3. everyday spirituality; praying heart,  3.a. Resting & Growing

A Tribute to Mrs. Lee

As the sun set on the eve of Ash Wednesday, a somber call reached me from my family in South Korea, delivering the news of my grandmother, Mrs. Lee’s passing. Though anticipated, the weight of her absence was profound.

The bereavement leave policy granted me some time off starting from Ash Wednesday, yet the inability to travel to Korea compounded the sorrow. Restricted travel regulations tethered me, a bittersweet reminder of this country’s current state of immigration policy. Despite this, I found solace in memories of our last summer together, despite that it was a journey punctuated, again, by the constraints of immigration protocols.

In the midst of my swirling emotions, I found solace in crafting a tribute to my grandma, Mrs. Lee.

Reflecting on her life, I grappled with the void left by her departure and mourned the missed opportunities to share more moments with her and support my family in Korea during this trying time.

Born in 1929, Mrs. Lee lived to the age of 95, a testament to her resilience and spirit. Despite her limited formal education, she possessed an innate intelligence and entrepreneurial drive. In the tumultuous years of Japanese Annexation and the Korean War, she found strength in adversity, establishing a small but sustainable clothing business in Seoul.

Her home became a sanctuary for many, offering refuge to young women seeking employment during challenging times. Mrs. Lee’s unwavering principles and blunt honesty may have seemed harsh at times, but they underscored her unwavering integrity and strength of character.

Independence defined Mrs. Lee’s life. She navigated widowhood without financial reliance on her children or late husband, a testament to her resilience and strength. In her leisure, she found joy in simple pleasures, like playing Godori (a Korean card game), until the pandemic intervened.

Reflecting on her passion for the game, I realized the depth of her wisdom, transcending traditional measures of education. Her mastery of Godori underscored her intellect and complexity, challenging my preconceptions and bias about the game as “low-class” and “uneducated.”

As I bid farewell to Mrs. Lee, in this season of Lent, I cherish the lessons she imparted and the legacy of strength, love, and wisdom she leaves behind. In her absence, I find comfort in memories of her indomitable spirit, a guiding light through life’s highs and lows.