June 4, 2015

TBT - My Mom and Her Niece. Korea. Year unknown. Maybe mid 1950s.


I remember when my mom showed me this picture when I was a child. It was so weird to see my mom around the same age as me - as a little girl. When we are young, it's hard to imagine that our parents were once children too. And forget about imagining them as teenagers! 

That's my mom on the left. And on the right is her niece {in my previous stories I had mentioned that my grandmother had my mother very late and my mom's oldest brother was old enough to be my mom's dad. He had a daughter around the same time my mom was born. That is her.). 

My mom said she was sick here. She has a sore throat and that's why she had a handkerchief around her neck to keep it warm. I feel like that is such an old wives tale of treating sore throats. Or maybe not.

Despite her being sick she is seen playing rock, paper, scissors with her niece. When my mom told me this story she laughed because she said she was so bad at playing that game. She always lost. Years later, when I was in college, my friends I would play rock, paper, scissors to see who would be the one to do grunt work like wash the dishes or run to the nearest market to pick up junk food. I always lost. And I always thought I inherited being fantastically horrible at rock, paper, scissors from my mother. 

There are so many things I love about this picture. I love the hanbok {traditional dress} they are wearing, which was still a norm to wear as every day dress back then. The little stains she has, probably from being a mischievous tomboy. And the fur lined vest tells me that it was probably winter when this picture was taken. But I wonder about this place. I wish I could see it in real life. The shadows and the tables and the checkered floors all fascinate me. Where was this?

I also love the handkerchief loosely tied around her neck and her butterfly hair clip. Despite her being sick with a cold she has a smile. Their hands are blurry from calling out rock, paper, scissors. I bet they were squealing in anticipation at what they would both put out. And I wonder what move my chose. I bet it was paper. Paper always loses. I always put out paper. I didn't even realize it until someone told me that was the reason I always lost because everyone knew that I always put out paper. 

I see this little girl and I see my mother now. And I think back on her life. It's amazing but also scary to think that this happy little girl, from when she would turn 40, would battle a mental disease that would hamper her life. You sometimes wonder the what ifs. What if she got to live her differently. What if we could've provided her a different environment that fostered a more healthy mindset for her. When I look back the story of my mom, it almost all the time ends with lots of questions, what ifs, a heart full of apologies and regrets. 

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