|My mother's mother, and my older uncle, circa 1955|
|My father's mother, and me, circa 1976|
Both my Korean grandmothers (both raised during the Japanese occupation of Korea) have now since passed, but of the very few photos I have framed in my home, their visages are there, ever-present. When I look at my maternal grandmother, I remember how much she loved the color violet, and what care she took of her roses. She was the urban monarch of the two. She never left her home with a hair out of place or without her rouge painted with pencil precision. She taught me how a pretty lady sits with her knees slightly pitched to the side, and gestures her hands (always delicate movements), but was also a voracious reader, who confided in me once that if she could live again she would set out to be a detective/crime novelist.
My paternal grandmother wasn't as into the powder and lipstick, as she was more the pastoral regent. But, what I do remember is the care she put into her hair. When I was very young, she had it very long, tucked into a bun, and parted down the middle -- an age-old Korean style. Then at some point after she lost her husband, my grandfather, she had it chopped into an adorable bob, one that only works that well on a 4'10" grandma. That rock-steady part, never missed a beat or drifted from its path, even after she hit age 90. She groomed it with a simple comb, and water. This is a woman that years after her family introduced her to the modern convenience of toothpaste, used the extreme country method of dental cleansing: coarse salt.
I watched them, learned from them, and loved them dearly. And they LOVEd me, carried me on their backs, wiped my tears away, and gave me the confidence to be me. And I still feel it, everyday.
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