I absolutely love learning about different cultures. One of the main reasons could be because of my background. My biological mother came here from Italy and passed away when I was 9. I still miss her. My father remarried when I was 10 to my present mother, whom is Korean, and one of the most remarkable women anyone could ever know.
Needless to say my background was fraught with difficulties and complications that could fill a novel. Most people would swear I had to be lying. However, it is what it is and it made me who I am. Though I would never wish what I lived through on anyone else difficulties made me stronger.
This morning I was thinking about my Imo Moon Ja. When I was a young girl I thought she was one of the most beautiful people I had ever met. She had the kindest soul and the most upbeat spirit. Yet often times she was sad.
In Seoul she had been a professor of Korean at the university. In the US she was nothing more than another person coming to the US trying to fit in. I remember her crying one night saying that people in the US treated her as if she were stupid because she wasn't proficient in English. They felt that because she couldn't express herself in English that she had to be ignorant and treated her that way. She was not happy. I know that Imo Moon Ja was far from stupid. She had a world of knowledge tucked away in her brain. In reality it was those that couldn't see or understand the intelligence that was there that were lacking in brain power.
Imo used to spend a lot of time with me. She would teach me Korean words and gave me a Korean name. She was very energetic and loving. I knew that when she married my Uncle P.D., who was also Korean as well as a very gifted artist, that they would have wonderfully brilliant children. I was right. They had three, two girls and a boy.
I was sad when they all moved to Seattle. I would truly miss her. Uncle P.D. had created beautiful works of art and had a showing in the Corcoran Gallery of Art in DC. He was well read and was headed for greatness. His talent is what inspired me to start painting.
Sadly not long after they left Uncle PD passed away. Imo Moon Ja did not take it well. It was like part of her soul had been ripped away. She came back to stay with us for a while. I wanted so much to take away her pain, but no one could. I remember laying with her sometimes trying to comfort her. She had literally lost a part of herself. I think her saving grace was having her children. But life for her from then on was going to be turbulent and hard. She persevered.
Her ability to overcome every obstacle she came across is what has inspired me in my own life. Because of Imo Moon Ja I know that regardless of what happens we can make it in life. Even when the worst possible thing might happen you can move on.
Imo Moon Ja never remarried, but she devoted everything she had into raising her children. I think it's paid off. They are all gifted, charming, and successful. Each one has her heart of gold. They all love her completely and understand her little idiosyncrasies.
Imo Moon Ja was a major factor in how I grew up and how I saw the world.
So, Imo, kamsahamnida. Saranghae.