My Grandmother’s Grave

This is personal and likely not suitable for a public blog, but it’s been on my mind for a long time…My apologies for not posting for a while. Life is busy, and I have nothing to write.

Last weekend, I went back home to see my older brother off. He was flying out to Japan for a new career and a new life. All my best prayers go out to him.

On the drive back to Washington DC, I made a stop though…to my grandmother’s grave site.

My grandmother died two years ago. It was quite sudden. One day, she just didn’t wake up.

In her last years of life and most of my adolescence, she suffered from dementia. She would run away at night believing the devil was out to get her. Or she would prepare a meal for her non-existent husband. Sometimes, she didn’t recognize any of us. That was the worse.

While I’m certain that my father and my brother felt worse than me, I had a lot of feelings of grief, frustration, and guilt while she was living and dead. Visiting her, I would feel embarrassed that I couldn’t speak to her in Korean. My own grandmother, and I never told her I loved her. Eventually, I stopped visiting her just as I closed myself off to Korean culture.

I remember mourning her death. Initially, my mind was detached and cold from the entire situation. It only really hit me during a service we had where just our family were praying in front of the casket. The love and grief in my parent’s voice overwhelmed me. My eyes tear up just thinking about it.  During the funeral, the priest had each of us put holy water on the casket before it was lowered into the ground. It was an unbearable action.

I hatred every single person there. None of them knew her. None of them really cared. One of the church ladies gave me a disposable camera telling me to document the funeral.  I was incredulous. Are you kidding me? Why the fuck would I want your ten dollar camera to document the saddest day in my family’s history? I was very upset and projecting my self-hatred out to everyone else.

Two years later, walking by myself to the grave site, I still easily remembered where it was. Twelve feet away from a trash can, right by the walkway. I broke down into tears.

Last time, we couldn’t afford to buy a headstone so this was the first time I had seen it. The dates said 1916 – 2007. She was 91 years old?

What a life of turmoil and chaos. Born in the midst of World War I, going through Japanese Occupation, the Korean War, and brutal dictatorships of the 1960s and 1970s in Korea. To come to a foreign land at age 70 with no friends and only one son.

I mourned all over ago and made a vow that I wouldn’t let my parents suffer the same fate. That all the pain, sacrifice, and suffering wouldn’t be in vain. I apologized for not returning for two years and for never telling her I loved her, that she was the only angel in my life.

Driving out of the cemetery, I stopped at an intersection red light. There was a guy with a finger pointing out and making eye contact with me. He asks me for a ride to the next intersection, less than a mile away in exchange for five dollars. My windows are wide open, and my doors are unlocked. But I apologize and tell him I’m in a hurry. Indeed, I’m already late. And it seems awfully odd that he couldn’t walk a mile.

He tells me that he lives just up the street and needs a ride. He pleads with me. I slowly start driving away. He calls me a “fucking fagot”.

I’m a little upset, but I start laughing at the absurdity of it.

I believe that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. That with every high is the possibility for a great low. So, I laughed and drove home.


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