It is a beautiful day. I went out for a walk along the Mill Race Trail between Elkhart River along the canal. I should call my mother I thought. She would enjoy talking to me. She is 83 years old and insist on living alone. So the best we can do is visit or call her on the phone. I have more than one hour.
I was expecting the "same old" stories that she tells me over and over and over. I could almost recite them. At times she does not even realize that she is repeating herself for 20th time in one time stretch.
As she was talking, my mind was far away. Agreeing with her and synchronizing the timing of response that she expects at the right moments. I had heard this story so many times before, but today she pulled on my heart until I was in tune with her story telling.
"We had just immigrated to US. You were about 12 years old. After school, I would find you in bed with expression of forlorn life. Depression was on your face every day. I was desperate and did not want to lose you the way your aunt and uncle lost their daughter TaeSoon; from depression to loss of her mind. She never got her mind restored.
TaeSoon was 16 years old. She was probably the smartest girl in the family of seven children. So smart that everyone knew that she would become somebody someday. Yet she did not have the beauty that her older sister and younger sister had. She had fallen in love with a local boy. Her mother and father did not approve of him. They told her that her status was too high for that common boy. This was Korea during early 1960's. Her dad was a high level executive and they were very wealthy. Because of the disapproval of the parents TaeSoon had to give up her love. She changed. The boy was taken away from her yet her mind hung on to him and eventually desire for life left. She never sought another man. Eventually all her siblings got married and left home. When her father retired, he bought a large farm. He gave TaeSoon bit of land to manage herself, to plant vegetables and flowers. She lived with her parents. She had lost zest for life. Her ambition in career died. In time her mother died. Then her father died. She grew to be an old woman. I don't know if she is still alive or not."
That is a sad story of my cousin I thought. Yet this was an intro to how that relates to me as a 12 years old. My mother continued.
"You told me that ...Life is too hard. Learning English is too hard. You have no friends.... I told your dad that we must do something to make you happier. Otherwise you may end up like your cousin TaeSoon. You had tendency to be depressed. That is why we bought you a piano."
At that time we lived in a cheap one bedroom apartment. My parents had the bedroom. My brother had the dining room and my little sister and I had the living room. It totally did not make any sense to buy a piano at that stage in life. My mother continued ...'I told your dad, I want to save you(JaeHi) from depression that can lead to mind loss. I don't care about money....' Once we bought the piano, I found you playing the piano every day after school. I did not see you being depressed anymore."
On my part, yes I do remember those days. I felt it was my duty to play the piano otherwise all of their money would be wasted. My ten years old brother and five years old sister had no interest in piano. I kept on playing because my parents sacrificed too much. I knew how many hours they had to work to buy that instrument. I never understood why they bought a piano. I did not know that I appeared so depressed to my mother. I was always a melancholy child and having melancholy face was the norm for me. Immigrating at age eleven and being put into my grade when I did not speak any English was not an easy thing. Not having any friends was not a easy phase to go through. Anyhow it was my duty to play whether I wanted to or not especially since my brother and sister did not care to play the piano. My mother felt that they did the right thing to pull me away from depression.
When I married Tom, he bought a piano because he wanted to play. I hardly notice that we have a piano. I don't play our piano but I always love to hear Tom play.