Wednesday, December 31, 2008

To Have Everyone Under One Roof

December 27, 28, and 29th were a whirlwind. I had my 4 children and Andrija (Henna's boyfriend), Cora (Christian's girl friend) and Olivia (Seth's girlfriend) all under one roof. I did not imagine how wonderful it was to have all of my children here enjoying each other.

Henna and Andrija arrived at 10:30pm on 27th, Saturday. Because Cora and Olivia needed to leave for Chicago early in the morning (7 am), the kids wanted to visit each other as long as possible. Henna and Andrija both loved Borcht (heavy meat Russian winter soup). Henna and Lizy planned something special for that night. They would give presents to each other. Exchanging gifts have not been our family tradition.

Growing up in Korean tradition, there was no Christmas and hence no tradition of exchanging gifts. My mother would buy things for us as she could afford them throughout the year and saved it. When winter break came, we could have it and just tell the kids at school that was our gift(s). So when my local church did not celebrate Christmas because it was not Christ's actual birthday, it was no loss to me. So we raised our kids without Christmas. Unlike me they wished there was Christmas and everything that came with it.

Now I realize, it's not so much Christmas tradition, but I wish I had fostered gift giving practice. To find joy in giving is precious gift for anyone. I heard Henna and Lizy planning what they wanted to give without telling anyone else. They spent long time planning out a gift(s) for everyone.

It must have been close to midnight on Saturday when we settled in our living room. The joy and delight could be felt as each person got a little something(s). I watched the scene with so much contentment. Christian opened his gift and found a secret treasure book. Lizy had spent days cutting out inner pages to carve out a secret compartment. The compartment was filled with little treasures. The tickle on Seth's face when he opened a box and found a teddy bear made with 10 pairs of socks. The bear was holding what looked like a candy, it actually was a flash drive. Henna received gloves, fragrant lotion, and more... all from her $5 a week allowance. Henna presented a special something to everyone. Because I knew the girls were doing this, I also prepared something for the kids. Oh the joy of giving and receiving.

Tom and I finally went to bed at 2:30 am. I don't know when the kids went to bed. Christian stayed up till 5 am. Tom and Christian had to wake up at 6:30am to take Cora and Olivia to train station at the airport. Wow what a day.

Rest of that day and the next was filled with little activities, just being together and loving every moment. Having everyone was the best gift given to Tom and I.

Friday, December 26, 2008

What a Day

I woke up feeling refreshed which is unusual. So often when I have to leave my house at 6:30am to go to work, for some strange reason I am not able to get a good night sleep. Must be psychosomatic fear that I might over sleep. I already packed my lunch and my coffee to keep me awake while I am driving through the pitch black morning.

The road is icy. I considered how I hated driving. My early years of my marriage, I drove to work, to church, and to the grocery store. When children came, I drove to their schools(one year I had 3 kids in 3 different schools), ballet classes, soccer meets, and to libraries. My driving muscle grew as my family grew. As I was driving on sheet of ice this morning, I was quite proud of myself. It is exciting that I am driving up to 60 mile distance to get to work through rain, snow, sleet, hail, storm, whatever the weather was dishing out for the day with out much consequence other than taking extra time. One time I got a ticket because it was safer for me to pass the red light rather than trying to stop a sliding car. But I also enjoyed the beauty of sunshine and sweet wind and the expanse of country driving.

This morning was the worst. Just a touch of the break pad caused the car to slide to the curve. Very carefully I drove past our block, turning onto SR 119. I saw the stop sign way in front of me. It must be a mile, maybe half a mile down the slope. I was sliding. My feet was not on gas pedal. Way down there, I see at least 5 or 6 cars with emergency light flashing. There must be an accident. I put my foot on the break every so gently. The car swerved, hits the snow bank to the right, then bounced off and slid into the center and then I did a slow motion U turn on the ice against my will. Soon I was on the other lane facing the opposite way. I tried to gently press the gas pedal and move up the hill. I went no where. The wheels ran in place. I called Bob (my scheduling pharmacist who sends me to different pharmacies as needed) and told him of my dilemma. As I was describing what happened, then my cell phone died. I thought I must wait until state police found me. I was only 3 miles from home.

