Posts Tagged ‘sister’

Sisterly love

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

I’m back in Southern California working on cleaning out my mom’s place again. I’m pretty sure we won’t be done until at least the end of the year because there is so much stuff.

We had lunch with my favorite aunt and uncle, and my dad. After lunch my aunt told us stories about my mom — stories I’d never heard before. My mother never told us stories about herself. I always knew this aunt was her closest sister, but hearing about their lives together made me miss my mom, wish I’d made her tell me stories, wish I spoke Korean fluently, and made me realize once again how much my aunt loved her and still misses her.

I looked in vain for a good photo of my mom and my aunt when they were young. Then I decided I’d settle for any photo of the two of them, but couldn’t find one in the stash of photos here. They’re probably in my stash of mom’s photos in San Francisco. But here’s one of my favorites of my own sister. She and I weren’t as close as my aunt and mom when we were younger, but we certainly are now.

My sister and me in Ohio
My sister and me: Elementary school years in Ohio

Seven+ mile party

Monday, May 22nd, 2006

Sunday morning:

me: I thought you said you were going to use the other rollers.
jess: I didn’t say that.
me: Yes, you did, you idiot.
jess: Uh, no, I didn’t.
me: Well, I can’t use these — my hair’s too thick, I can fit enough of these on my head!

jess: you’ve been mean to me all week, you bitch.
me: you’ve only been here one day!
…one hour later…
jay: I can’t believe you and your sister were fighting over hair curlers this morning.

Look, we got three hours of sleep. I’m on pain medication, she’s a mini pharmacy. Drinks, late night, early morning…go figure. We made up half an hour later and for the rest of the day I’d laugh about that stupid fight.

We did our 2nd Bay to Breakers this year. It is seriously just one long, unofficially locally sanctioned costume party / drink-a-thon. This year we came prepared with lots of food, drink, and water. I think our first year we didn’t have enough food or alcohol. I haven’t gotten my pictures up, but Ineke has!

Moving on

Friday, April 28th, 2006

going through more of my mom’s stuff a few days ago, i was reminded of how much she expected of us. of all of us. and how difficult it is to meet someone else’s expectations of you, especially when the two of you are so different and value different things.

i was reminded again about how i knew next to nothing about her. in the car last thursday on our way to visit the grave, i mentioned to my uncle that she never told us stories about her childhood. oh that’s because she was so busy. busy doing what, uncle? well our dad died when she was 10… and somehow the conservation ended after i asked how our grandpa died. it seemed like such an important conversation, how’d i get distracted?

jess and i made a trip to the dump today. jess loved it. we were the only two women out there — everyone else looked like a professional and was male. she loved it so much, she wants to go back tomorrow morning (i think she’s just eager to throw things away :). and what a relief to get rid of some trash. we have so many more dump trips to make. and goodwill trips. and craigslist postings. and god knows what else.

i’ve been watching so much tv. i have it on all the time as background noise, when i’m eating, while i knit, hanging out with jess. never really idling in front of the tv; always doing something. little fingers busy, busy. the other night on king of the hill some kid was wearing a “praying is not a crime” shirt, which at first i took to be a nod to the EFF. though doing a search on “is not a crime” seems to indicate that anything and everything can be tied to this phrase so who knows.

so i’ve almost completed my 2nd week of leave. i haven’t gotten as much done on the house as i thought i would. and i haven’t started studying my korean again, but i started writing again and going to the gym regularly again. two out of three isn’t bad, and i still have over 2 weeks to go…

It’s been so long…

Tuesday, March 21st, 2006

I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to come back here. I haven’t blogged since I came back to Mountain View. The 49th day picnic was small with just my sister and I and my uncle and aunt. My dad was there, too, though we weren’t sure he’d make it. I think the 49th day is supposed to be end of the period of intense grieving. Now your altar to the dead one gets smaller. You buy fewer flowers, burn less candles, put her photo in a smaller frame. I don’t know yet if my sister is doing any of these things.

