You are gone now, and I am thinking about the life you left behind.

What was it like to grow up in Korea?
Were you scared when you escaped from the North to the South?
What was it about my Halmoni that made you want to marry her?
Did America overwhelm you?

We spoke different languages, so I never asked the questions. Although I wish now that I would have tried harder to discover the answers, I take comfort in the things I do know and remember about you, the things that transcend words and biographies.

Your generous heart. Your quirky sense of humor. Your unfailingly energetic spirit. Your thousand watt smile.

Just a few minutes ago, I negotiated naptime with a little boy you never met. The cancer debilitated you before you could meet him. He has almond-shaped eyes and a huge, sweet smile, and he doesn't know yet that he carries you with him, that he takes a part of you along in his daily adventures of mushing bananas between his fingers and climbing into cabinets.

Tears fall hot and fresh from my own almond-shaped eyes, spilling onto the eyelet trim of my cotton robe. It feels different - not entirely grief. Like an overwhelming sense of the great expanse of life - years and continents and experiences and generations - edged with the inescapable sadness of goodbye.

Sleep well, Haraboji. I will miss your smile.


  1. Beautiful and Poignant...I remember how much he lovingly and joyfully played with his grandchildren, kind of like your Dad, always concerned about their comfort and feelings.

  2. your feelings here are so palpable. your way with words and portrayal of honesty is awe-inspiring. thank you for sharing your heart and memories.

  3. Grief is an amazing thing. What a beautiful tribute.

  4. my heart rings with happiness when I see you have posted. Haven't been let down yet. I echo what alfie & leaves and Feathers say...

  5. thanks all. he was sweet man who lived a long and adventurous life. i'm glad he's not suffering anymore.

  6. What a lovely tribute. I didn't know your grandfather but I'm remembering mine and am so thankful for the times that we shared thanks to your beautiful writing.