Many years ago, in a land far away, a boy was born in a simple farming village. He was raised very simply, for this was a very poor village. At that time, this land was occupied by people from another land, called Japan. There was very little to eat as he grew, so he was undernourished and weak. Since he was not physically fit to work in the fields and be a farmer, it was decided that he would study in the seminary.  Years later he attended the seminary, even under threats of death from the Japanese. True to their word, they slaughtered many of his friends in the seminary. After witnessing the deaths of several friends, he, his wife, and his father decided to escape and did so; however, in the immediacy of it all, they were forced to leave his mother and younger siblings behind. Somehow, they crossed the border and escaped to South Korea with only the clothes on their backs.

This boy, now a young man, settled down in South Korea and raised three children with his wife. He became the pastor of a small village in South Korea. They managed to eke out a living by farming and pastoring. Although money was scarce, every single penny was scrimped and saved so their children would be educated. Several years later, his oldest son got married to a lovely lady and they had their first child, a little girl.

I was so blessed, so very blessed. My grandfather was born in poverty and barely escaped a war. He witnessed the deaths of several friends and barely escaped his own. His leaving his mother and siblings behind left an indelible scar. But I only knew of his love and kindness.  Years later, when he moved to the States with my grandmother, they moved to a place about 15 minutes away from our home. But I was so terrible about visiting them; I had forgotten their love and care, and considered only how inconvenient or boring it was for me to visit them. When I did visit, my grandparents were so glad; they’d show me the small garden they grew in their backyard and pack tomatoes, peppers, and lettuce for me to take back home.  Although they had 3 children and 7 grandchildren, they have never forgotten a single birthday. Every year, his children and grandchildren have received an envelope with some money and a small written birthday blessing.My grandfather is a really 훌룡하신 분.

Now that cancer has spread through my grandfather’s body, all I can do is watch helplessly and hold his hand as he sleeps. This is a cruel disease; it doesn’t rob you of your hunger but it takes away the ability to take food in. As a result, my once-healthy grandfather is now a frail man of skin and bones. I wish I could give him a gift – I wish he could see me get married, something he’d always told me he wanted to see before he passed. But I’m afraid I won’t be able to give him this gift in time. 죄송해요, 할아버지…