Almost 2 hours later I was in the safety of my home. A young man whose car had stranded a little ahead of me, pushed his car to the plateau of the slope. He walked down some distance to my car and offered to push my car. He pushed my car to the plateau as I steered. Before I could fully express my gratitude, he drove away. When I entered home, Lizy was in tears, so happy that I had gotten home safe. Tom and his dad was out to rescue me. With dead cell phone, I was not able to inform them of my situation. The last contact they had was when I called to let them know that I was stuck and that my cell phone was dying. Tom and his dad was equipped with sand, pick, and shovel. Fortunately I called him before they got to that down graded slope. Then I called Bob. He was so worried about me. He thought I got into an accident or I must be in a ditch. Feeling helpless, he called Tom. Bob told me not to worry and stay home and rest.

We (Tom and I) went to grocery store and bought enough to take care of 6 young people (my 3 older kids and their special someones) that are coming tomorrow. Imagine 10 people eating continually though out the day. Yet I was so excited. I spent the whole day cooking. Tom was busy cleaning. I could not have prepared so much food if I were working today and was grateful that I had opportunity to be home. Then I learned that Christian and Cora, and Seth and Olivia were coming were scheduled to come tomorrow).

Soon they were home, in Goshen. After hugs and greetings I lead them to the dining room. I made a huge pot of Borcht (slavic soup heavy in meat). My intention was that this could fill in the gap between meals when anyone was hungry through out the weekend. I then learned that both Cora and Olivia were vegetarians. All of my cooking were heavy in meat (like most American food). With the help of the girls, we rushed to make some non-meat dinner (spaghetti sauce with peas and carrots) and noodles.

I am tired. I worked non stop today. What fortunate thing that icy roads prevented me from going to work. The young people and Tom were playing volleyball in the living room and I sat on the couch enjoying of their immersion in joy and laughter. The ball was globe balloon. The game was to catch, hit, or throw the ball while you are in the air (your feet cannot be on the floor during any action). It was fun to watch. It was a fun day.
I was so happy I was home today.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


It has been a long six months. Since March Sheryl has been busy sorting out her household things. She was finally moving to Arizona with her husband, long waited dream. At age 62, she was not quite ready for retirement. She was pretty confident that there would be Kroger in Tucsan Arizona where she could continue her work until her retirement. Her husband is 72. Although he was already retired he needed to work for financial reasons and for his well being. He loved his job and the thought of not working .... well he just has to work and NAPA his current company had an extension in Tucsan and promised him a job there if he were to move.

Getting the house in order, packing, gathering things for garage sale, kept her incredibly busy. Her anticipation of moving to Arizona where her son and family resided was exciting. She could hardly contain herself sometimes. She would tell all the customers that soon they would not see her... Finally Sheryl and Carl sold or gave away just about everything. They did not want anything left. When the house was sold, they were as light as feather. They would get an apartment out there. They would buy whatever they needed and live a simple life.

One day I came to work. She was gone. I had known all along, yet I felt a void. Sheryl was gone. Melissa was hired in her stead. One day Melissa told me, "Sheryl called from Arizona, but is having a hard time. The people she is working with ... her situation is not easy." Then another week, Melissa told me that Carl did not get NAPA job. I felt bad for them.

About a month ago, Melissa told me that Sheryl and Carl are moving back to Indiana. After 3 months Carl was not able to land a job. NAPA downsized and eliminated the job that were to be his. Oh no, I thought. They sold their home in Indiana. In fact they don't even own any furniture even if they were to rent an apartment. One good news; Sheryl was told that her job here in Indiana would take her back.

Last week Sheryl came into work as I walked in. I gave her a big hug and were back working as two sisters in Christ. She told me of some horror stories about working with so many people who were so unhappy with their lives. She even told of a pharmacist whose every other word was profanity. She stood up to him. She tolerated obscenities but that he must not use her Father's name in such derogatory way. He avoided her after that. Then she told me of Carl's inability to get a job. NAPA told him that he had his job waiting for him if he were to come back to Indiana. When he contacted them again after moving back, he was told NAPA had to downsize and his spot was eliminated (again). They told him, in January of 09 something may open up.

Sheryl talked about her home here. She is renting. It is a beautiful little home, fully furnished for only $500 per month. They could stay as long as they needed. Then she talked of her plan. She would finally be eligible for social security in two years. At that point they want to move to Arizona once more. She would be covered by Medicare. Sheryl is a cancer survivor and health insurance she must have until medicare kicks in. They would buy a small camper. They can live in Arizona during winter time and travel through out US during spring, summer, and fall. She says, "My good Lord is taking care of everything. I am so grateful that he knows what is best for us."