Saturday, January 26, 2013

It Was Then

When I come to Chicago to visit Henna and family, I make a point to visit mother. Age 77 seems young to me. After all that is only twenty years from now for me. Yet my mother has become very aged from spending countless hours in painful memories. We spend hours together, rather I listen for hours of her past. I have encouraged her  to think of the sweet moments. They are like gems. One must search  because they don't surface easily.

Last night she told me of my father. He has sacrificed his life to take care of his parents and family. At an early age he was working full time for US army. This would be early 1950s during Korean war. He did not want to spend (rather waste) his hard earned money to rent a small room for himself. He had a large family to support; his father, mother, sisters and their husbands, their children, and his younger brothers. He was allowed to put a cot under a stairway of army bunk. He was hardly able to sleep when GIs would run up and down the stairs.

He gave all his money to his father. Even after he married and started to have his own family the burden and responsibility for his parents and family was with him. I could feel sadness and bitterness rising in my mother. I heard this story hundreds of times. How we suffered...

Mother, what I hear is some one so noble, he was able to put so many people before himself. Maybe grandfather was so grieved in his loss of his farm and his inability to take care of his family, all he could do is try to stretch that money father gave him to take care of war displaced family.

Does that mean I am noble too? Said my mother.

Once you release the bitterness and sadness from your heart, you too are noble. I responded.

Your father never complained about his family.  He just took care of them at our expense.

As our conversation continued, I wish I could have known my father for a man with such a big heart rather than through my mother's suffering soul. I saw the world through my mother's eyes of how life should be or should have been. In that I missed the grandness I could have seen in my father.