We went to see her father a day late. He worked for Carmelites Sisters’ Convent and lived at the house next to it. Famous Andong salted mackerel and boiled octopus were waiting for us. In Korea, they heat the floor of the room, sit and sleep on the floor. He borrowed a table and chairs from the neighbor and set the table. He also placed a long wooden plank over the bump at the entrance and made a wheelchair ramp. It was his way of welcoming his new son-in-law.
Upon our return to Seoul after the visit, she started to sort things out to leave Korea. She gave her old car to an organization for the disabled. The car provided the convenient transportation for my two visits. We took father to Yeon Hee Dong, where he met my mother, a woman in red sweater, during the Korean War in this car. There was a monument to show how the battle was fought. His name was on it. We took pictures in front of it. Then, we went to Byeok Je Korean BBQ, our old restaurant, and ate lunch.
I returned to America with my new wife in early May.
She woke up early every morning, and fixed my breakfast and packed my lunch. I used to take frozen dinner for lunch. Sometimes, I took leftovers from the night before, made sandwiches, and when I had nothing, I bought lunch from the café next to the office.
She served freshly cooked rice and steaming soup. I was used to a piece of pastry and coffee for breakfast. I pretended to take a few bites of the breakfast she prepared. Katherine enjoyed the luxury of taking home made lunch to school for approximately 6 weeks until she graduated in June.
My wife, Grace, had an international license and she started to drive around once she used to the neighborhood. She was easy going and seemed to adjust to the new environment well. She enrolled in Los Angeles Valley College and took English class. Next year, she received an award for academic excellence in ESL class.
Starting with the marriage in Korea, I ended up marrying her three times. We went to Van Nuys city hall and got married for the 2nd time. My sister-in-law, Michelle, and Katherine were the witnesses. I needed a marriage certificate for the insurance and immigration. The 3rd marriage was few years later when we attended the Catholic church. When I got baptized, we went thru the sacrament of matrimony.
Brian finished UCLA and came home. Four of us, I, Grace, Brian, and Katherine, lived under the same roof. I failed to teach Korean to my kids. Grace did not speak English well. Even though Grace wanted to have a candid conversation with them, they could not carry any long meaningful conversations.
A family should live together. Brian and Katherine who lived with us for a short while are closer to Grace. Grace also tries to do more for them.
I spent my week-ends with Grace. We went to movies and shopping together. She packed lunch and we went to the beaches. I was her only friend.
In fall, she said she did not feel well. Her head, shoulder, and back hurt. I took her to the doctors. They ran some tests and could not find anything wrong. Her doctor finally approached me and asked if she was under undue stress. I said there was no stress. Few years later, I finally realized her doctor was correct. Grace was under a lot of stress. The new environment was not easy for her. There was language and cultural barriers. Even though I and the rest of the family were Koreans, we left Korea long time ago and my kids did not know Korea. We were no longer Koreans. We, Korean-Americans, were definitely different from people she used to know. She could not understand some of the things we said and did.
We tried to have a baby for short period of time. She took folic acid and we checked her ovulation period. It did not happen. Artificial insemination was expensive and the insurance did not cover it. If I had money, I would have tried it. Well, we had no idea we would get two kids, my brother-in-law’s, in next few years.
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