Monday, September 10, 2007

Wings to Fly — 3

Memoir Index

My Childhood

The earliest story, which I have no recollection, is I cried a lot as a baby. My mother was in charge of caring for such a large family, I was left to my aunts and uncles then in high school. I would cry to the point, one time my uncle placed me outside the front door and left me crying harder. Could this be where I pick up a sense that my life was in danger unless people liked me? Sense of fear and danger haunted me. I worked all my life to get other’s approval, to be liked by others.

Oh the security my grandfather provided for me. I was his first grandchild and he loved me. I remember around age 5, I would wake up at dawn, early. I would go to climb the mountain with him. It probably was a hill. To me it was a mountain. It was daily excursion he had. We would set out around 6am. As we were climbing the hill/mountain we would greet other grandpas who came out for a walk. On top of the hill there would be many grandpas, chatting and visiting. I was the only child there and felt very special. When we came back to our home, we would experience the most delicious breakfast you could imagine. Fish, meat, dumplings, vegetables and rice. Oh how I loved my grandfather. My father was at work always. My mother was too busy taking care of so many people in her family.

My grandfather, at one point, disappeared from my life. He went to USA to visit his daughter who had married an American soldier. He did not come back to me. The sense of abandonment was so profound. He probably thought it was easier to leave without facing tears of beloved grandchild begging him not to leave.

I remember, oh I must have been 7 or 8 years old. I was climbing hills with my cousins who were much older. We went grasshopper hunting. I have never done this before nor will I ever do it again. We would collect lots of grasshoppers, then build a fire and roast them to make the most delicious snack. The joy of hunting, collecting, building a fire…the breeze, the beauty of hills and mountains, the sunshine on us happy children…I could still see it so clearly. Today I could not eat such a snack.

I was in a river with 2 or 3 other children. I did not know how to swim. I was having so much fun walking on rocks….all the sudden I fell. The water is over my head. I jumped to grasp for breath of air, but I was still under water...I screamed… The children were frightened. They were not big enough to pull me out. I watched water closing over me and everything turned dark, just then I was aware of someone rushing towards me, picked me up and carried me to the banks. I was aware that he was comforting my companions. When I came around, he was nowhere to be found….Was he an angel… I never found out who he was…

I remember going to my grandfather’s home, my mother’s father. I was 7 years old. This was the first time I was visiting him. From train station to his home, people were stopping their work and looking at us…just about everyone. I asked why. I am told, they are saying, “Those are Master Park’s grandkids from Seoul”. They have not seen us. My grandfather Park was a wealthy man. He owned all the fields in that village and every one worked for him. He allowed us to play with his orchard fruit. He would give us bushels and we would set up a stand to sell them for penny a piece. People would come far and wide to buy from us children, we were playing but they were getting bargain not found anywhere. We saw servants kill a cow, pig, many chickens…it was his 60th birthday. The whole village and surrounding villages were invited. People came all day long for birthday feast they would probably never see again. I felt like a princess.

I remember, as a small child, just watching my mother work. She was always so busy. Busier than what a young woman can handle. I would experience loneliness so strong, and incredible yearning for her yet I knew my mother was too busy. She had too many people to take care of and I was one of so many people.

I would watching my younger brother play. He was the leader of the pack at age 4. He was always playing with so many friends. I was so afraid of people and stayed in safety of my home. I would watch my brother and wait for him to come home to play with me. He was the only friend I had…

I was 7 years old. I had a baby sister. Oh how adorable. I wanted to take her out to the play ground. Mother didn't let me. One day, she said ok. My sister was about 6 months old. I thought she must want to go down the slide. I carried her on my back and while climbing the steps, I droped her. Oh I was so scared….
She grew up to be a brilliant writer. She too would attract people and make friends so easily… Yet I was so scared of people.

One day I was sitting on a swing in our back yard, alone as usual…no friends. I was looking at the clouds above my head. I wondered who is above the clouds. Is the world created for me? Is there a God? Who is he? What is he?

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