3.02.2009

1966

My son is quickly approaching 7. This time in his life brings strong emotions for me. I was just shy of 7 when I arrived at Kennedy Airport from Seoul, Korea. Snippets - scenes, sensations, smells.

We were in Seoul, bustling, noisy, smelly - back in 1966. My mom held my hand so tight it hurt. Dressed in silk and wool, her hair up, clack-clacking in her spike heels, looking every bit the spoiled daughter of a rich family. She didn't know this would hurt her, that this would make her wait 2 years to get a Visa, the officer waiting for a big envelope of cash to cross his desk. This Visa would let her join her husband in the U.S. and be a family again after 5? 6 years apart. Time after time, she wore her custom-made clothes, trying to make a good impression, when all it did was confirm to the bastard that it would be worth the wait.

Clack-clack-clack. Trying to keep up with her so my hand wouldn't hurt more than it already did. Those were the days that when you got lost, you were lost. For good. You got sent to an orphanage and then some white people might adopt you, if you were "lucky." (Remember Toby Dawson?) No TV. No phones. Maybe a radio. How would you find anyone? My mom held me tight. So tight I can still feel the ache.

We'd get home from these trips downtown. My mom would lock herself in a room and cry. Not soft whimpers, but the wretched, anguished cry of a helpless woman used to getting her way. The day she delivered the bribe, she got the stamps in our passports. She stopped crying and started packing. We were gone in less than a month.

When we arrived in the U.S., she would have other reasons to cry.

*

7 comments:

girlymama said...

incredible. just incredible.
thanks for sharing.

AmyP said...

You have quite a story. What a time. Did you ever talk to your mom about this time in life? (once you were older, I mean)

Lora said...

thank you so much for sharing that story. I often wonder about things like this, but it is rude to ask.

Third Mom said...

Amazing. I want to hear more!

Donna said...

I've known you for how long? Yet don't really "know" you! Why did we never talk of this time in your life? What a story. And I'll say it again...why don't you write a book? You have quite a gift...

astonied said...

Grace:
Always remember that your Mom held on tight. What a blessed thing to know...most people don't!
Cheryl

Cheryl said...

I wanted you to know that your post inspired me. It is late, I am sick but you got me blogging a thought that is no where near done but here it is:

One of my girlfriends who is a gifted writer/blogger wrote about her experiences growing up in Korea. As she wrote on her blog:

"Clack-clack-clack. Trying to keep up with her so my hand wouldn't hurt more than it already did. Those were the days that when you got lost, you were lost. For good. You got sent to an orphanage and then some white people might adopt you, if you were "lucky." (Remember Toby Dawson?) No TV. No phones. Maybe a radio. How would you find anyone? My mom held me tight. So tight I can still feel the ache." From: http://blackbeltoma.blogspot.com/

I wonder when she wrote that if she realized just how profound her statement was!

Everyday, most of us are trying to keep up. Up with the Joneses, up with our kids, our jobs, our duties, our dreams and expectations. We try and keep up with our bills, our house and making sure everyone "feels" the love. Yet, often we get lost trying to navigate all that life imposes on us and all that we expect of ourselves. So just imagine how our perception of life would change if we knew that someone's love for us was so great that we knew without a doubt that they would be there to push us and drag us along even if we resisted. Imagine the sense of peace we would have in experiencing someone holding on so tight to us that we could literally feel the ache years later. Consider if everyone here on earth knew what is was like to be loved that much. What a different world it would be!

Some people say that they understand that kind of love through their relationship with God. Others through therapy and enlightenment. But to even have a time in life were we all knew deep in our heart that we were valuable enough to be held onto tightly and that the fear of losing us was as intense as losing one's own soul...