The Importance of Family and Reassurance that Life Does Goes On…

The Importance of Family and Reassurance that Life Does Goes On…

This past Saturday, the family celebrated Mom’s birthday by doing one of her favorite things.

We headed out for a day at the lake.
Independence Lake is one of those places that we would go to regularly over the years. Sometimes it was a Memorial Day or Labor Day. Other times it was for a birthday.
Last weekend was her birthday weekend. Dad and I planned the event, and my wife planned and prepared the meal (although I do admit that it was a bit strange not having Mom’s input as to the food or a strong reminder to keep it healthy). My Brother and Sister were there with their families, as was my own.
We are determined to stay close as a family. Mom had always wanted it that way, and even in her absence, it’s the one thing that we all work on maintaining. This picnic at the lake is a testament to that desire.
My wife Jean (as she’s referred to in Mom’s book) took on the bulk of the food prep and grilling and even made sure to have coleslaw the way Mom used to make it. Jean had been up to one or two the night before making delicious food, like her special hamburgers that were so big and juicy, they resembled meatloaf in a hamburger bun, but not as healthy as Mom would have liked (although no one complained). She even made sure to get Doctor D (My nephew’s gaming handle) some of those spicy sausages he likes, but I stole one of them. ;D

The kids spent a lot of time hunting around the shoreline looking for rocks and snails. Izzy even got herself a crayfish from under a rock. Dad brought some really nice fishing nets the kids used to sift through sand and pebbles to find the snails.
Dad and my sister took a long walk out on the boardwalk and around the perimeter of the park, just as he and Mom used to do.

We ate, laughed and had a great time, just as it was when Mom was there with us, and even though she wasn’t with us, it didn’t really feel like she was gone. It’s really interesting that even when someone is gone, there can be times when it still feels like they’re there, even when you can’t see them.
For us, the day was about having some fun, doing something that Mom really liked doing as a family, and creating new memories for all of us.

Happy Birthday Mom!

Happy Birthday Mom!

A lot of time has gone by, and yet, it really doesn’t feel like that long.

When someone that is close to you and you love dearly isn’t there anymore, there’s usually a void, a feeling of emptiness inside.
This past weekend, we were over at Mom and Dad’s house to visit, and still, to me, it feels somehow like Mom is still there. Perhaps she’s taking a nap upstairs. Maybe she’s downtown running errands, but the house still feels warm and comforting. Like her presence has never left.
I still expect her to come downstairs when we sit down for dinner. I just know she’s going to step out the back door as we sit outside enjoying the weather.
I know she’s really not there.
But if there’s one thing that I am happy for, it’s that Dad has somehow kept the house as it was when she was with us. He, in the usual stoic Koral manner, goes about his business, which includes moving furniture, spot-cleaning and doing a bit of gardening.
“I didn’t plant as much this year…” Dad says with a tired smile.
I help him change the storm windows over to screens, remembering all the years I’ve helped him do it when Mom was there. I look over at the patio, perhaps expecting to see her smiling as she sat watching us while sipping on an ice tea.
Today is her birthday. For so many years, we’d go and celebrate it with her. Usually, there’d be a Zingerman’s birthday cake. The family all around, and the most horribly out of tune rendition of “Happy Birthday” sung that would make her cringe every year.
I do miss her. She’s in my thoughts almost every day. I can’t just pick up the phone and call her.
I miss you, mom. Happy Birthday To You.
– Minh

The Year The Trees Didn’t Die [Last Blog Post]

The Year The Trees Didn’t Die [Last Blog Post]

Minh was over the moon. “She knows how to cook Korean food!” We were standing in the kitchen as I put the kettle on for tea.
“She seems like a nice person.” Ken said, level headed as usual.
”Just don’t jump into anything too soon.” I of course had this worry. Wasn’t he going too fast? He’d just met Jean and they were already cooking together! Id seen him go though unimaginable heartache and pain, and I was scared that he was just like a moth to a buglight.
“It’ll be OK, mom.” He said as he ran out the door to pick her up. That was his usual answer. The one that turned on all the alarms in my mind. I watched out the window as he jogged out to his little back Honda Civic.
That car was the car of his dreams. It didn’t thump like the last one, and was fully paid off, unlike the Red Cavilier that had been repossessed. This one was fast. It was low to the ground, and it was his baby. “I guess that he’s doing better these days…” I said to Ken as he pulled down the driveway.
”Yup.” Ken wasn’t mincing words over this one. Where did all the time go? Minh had grown up, and as much as I tried, I could not protect him from pain or the harsh cruelness of this world. Even living here in Ann Arbor had not protected him from the evil that lurks in the shadow.
It was about 12:30 AM when I heard his civic pulling into the drive. “He’s home, love.” Mumbled Ken, barely cracking an eye open.
“I wonder if he’s ok…” I said. Ken sighed and got up. “Ill check.” He said and wearily went down the steps.
“Hi Dad!” It certainly didn’t sound like he was any worse for the wear. I nodded back off to sleep, relatively certain things were going to be alright.
“So, apparently Minh and Jean were out having a late meal.” Ken had brought me tea in bed the next morning. I glanced at the clock. Sunlight was streaming in the bedroom window. “Is he here?” I said, taking a sip. “Hah… can you believe it? He said he was leaving to go to church with Jean!” I looked over at Ken. He was chuckling as he got back into bed and picked up the paper.
“We’ve bed trying to get him to go to church for years!” I laughed sleepily, rolling over. I lay there for a while thinking about our life. Chandler, Broadway, our lives and our children, Minh, Anita and Sung. I remembered the first time Ken and I met Minh. Getting off that plane in the social worker’s arms, smiling at us. Laughing. Accepting us for who we were in that year the trees didn’t die.
I closed my eyes, and for once, I felt like everything was right with the world.