April 15, 2010

in memory of

Last summer: My sis, mom and newborn Rochelle

Today was a hard day. Had to say a final goodbye to my K-Mom. Like my bro Rainier said, the sermon was short & sweet, just like mom. Very true. His eulogy was so eloquent and moved me to tears. I will try to get the eulogy in print soon and will share with you all here (if I get the bro's approval).

I think I should clarify why I call my mom my mom, even though we're not blood related. I heard this story not from my dad but from one of my parent's closest friends. Someone who was there and while telling my sister and I this story, smiled from memory.. Here goes..

Back in the 60's, my father came to Montreal while Expo '67 was happening (and after the korean war and a few years in South America). He fell in love with the cosmopolitan city and it's joie de vivre (secretly, I think my dad fell in love with the abundance of incredible food here!). Anyways, my dad came here and settled, totally broke but able to make things happen. Being the incredibly social and outgoing person he was (and always able to make a party happen!) my dad met up with another guy (who I'll call Mr K) who came to Montreal to study from Korea. At the time, he lived in a small apartment in chinatown. They met but my dad forgot to get his number when they parted.

Mr Ch told my sister and I that my dad knew of a woman who was also in Montreal studying here (from Korea via Germany). He thought that this lady and Mr K would be a great match! So my dad being my dad told Mr Ch that he was going to go door to door and find Mr K in chinatown and if he does, he will host a party (New Year's? Xmas? I forget this part) and invite the two of them. Well, my dad DID find Mr K and he did make that party happen. And the rest is history.
My baptism in the 70's. Weren't both my moms totally mod??
The lady in turquoise is my god-mother and Mr Mustache is my god-father.

One of many many picnics together. Yep, that's me picking my bum. 

My sis, 'grandma' and me. 

More outings! That mac was my favourite.. 

My sis, Ray, Rai and Marty. Yep, me with no teeth.

My parents and the K's both got married here and attended each other's weddings. Growing up, I have never known Mr & Mrs K not to be in my life. They had 3 sons and my parents had myself and my sister. My 'grandmother' who took care of us was not really my grandmother but theirs. But she never made us feel like we were outsiders. She gave us crap as much as she did to her grandsons. haha! And their family became our family. We lived just a few doors down from each other and were always in and out of each other's homes. There was no limit as to how many times and where or when we could come over.

They took care of my sister and I and I know my parents did the same for my brothers. Even when we both eventually moved away from each other (in different cities), we were still close. We'd go over to their house and have hot dog lunches, they'd come over our house and it was hamburger lunches. Always.

My K mom and dad never had issues in parenting my sister and I. They just did. We were naughty? They'd reprimand us. We didn't know what to study? They'd tell us what they thought about our choices. Summer vacation? They'd make us do 'homework' just like they gave their sons. haha! Man, I so remember that.
A family get-together 3 years ago. Just missing some cousins here..

My K-dad, uncles aunt and my mom, last year.

The next generation..

What brought the families together most though was my K-Mom. Even though we'd all grown up, moved away from each other.. she made sure to keep everyone in touch somehow. Especially with her. Every year for as long as I can remember, my K-Mom hosted the Boxing Day get together. Every December 26, she would host a family get together where we could all chill out, laugh and eat til we rolled out the door (eventually). She made enough food to feed an entire nation!

Two years ago, I couldn't make it as I was the sickest I'd ever been. I so regret it now as it would have been my last 26th with her. I knew she was disappointed I didn't go because she called me and spoke with Mr C telling him it didn't matter if I infected everyone else with the hacking cough and fever I had. Everyone was family! That was her...

She was a giver in a true sense. Giving to family, to friends and total strangers. She was a surgical nurse and had a tough nature but soft heart. She was there for us when my dad passed away when I was 19 and was there for us afterwards. To the very end, she kept telling the rest of us what to do and worrying about us as well. The last time I saw her in hospital, she told me to stay strong, to care for my little family and not worry about her. To also see to it my mom was ok (who was in another hospital at the same time).

I'm so sad now because without her, the 'hub' is gone. Without her, I have a feeling we will all drift apart without coming together anymore.

She and K-dad shaped my life as my own parents had. I will heed her last words to me and be strong, keep living and try to give as much as she did.

To you mom, I love you and thank you with all my heart for caring for us.
And to all my friends, family and newly found friends online, Thank You all so very much for the support you've shown me and all your kind and wise words. I can't tell you how much it meant to me and can't thank you enough!

**We have donated in honour and memory of My K-Mom to the Canadian Cancer Society. Should you wish to make a difference, please don't hesitate to support the Cancer Society where you live!


lesley [smidgebox] said...

that is such a sweet and touching story, thank you for sharing so much with us! i am so sorry for your loss, and am sending hugs from afar.

kribss said...

what a lovely tribute + fantastic story of how your family came to be! i hope you all will be able to get together at least once a year in her honor, its seems thats what she would want and love for you all to do!
hugs and peace to you my friend!

joyce said...

That was an amazing post Chantal. The pictures made me laugh out loud. The funny thing is, how everyone looks in the pictures is how I REMEMBER everyone looking. I remember all of us looking like that!

I'll keep Mrs Ko and all of her family in my prayers. It's so hard to lose a parent.

Michelle said...

What a touching and honest post. Your recounting of her story is really what life and family is all about regardless of blood relation. I totally understand losing a "hub" of the family. It can give you unnerving and doubtful feelings but it can also sometimes bring family members even closer. Time will tell and I hope for you at least some peace.

Big hugs to you my dear.

K0 said...

Dearest sis, I am sure our mother's spirit is smiling at your blog at this very minute. Thank you so much for doing this. It is incredibly tragic that such a selfless, giving woman could be forced to leave before she was ready to. I will certainly send you a copy of the church eulogy. Love you. Rainier

Jules @ Lovely Las Vegas said...

I am so sorry for your loss... from what I can tell from your story telling, your k mum's spirit it integrated into your life, so even though she is no longer physicially there to bring everyone together, her spirit will still be a force in your lives, very powerful and influencial.

KLT said...

Such a sweet and heartfelt memoir. So sorry for your loss... truly.