We have all known 할머니 in many different contexts. And we’ve been blessed by her life.
I grew up hearing stories and learning about the sacrifices that my 할머니 and 할아버지 made as a minister to others, planted and literally built the church, established an orphanage. 할머니 extended love and care to the most vulnerable and disenfranchised in society throughout her life. Whether she was in Korea, Arizona, Texas, or California, 할머니 was devoted to God, to the church and to our family.
For me, my earliest memories of 할머니 are from my summer visits to California. When we arrived after the flight, 할머니 would welcome us with most family and my cousins, even 언니 and Jonathan and with beaming smiles, hugs and love. While we were out of our plane, 할머니 could always be seen in the kitchen or with yellow laundry basket at the foot of the stairs, have our presents, or always keeping an eye on us. Even with her ailments and had a difficulty walking, she always served everyone with the smile on her face. And when she wasn’t working or resting, I remember her reading or studying the Bible at the dining table, or praying, or watching the occasional Korean drama. She truly embodied Jesus’ love, gentleness and humility in everything she did. Whenever I spoke with 할머니 on the phone or visited her in California or when she came to Boston, her first words to me were always, “I Love You!”. Even if we couldn’t fully communicate, there was nothing but deep love, the warmest hugs and the example of faith. She was an loving testimonials of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. I remember visiting 할머니 one afternoon during her hospital stay. She was in pain, and without Korean speakers to communicate with. Yet throughout everything, she met life’s challenges with gladness in her heart. The doctors and nurses commented that 할머니 is kind, cheerful and grateful in nature, something that they rarely saw in their patients, and that it was joy to be around her. Some even said, “She must be Christian!” Despite her circumstances, the light of Jesus was always present in her and touched everyone who knew her. The last few times that I visited her in California, 할머니 was living in an apartment. Despite her numerous health problems and difficulty with mobility, she made the effort to come downstairs and welcomed us with the warm hug. The first thing she did was to inquire us about our health and tell us, “I Love You!”
She even made 고구마 for my brother Noah and I when she could barely move. As we left, I remember feeling awed at her strength of character. The strength of her love, her spirit and her actions have been Blessings to us all. And I thank God for the privilege of calling her, my 할머니, and for the legacy of faith that she left in so many hearts, including mine.
할머니, we all love, and cherish and miss you. But we are glad that you have gone ahead to our true home, with our Aba Father who loves you infinitely, more than we ever could. Although we mourn, we are comforted knowing that there are no more tears, no more pain, no more sorrow, and that every tear will be wiped away. You will be at peace, experiencing the joy of His presence, and one day, we will meet again.
할머니, I won’t say goodbye because I will see you again. But I will close by saying what you always said and shown, “I Love You!”