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Don’s Parents and Me

August 15, 2012

I wrote how my father accepted Don and loved him despite his initial misgivings, which were largely because he was a non-Korean, White American. I also wrote how Don was worried about his parents’ acceptance of me–if they would fully accept me–because I was a Korean American.

Well, I will let Don tell you about my relationship with his parents.

For me, it was a real revelation how quickly, naturally, and completely my parents accepted their new daughter-in-law during that visit. Right now I am reading a card my mother sent Dai Sil a long time ago. She wrote to Dai Sil: “I don’t like that in-law part of the card, because you are like a daughter to us. If we really had one, I would like her to be just like you, so caring and loving.”

There was also a letter to me: “That dear little Dai Sil wrote such nice letters to us . . . . Your letters sound so happy and we are so happy for you. You waited so long that we knew it would be someone extra special when you did make a choice. She seemed to fit right in as one of us. We hope this feeling is mutual.”

Don’s parents not only welcomed me into their family but they were worried if I might accept them, in a way neither of us thought about. Don writes about that.

After Dai Sil and I returned to Washington, my mother sent a letter expressing her fervent hope “that we country hicks didn’t ruin your chances.” It was clear that she didn’t reject a woman from the Far East as a newcomer to the family. Indeed, to her “eastern” meant the East Coast of the U.S., and she feared that a highly educated woman like Dai Sil from that “sophisticated” milieu might reject them. What a curious world.

Many years later, after the catastrophic fire that destroyed our home, we were sitting in our temporary rented space when Dai Sil brought out that letter. I hadn’t seen or even thought about it in a very long time. I was amazed that it had somehow survived the fire. Dai Sil explained that it was among a pile of papers in a trunk we had stashed in the basement, which escaped the flames. She read part of the letter out loud to me:

“I wish you were closer,” wrote my mother, “so we could have more time together and get better acquainted with Dai Sil. I just wonder what impression she got of us hillbillies. I hope we didn’t spoil your chances. We are plain old farmers, but we have love in our hearts.”

Life is full of surprises. You never really know about life, especially about human relationships.

Early Days Together

All through their lives, Don’s parents and I could not have gotten along better.  I was especially close to Don’s father. He could not have loved me more, had I been his own daughter.

Don’s memoir, Iowa Sky, is full of stories of his life with me, inviting you into the world of human relationships between an unlikely couple, an Iowa farm boy and a woman born in North Korea. The book will be out in January, 2013.

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