my brother’s one-bedroom into a two-bedroom apartment should also provide comfort of having a tangible space of my own. And I think getting out to volunteer this month will also make me feel better. I keep thinking about Tuesdays With Morrie. Morrie says the only way to find meaning in your life is to devote yourself to others.

On the upside, unpacking clothes from the storage unit is like going on a shopping spree.

seoul to seattle

30 07 2013

I’m flying from Seattle to Raleigh tonight.*

I was sad to leave Seoul and my friends there and lamented not seeing as many people as I could have. Now that I’m stateside though, I’m out-of-my-skin impatient to see my brother and friends and experience the familiar.

I’m so glad I got to see my dad for three days first. He showed me around his new home with his wife Sherry, and we tooled around Roy, Washington, population 800.


scenic run through Roy

We ate bantam eggs for breakfast, rode bicycles in the dark and finished the day with Blue Moons on the back patio.

Two things I love about my dad are he has an excellent memory and he likes to go. Every day, he had stories to tell about his wheeling and dealing. We visited thrift shops and bought roadside cherries on the way to Mount Rainier. We went to the Nisqually Indian casino for a buffet of Dungeness crab and black forest cake.

My dad looked older than the last time I’d seen him, which made me sad.
Maybe he was thinking the same of me. He walked with a slight limp, and I tried to remember the last time I’d seen him.

Three years ago?
Nanny’s funeral?

We argued about Trayvon Martin and President Obama on the way to the mountain. We swapped stories about Korea. Dad told me about his life with Sherry. He likes to get up and go; she doesn’t like to leave the house. I got to see in person both their differences and how they take care of each other.

Every time I’m with him, I learn nuggets about Dad and our family.

Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures of Dad or Sherry, but I’ll be back within the year and every year thereafter. Life is short.





 * delayed post