Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Speaking of mothers.............a must read
How well do you really know your own mother? Do you really see her? Really know her? As adults, are we all guilty of seeing our mother in a one-dimensional form, one that begins in need when we are children? Are we destined to always see our mothers through our own hopes and dreams? When a devoted mother leaves her remote, rural village to visit her adult children and goes missing in a crowded subway station in Seoul, a large Korean family wrestles with loss, guilt, blame, and love as they each question their emotional role in their mother's disappearance. How could this happen? And why can't she make her way back to them? Please Look After Mom by Korean author Shin Kyung-Sook is a most heartbreaking look at family dynamics, cultural expectations, and grief as each family member struggles to understand the mother they thought they knew, and the one they never took time to know.
"You stop arguing with Hyong-chol, because you realize that you're pushing him to take care of everything, as you always do. Leaving Father at Hyong-chol's house, you all head home. If you don't leave then, you will continue to argue. You've been doing that for the past week. You'd meet to discuss how to find Mom, and one of you would unexpectedly dig up the different ways someone else had wronged her in the past. The things that had been suppressed, that had been carefully avoided moment by moment, became bloated, and finally you all yelled and smoked and banged out the door in rage.
When you first heard Mom had gone missing, you angrily asked why nobody from your large family went to pick her and Father up at Seoul Station.
"And where were you?"
Me? You clammed up. You didn't find out about Mom's disappearance until she'd been gone four days. You all blamed each other for Mom's going missing, and you all felt wounded."
It was pure coincidence that I was reading Please Look After Mom
over Mother's Day weekend. When I finished, I found myself thinking how little I knew about my own mother's hopes and dreams and how I never asked her these questions while she was alive. This thought had been something I had been thinking about as I have gotten older and though I could ask the people in her life, how much better to ask your own mother if you can. I think it would be a lovely conversation. For both of you.
Link to NY Times review