I know my grief has mellowed. I still think about her a lot. I still have my moments of quiet and reflection where I break down and sob, but just to myself. I don’t let anyone else see that; it’s a very private moment I’m having. I still have her photo. Still burn a flame.

Mom working in the office, 1980's
Mom working hard in my dad’s office, 1980s.

My dad and I came across this photo early on. He commented on how hard she always worked. She only ever thought of us.

Visiting the car

Saturday, March 4th, 2006

Seeing my mom’s car was probably the worst thing we’ve done since she died. The traffic investigator warned me several times not to go see it, but everyone warned us about everything and none of it turned out as bad as I thought it would so I didn’t give his warnings much credence. The Tow and Mo people are disorganized as hell though. First they sent me to the wrong facility, then they told me the car wasn’t released from evidence even though two days before they’d told me the car had been released for a long time, when was I going to pick it up? We meant to go see it Tuesday, but I had called and they needed the title and it took us a couple of days to find it.

The car was so smashed up and damaged. Much more than I’d imagined it to be. I thought I was pretty prepared for it after having see the news coverage video of the car after the wreck, but it’d been a long time since I’d seen it, and I had remembered a different image of the car than the one I saw at the tow place.

And there was so much stuff in the car. The officer said there wasn’t anything in it, but he was wrong. There were clothes, her other shoe (which I’d been wondering about when I’d taken her clothes out), makeup, toothbrush, coinpurse. Her glasses. Covered in dried blood. Those were the hardest to see. I thought we had the glasses she was wearing, but those were glasses that must’ve been on her person. These were the glasses she was wearing when she died and they managed not to get broken, but were completely covered in blood.

And there was blood splashed onto the seats and sides of the car, there was blood pooled in the passenger seat, there was blood in the front and back. I just imagined her in the car during the accident. The physical body is just a delicate, fragile thing when compared to a hunk of metal folded in on itself. How do you protect your flesh against crushed metal? Broken glass everywhere. How did her shoe get into the back seat? Did it fly off her foot as the car was rolling over, or did it fall out of the car and they threw it into the backseat as they cleaned up? The back seat, where they threw in the other chunks of car as they must’ve cleaned up the street.

I’d just been talking about how it felt like it was getting too easy. The car, the car ruined it for me. It was a dose of reality for both of us. Sometimes I think Jess is all I have left. My dad’s just as remote as always. And I love him, but he’s distant. Jess is all I have.

Mom in San Diego, CA. 1970

me & jess, ohio.

I’m an ass

Thursday, January 26th, 2006

I’m such an ass. I said something really, really nasty to my sister out of anger. We got into a fight and she was being so good and not saying anything too terrible, calling me “kettle” (as in the kettle calling the pot).

She’s been keeping it together so well that sometimes I forget this is just as hard on her as it is on me. And my patience is thin and I’m exhausted, and she is, too, and if she’s tense it’s because of that, and I’m such an ass cause she’s grieving just as much as I am and I was completely mean and not understanding when she was having a hard time. I’m sorry, honey. I feel so awful.

She consoles herself with the same thought I do — that my mother’s at peace, that the sad things that troubled her no longer do. Death isn’t hard on the dead, it’s only hard on the living who’re left behind. And I know this and I know I want her back for selfish reasons, but I still want her back.

I’ve been trying to find a picture of me and my mom I’ll want to put in her casket and I’ve been meaning to make a card (Jess’s idea), too, but I feel overwhelmed. I know the idea of putting things in someone’s coffin seems silly — what’s a dead body going to do with those things? But I can’t stop myself. It’s just another way to keep myself busy remembering her.


Wednesday, January 25th, 2006

When Jess and I were finally alone last night, we went into mad cleaning mode. And I went to bed late, but got up early and went back into mad cleaning mode. It’s gratifying to have something mindless to do that results in immediate visual impact. I washed a giant sliding glass door inside and out and it looks spectacular.

