Memories of Grandpa – Becoming Softer


What’s reminiscence without complementary grandpa?

My paternal grandfather was a man of education. He spent the entire life on education. He was a principal to an elementary school in Namwon. Most of the people that are in and around the area grew up having him as the principal. I recall so many people coming over to pay their respects during his funeral.

It was a very emotional one for me. He had just one wish and that was to hold a great grandson. Trust me, if I could turn back time, I wish I could grant him that one last wish. But alas, he died without having held JJ. I used to think badly of that. You see, Anna is my older child but having grown up in Confucius teachings and the older culture, he practically ignored my daughter when we had visited him several years ago.

I used to hold that against him… but now, I just … let it go. He has known that culture for all his life and have realized that expecting him to love my daughter just as much as he would my son was more than he could. Perhaps, it was being a principal but I remember him being very strict and … not very fun to be around. My (paternal) grandmother was so much kinder, though I barely remember her now… She passed away when I was only about 20. Having bored 10 children was more than she could handle. The biggest thing I remember was that she would let me go out to play when grandpa told us not to go outside.

Namwon was a countryside back then… no covered roads to home… just dirt. So the beginning decades for me weren’t very fond memories of him. But as conversations come back again and again to it, jung (?, the essence of emotional bonds between people that is formed over time and/or circumstances) is a very strong and scary stuff.

Since adulthood, I have had the opportunity to visit him again and again. Once he came to visit us in the States. We drove him around even to Canada to sightsee. Over the years, I noticed him getting… softer. It was rather subtle but it was there. He was less strict and laughed more (at least to what I remember).

I’d like to believe that he died peacefully having made peace with what he could and the people that he could. Seeing all those people coming to pay respects reminded me that he did something right. But it was definitely a gentler and softer grandfather that I remember now…  I am so glad that is how I remember him.  See you soon grandpa…  Hope you can see JJ from up there…

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