If you hadn’t figured it out yet, the stressful thing I was keeping secret last week was that we were quickly planning a trip to L.A. after Joe’s grandfather passed away and we learned that the funeral was planned for this Monday. Flying across the country and staying for four days with two tiny kids is never easy – add in major food allergies and preparing backup meals for one of them throws another kink in the wire. But we did it, and the whole thing went fairly smoothly. I feel like I made one major mistake during the trip, and I’ll get to that in a bit, but overall it was good to see Joe’s extended family – some of them for the first time, others not since our wedding.
I’ll start from the beginning, but first I want to openly thank our neighbors across the street, who did a great job watching the house and the cats (I think M reads here sometimes). I also want to thank Joe’s mom (who I think doesn’t read here, and if she does, I don’t want to know about it please.) All the same, I’ve said this to her face, but I should say it to the world as well since I have complained about her once or twice here. I was nervous about having her by my side so much during the trip. She flew with us both going out and coming home, and I didn’t know what to expect. Let me tell you – she was perfect. She gave me the space that I needed to take care of my kids my way, but she stepped up at the perfect moments to take Julie’s hand through security, to hold the baby when Julie needed some of my attention, she helped lug all the extra baggage through the airport. We even made some pleasant conversation, more and more towards the end of the trip. Best of all, it was amazing to watch her with my girls. She is a wonderful grandmother, and they love her. There is nothing more I could ask for in life than more love for my girls, and she has it.
Okay, the mistake thing – it involved a huge fashion faux pas. I want to tell the whole story, but it is long and complicated and would take pages for me to tell it in the detail required. Some of it has to do with cultural differences, but it boils down to this – my girls and I were the only people at the entire funeral wearing any color other than black and white. Except Joe and his brother, who had blue in their ties, and I know that this upset Joe’s uncle deeply. I really thought I was in the realm of appropriate funeral attire when I put on the outfit I put on that day – I’m used to modern American funerals where people wear colors and celebrate the life of the deceased. Especially when they’re 94 years old and lived full lives. Well, that’s not how it is at traditional Korean funerals. I didn’t know that, and if I could take back that decision and wear something appropriate, I would pay dearly to do so. This sounds like a little thing to the casual reader, but it wasn’t. Nobody said anything directly to me about it, but I know I hurt some feelings. To the elders in the family, it looked like I was disrespecting them and their father. I see that now, and I wish there were some way I could take back that pain and embarrassment I caused. There’s not, and I’m going to have to let it go, but I’m having a hard time with it. All I can say now is I’m really sorry, and I hope some of you younger Kangs are reading this and can pass the sentiment along to the older ones in an appropriate manner.
Whew. That’s out there. Now for the rest of the trip. It was great to see so many of my daughters’ relatives in one place. Joe’s brother came back from Seoul, Joe’s cousin Jin came back from New York, his cousin Chris came from Maryland, cousin Lindsey lives in L.A. with her parents, all the uncles and aunts were there, and another cousin from I’m-not-sure-where. It was a big group, and they all doted on Julie and Sophie. Sophie was happy being passed around among all the aunts and uncles, and Julie loved playing with the cousins – and Uncle Dave especially. On the last morning when we said goodbye after breakfast at the IHOP, tears came to my eyes thinking about how lucky we were to get to share our girls with their family, how lucky I am to get to be part of their family, to be accepted even though I am a big, loud, white girl who wears the wrong thing. I can’t wait to see them all again and I hope that the talk about a family reunion in the next few years pans out to reality. At the very least, I hope Lindsey ends up marrying the nice guy she’s dating now and we all get to come back out for the wedding in a year or so.
There were a lot of other things I wanted to talk about -
- having to pack and plan meals for the food-allergic child – she ate a lot of lunch meat is all I have to say, I guess
- the surprising number of stains on my girls’ clothing and how quickly they added up. It’s a good thing I packed twice as many clothes as I thought I needed, a good thing I discovered Oxyclean a couple months ago. The wash is done and I think all the stains came out.
- The lack of knitting I did on the trip – I packed several things in case I finished and needed more, but I ended up having surprisingly little hands-free time, and that’s okay – it was worth it.
- The amazing food we ate in korea town. Three different meals at three different restaurants. Two included Dolso Bibimbahp, my favorite. I also got to eat all the sushi I could handle in one sitting and some really good udon noodles. Joe and I also managed to stop at an In-and-Out burger for the first time. YUM!
- We got to see some Internet friends while we were there – unfortunately, not all of the people we “know” in L.A., but it was good to meet Dan, Robin and their boys, and Dan made us a yummy breakfast to boot.
- The crazy, giant mini-van we rented – a Chevy Uplander. It was a nice ride – huge inside, and we needed the space because we were carrying up to 7 people at a time, but I felt so guilty guzzling all that gas. Joe complained every time he had to park it.
There are so many other things, but I’m running out of time, so I’ll leave you with a pretty picture.