My sister and I put together a slideshow for my parents’ Golden Anniversary party.
In February 1963 my mother flew to San Francisco to marry my father. After proposing to her, he left for America to pursue his lifelong dream of higher education. She was to follow him, but her departure was delayed by a year when an x-ray revealed that she had had tuberculosis as a child. Now after a long separation, they would finally be together.
As you might imagine, moving from Korea to America was a radical shift. But it wasn’t as if my mother was unprepared. Having watched plenty of American movies, she knew exactly what to expect:
Imagine her surprise when she stepped off the plane to discover this:
As shown in this next photograph, some very important additions were made to our family in San Francisco…
namely: our dad’s book collection.
Next stop: Texas, where our dad earned his Doctorate of Theology:
But something even more momentous happened in Dallas…
Our mother gave birth to Don King.
OK, that’s really me, but you have to admit: the resemblance is striking.
Dad’s book collection likewise waxed fruitful and multiplied with scholarly tomes such as:
Every theology book, in and out of print:
The Bible in Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Aramaic, English, and Korean:
Books on natural science and political science:
Oh, and let’s not forget this one:
One time, our sister was perusing Dad’s bookshelf, filled with books she would never be able to read…She asked Mom, “Is Dad sad that he has stupid children?” Mom replied, “Teddy’s not stupid!”
In Texas we went to rodeos, we spoke with Southern accents. We totally assimilated into American culture, so much so that my sisters:
…actually became Native Americans.
But no sooner had we put the finishing touches on our teepee, when we immigrated back to Korea. We returned to a country that was rising like the proverbial phoenix from the ashes. We are all very proud that our family’s legacy was part of the rebirth of Korea. Our grandfather, the Johnny Appleseed of Korea, led the reforestation of 1235 acres of mountainous terrain which had been denuded by the war.
But back then we were just kids. We didn’t know anything about the “Miracle on the Han.” All we knew was that we left the wonders of white bread…
For the agony of fish head.
We lost mac n’ cheese…
and gained sea cucumber:
And what about this delicacy?
Silkwork larvae?! You call that food?!
One glorious day, our sister, aged six, spied a bottle of Coca Cola in an old fashioned glass bottle on a window sill in Grandma’s kitchen. Her little heart leaped to her throat. For a fleeting moment the fact that it had a cork struck her as odd. But so homesick was she for America that although she knew it was wrong, she couldn’t resist. Surreptitiously, she grabbed the bottle, uncorked it, and took a massive swig.
It was soy sauce.
In Korea, another blessed addition was made to our family. Hallelujah! A boy at last!
If it’s not immediately obvious to you what my brother is saying in the photograph, let me interpret it for you…..
“Not three sisters!!!”
Teddy quickly grew up into a smart little boy. Here he is pointing at me and yelling, “Hey! Get back here! You’re not in the photograph, Dummy!” My mom was right. Teddy’s not stupid.
(Actually, I was trying to take over the camera, even back then).
From Korea we moved to Florida:
From Florida to Pennsylvania, and from Pennsylvania to DC, where we settled at last:
We were growing up, but some things never change. See that look on Teddy’s face?
It has nothing at all to do with the fact that he’s wearing a bright white bow tie the size of Montana. Nope. He’s still thinking, “Not three sisters!”
Tomorrow: The conclusion. I swear on a stack of Aramaic, Greek, Latin, Hebrew, English and Korean Bibles!