My Dear Mother (Mar. 21, 1941 - Oct. 18, 1995)
Today marks the 9th year anniversary of my mother's death.
Most of us either have, or will have experienced the loss of parents at some point in our lives, which makes my situation hardly unique. But I still would like to share a few words about my mother.
My mother endured a very hard life. My father was in and out of my life until he left the family for good when I was six, leaving her to raise me and my sister alone when single motherhood was unheard of in Korea at the time. I am still haunted by the childhood memories of watching her helplessly as she struggled financially and emotionally to keep the family together. I am still bewildered by how she overcame the overwhelming odds through her difficult 54 years.
This one poignant story from her teenage years will stay with me for the rest of my life. When she was in high school, after her own father had left the family also, she found herself months behind in tuition bills. At the school's weekly assembly, the principal of the school routinely called out a dozen or so of students who were also behind in tuition bills in front of the entire student body. After her name was called, she was ordered to go and stand with other students in the same predicament in full display before her classmates for public humiliation.
That unspeakable experience along with her childhood turmoil emboldened her to make our lives much better off than her own, working long and hard hours as a single mother with little regard to her own well being. And through good and countless bad times, her faith in God never wavered.
My Mom was a wonderful mother.
My mother was a phenomenal human being.
Just two days before her death, she asked me and my sister to huddle around her hospital bed. It was our one last time for the three of us together as a family. She admonished us to keep our faith in God in so many words, and then said,
"Thank you. Thank you for having been such wonderful children."
While the dark clouds of the profound sadness and grief that engulfed my heart in the months following her burial have subsided long ago, I am still mindful of the painful memories of her hard life, even though I am certain that she has long forgotten them in the presence of her Dear Savior. My guess is God still uses them to humble me and help keep things in perspective.
Oh Death, where is thy sting?
Oh Death, where is thy victory?
- I Corinthians 15:55