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[Opinion] Mother, It`s Thanksgiving again

Posted September. 30, 2001 08:46,   


Mother, whenever I call your name softy, my heart begins to ache. No mother who lived through this nation`s modern history has had a luxurious life but your life was singular in its hardship. You received the Christian faith during the war when the spirit of death trampled through the land. For thirty years after your husband`s death, you bore the weight of life on the power of faith alone. Looking back, the life you led was not yours at all. Your life was always buried under the lives of your children.

Mother, I`ve become a hollow man and as I walk the city streets, I sometimes miss your calloused hands rubbing my back and peer up at the sky. Yet, I don`t have many memories of going to you with good news. It seems I only sought you out when I was tired from life`s hardships and wanted to run and cry somewhere.

Mother, it is Thanksgiving again. The family have gathered but you are not here. The garden of the house we grew up in is full of weeds. The tall persimmon tree and the leaves rolling on the ground seem deserted and lonely. Do you remember that night on Thanksgiving day when we sat on the porch and talked with one another as we gazed at the round moon above? You said to me then, ``Don`t forget your land and roots.``

One year when I could not go see you on Thanksgiving, you told me the same thing. ``You can forget about me. But I`m worried that you might forget the land and your roots.``

The thing that I regret the most now is why I was so stingy about going to visit you once every year for Thanksgiving and New Years. It was morning after the last Thanksgiving day I spent with you. As I prepared to leave, I asked you to come up next year since the drive was so hard for me. As you helped me put my stuff in the car, you spoke to me.

``Don`t talk about Thanksgiving next year. I might not be at home then . . . ``

I asked you, ``Where are you going?``

``Who knows, I might be going somewhere really nice . . . ``

Your words were almost heartless but I saw the mist spreading into the future. Like your word, you left for a place you longed for, a place without loss or tears, before the next Thanksgiving came.

Mother, I look back and I feel like I have lived my life forgetting the two things that you told me so often not to forget. I feel as if your insistence that I come down for Thanksgiving had more to do than just feeding your son, daughter, and grandson and rubbing their backs. Perhaps you wanted to awaken your children who wandered across asphalt roads to the land on which we grew and our original roots.

Mother, the harvest moon will shine over the mountain yonder again this year. Your children who so longed for travel and freedom have come back home one by one and are sitting in the yard. But you are not here to run out to greet us.

The sky still lights up slowly behind the mountain at our home and the bugs and nameless living things gather together here and there as they always did. I gaze at them whose lives are joyfully connected and I realize once again that you were the power that held up this land. You guarded this home with your gentle smile, a smile that only the mothers who have lived through so many years, so much change and sorrow can give. I see this now.

Now, I will never see that smile in this world. Good bye, mother, my mother whom I long to see somewhere on a distant path.

Kim Byoung-Jong (Artist, Professor at Seoul National University, Donga Ilbo Editorial Staff Guest Writer)