I am going away for the Holiday break and don’t plan on writing till 2012
In thinking about the Holidays, I am remembering my one and only Christmas with my Umma and brother. Here were my words at the time:
Christmas came and things went pretty much as I hoped and my heart is full knowing that we got to celebrate such a big holiday as a family. Not that it was easy, my Umma insisted on going to church on Christmas day, causing a small rupture of chaos in me. She had to be pushed with a temper tantrum on my part to persuade her to come to Christmas dinner at my in-laws. They came to the Christmas pageant and got to see the boys in their comedic splendor. Alas, they both sat stonefaced much to my chagrin and frustration. They came to Christmas Eve service, which is my favorite of the year and my brother insisted on sitting behind the rest of the family, really? What was that all about? Still, I can honestly say Christmas was great.
Each week, I come up with new realizations usually in the form of criticisms, but I guess that is yet another privilege in this new mother-daughter thing I am having. My Umma has a childlike way of being. She lights up when I give her clothes that don’t fit me, she lights up when she gets something special to eat….sense a pattern? I have no courage to ask her for anything. The few times I have intimated, I have been perplexed at the lack of response. I told her how much I like certain Korean foods, she still has cooked nothing in the way of a meal for me or my family. Even when we are eating, I have seen Korean mothers fuss over the dishes to move their child’s favorite dish closer to them and insist on eating more and more. She does none of that for me, though plenty for my brother. She continues to only talk to him and send him to me when she wants something. Where is all that Korean/Asian hospitality that I hear so much about? I see the way she mothers my brother, it’s instinctual, immediate. Not towards me though. I am disheartened that she continues to skulk and scurry around me like a little mouse and speak in whispers. She rarely says anything to me, we walk about each other as if we are in bubbles afraid to touch in case the bubble bursts.
All this time I thought it was just me who was uncomfortable around her but I do believe it is mutual. Since she never got beyond the first meet in her head, this relationship is beyond her imagination. She can’t seem to move. She is stuck and sticking to her story, the only one she really had all this time. She says to anyone who will listen how sorry she is and how she has so much remorse. For 15 years she has been outwardly sorry. It feels tired and I am not sure how much more I can tolerate. I can’t make her feel better but I can’t make myself want to make it easy for her either. I have given away my love and loyalty too easily in my life, and the one time it should matter most, I am standing firm to not to. The one thing I wanted out of this visit was to still like her, I fear that is waning.
I am just counting the days and hours till their departure. One more week and then they are gone. I realize though that in my backwards happiness, my children are sad to see them go. P teared up as he learned that this is their last week and he does not want to see them go. My Umma and brother have been here for so long that in his mind, this is normal and should continue just as it is. In my elation to see them leave, I hope I can muster up a somber face as they depart. Terrible, but true.
Having had some separation from these feelings, I am struck by how angry and hurt I continued to feel. It is suffocating readingthese words again. How different it is now that she is not in my space. I have called her more times these last few months than all the years I have known her collectively. I finally got an international calling plan, the final commitment to staying connected to Umma. Getting calling cards was the last of the walls I created for myself to keep her at bay. I can call her now anytime, morning, night and twice in one day if I want. I don’t, but knowing I can is comforting. I sent a package of slippers for her and boots for my brother. Korean folklore is that you never buy someone shoes…and if you do, they give you a dollar. Something about the recipient walking all over you or out of your life. I just like buying Umma footwear because I love that we have the same size feet. I don’t think she will be walking away from me anytime soon.