Here is a piece written by Massimo Park, whose blog you can find here – Rumi Supertramp. I don’t want to speak for Massimo, but he is an exceptional writer who has guided and motivated the group throughout. Fantastic, but I want to see more Mass!
Halmunee and the sky – Massimo Park
“Can’t you rebook it? I’ve got teaching at 4.”
“He’s fully booked until next month. If she doesn’t get in to see him she’ll have to wait another month.”
“Fine. I’ll reschedule my classes, ” I said through gritted teeth, thinking I would have to reschedule my entire week. MY week. Why do I have to do this? Why don’t my parents take her to the specialists? After all, it is my mother’s mom. The endless appointments with doctors and specialists for my grandmother’s heart problem was taking its toll on my busy schedule. I was trying to complete my Master’s degree and hold down a full-time job tutoring students.
“Come on halmunee!” I said impatiently as she carefully measured each step of the stairs. Immediately, I was overcome with guilt and I offered her my arm and waited patiently for her to descend the steps centimetres at a time, while I seethed inside. Once we were inside my car, she apologized for troubling me all the time and said she should die quickly so she wouldn’t have to burden me anymore.
“No, halmunee, guenchun-ha” using one of the few words i knew in Korean, the all-purpose catch word “guenchun-ha” meaning “it’s ok, it’s alright”, yea, everything was ok, everything was alright, but then, why was i clenching the steering wheel so hard?
Why did I dream about completing my Master’s degree and finally being free of my family to escape to a job overseas, ironically in Korea, the land where my family came from?
I didn’t want to deal with my family’s problems anymore. My family’s problems! Not mine!
I dropped her off at the apartment and told her I would pick her up tomorrow for the appointment at four. I went straight to work, running late, as usual.
The next day, I knocked on the door to her apartment. I knocked louder, but I didn’t hear her slow shuffling feet and the soft inquiring voice, “Who is it?” even though she knew it was me. She was terrified of somebody forcing their way in. I thought it was some kind of remnant reflex from her experiences during the Korean War, but perhaps all old people feel so vulnerable.
I opened the door with the spare key i had and as I entered her tiny apartment with the tv and sofa and the Catholic paraphernalia hanging all over the walls, I ignored the loneliness that carpeted the whole apartment. I entered her bedroom.
“Halmunee?” I called out quietly, for she appeared to be sleeping. She was on the bed, her face set like a grim mask, like one of the traditional wooden masks carved by villagers in Korea that seemed to be smiling and yet grimacing at the same time. I approached her bed and touched her arm, “Halmunee?”
She didn’t move and I noticed now she wasn’t breathing. I’d never learned how to take someone’s pulse, so I put my ear to her heart, and I heard the sky.