We went back to see my mom today. This time we got to see her whole entire face and head. The mortician worked on her for over five hours — we even delayed the visit by half an hour and it was almost another half hour before we got to her after arriving at the funeral home. He spent that time placing many sutures to pull the skin back together, carefully stuffing cotton in places to make her face look normal, washing her hair, embalming her. She doesn’t quite look like herself, but it was a relief to see all of her head. She has a big jagged cut down the right side of her forehead from the scalp down to her eye. The left side of her forehead and cheek were abraded — sort of like road rash. Her right eye doesn’t look quite right — the skin under the eye is puckered and red — probably from broken bones in her head and face — and had signs of minor trauma. Daddy said he didn’t feel any other broken bones anywhere else though and repeated that death was probably immediate. Her hair was beautiful and dark and still wet from the washing. They put this stuff in her scalp to retain moisture that looks like small, clear rocks and that was weird to see in her hair, but it was still pretty. Her skin was so soft and she wasn’t as cold and rigid as she was yesterday — though today, without the crinkly plastic, it was easier to touch her arms and feet and hold her in this way through the sheet and blanket.

She had three pieces of cotton on her face that the mortician said we could remove if we wanted to. And these had cream underneath them (as he said they would — he was very thorough in describing what we’d see and what he’d done to her). When my dad lifted the first piece, I cringed, feeling uncomfortable, but later on, I was lifting them, too, and examining the damage underneath them. It’s impressive how easy it is to get used to something. The first look is always the freshest, the most visceral, and usually the hardest. But it doesn’t take long standing in the room to just get comfortable with it. The cotton for example, or the blood my sister wiped off her face. The first time is the hardest, the most shocking, then subsequent times it doesn’t seem like such a big deal.

We got her clothes, too — the ones she was wearing when she died. J.C. brought out one single shoe that he wiped the blood off of — the only thing he thought fit to look at, but after we asked, he brought us a bag of her soiled (everything else) things with strict warnings about biologically hazardous waste, pathogens, etc.

I’m exhausted. A good friend of my sister’s arrived early today, then Frank arrived mid-afternoon. My aunt and uncle are sleeping downstairs. I have my mother’s bed all to myself. We picked out a bible verse to put on her memorial cards. I still miss her like crazy.

Family at Christmas

Sunday, January 2nd, 2005

Spending time with family this holiday I was wondering what it was like to grow up in one culture, one country with certain expectations of your family, and then to be transplanted as an adult to another country. You’ve been here for multiple decades, but do those expectations of your family still exist?

Christmas was nice, but busy. I met my sister’s boyfriend’s mother and brother. I saw my son and spent Christmas morning with his family (and realized again as I always do when I get to spend time with them that I miss seeing them terribly). The mothers are devout non-Catholic Christian. At dinner with Doug’s mom and my mom sitting across from each other I hear Doug’s mom ask, So Sharon, when did you come to Christ? and I almost snorted water out of my nose. I’ve been telling all my friends because it’s such an incredulous question — to me anyway. And to most people I know. It’s a completely meaningless and non-sensical question if you yourself are not a devout Christian. But the two of them were dead serious about it.

It was nice to see my mother socializing with someone. Patty kept saying what a wonderful job she did raising us girls and all I could think was how superficial most relationships are. How when you first meet people all you really see is someone’s ability to be social and polite. Meeting the three of us — my mother, my sister and me, you’d have no idea the ways we hurt each other, the ways we’re cruel and disappoint. But I suppose that’s why familial relationships are so complex and painful — you don’t get to know most people that intimately, you don’t have to spend that much time with most people. But when you do, it’s equal parts heartache and unconditional love that make it worthwhile.

The crap that sis reads

Wednesday, April 28th, 2004

My sister and I don’t communicate extensively via email so our notes to each other are short and informative — like about flight times and the status of our mother and / or father. Every now and again, one of us sends the other a more personal note through email — she sent me the cutest email today. It was about this blog — she doesn’t read it daily, but checks up on it every now and again. And she said that when she read it she felt like she was just reading some writer’s blog, and not her sister’s blog. It was the sweetest damned thing. And she said reading it made her squirt water out her nose (actually, she just spit it out her mouth, but it makes so much a better image to think of water spraying out her nose)