My mother is Ki Suk Hollingshead. She was raised in Pusan, South Korea, where her entire family had resided for generations. At the age of 18, she left Pusan and moved to the U.S. to start her new life with my dad.
Dad says that he fell in love with my mom the moment he laid eyes on her. He spoke almost no Korean and she spoke absolutely zero English. Despite cultural and religious differences, my parents made it work. They decided to marry in the U.S.
Imagine being 18 years old and moving half-way across the world to marry a man you love. You don’t speak the language. You don’t understand the customs, routines or official procedures. Clothes, food, TV shows, stores, road signs and even body language are completely foreign. As if that is not enough of a culture shock, you are also leaving your entire family and moving in with a new family you have never met before and cannot understand.
My mother’s courage and perseverance truly amaze me. Day after day, I watched her stand in the face of ignorance, discrimination and down-right racism. She always handled herself with grace and somehow compassionately towards those who treated her poorly. We take on mundane tasks like doctor’s visits, PTA meetings and banking transactions with ease but these were challenges for my mom. Still, she managed to hold down a full-time job and do what all great moms do: take care of everyone.
When people ask me what I learned from mom, the answer is always the same. She taught me to be brave, determined, graceful, forgiving, compassionate, a hard worker, humble and infinitely patient. In today’s world, it seems like people are so quick to throw in the towel on jobs, relationships and family.
I’m so grateful to have had an example of someone like my mom who never gives up on anything or anyone. She is a blessing, truly, a wonderful blessing.
Happy Mother’s Day!