My Mother is Going to Korea

My sister alerted me to the fact that my mom is visiting her brother and sister-in-law for a couple weeks later this month. She said our uncle, who is 17 years older than my mom, isn’t doing too well healthwise. My mom confirmed this over the phone, except for the sad health part – she said my aunt & uncle had simply asked her to come. (I’m not sure if she didn’t want to bum me out, or if she didn’t feel like trying to break this information down into Korean baby language for me. Maybe both?)

My uncle and aunt on my mom’s side live in a really rural area in Korea. The last time I visited them, their walls appeared to be made from yellowed newspaper and rice paper (or maybe my Western upbringing racistly fabricated that impression upon my 8 year old mind), I peed in a copper pot, pooped in a field while looking at a cow, and there was a gleefully deranged jindo dog (permanently?) chained to a weird cave-like structure in the front yard, doing flips in his shit and piss. They were, I observed, kind of South Korean rednecks. But still, very kind people (dog rearing practice notwithstanding) who obviously appreciated and respected the lush, river-lined foresty farmland that surrounded them.

I’d like to think that they’ve at least gotten an indoor toilet by now, 20 years later. But I guess I’ll ask my mom and find out for sure when she gets back.

My uncle visited us for a few weeks at at a time in New York on several occasions. I remember these visits as tense, because there was another non-English speaking grownup in my midst, and later, frustrating because OHMYGOD THAT HICK JUST TAMPERED WITH MY ONLY PAIR OF CONTACT LENSES AND NOW I HAVE TO WEAR MY STUPID GLASSES TO SCHOOL IN FRONT OF RYAN SANDLER AND I JUST HAVE ALL THESE EMOTIONS MOSTLY RAGE. I hope he doesn’t think I’m still rotten like that.

His wife also came to visit New York once, but her stay was long enough for her to land a job nannying for a young Korean couple with two sons. I remember watching her inscribe farewell notes onto the very burlap sacks of barley she’d gotten as parting gifts for the kids.


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