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My Korean Grandmother

Me Ra Koh

This last Saturday shot a Korean wedding. The vibrant colors of the women’s Hanbok dresses were breathtaking. But what moved me the most was seeing the bride’s Halmoni, her Korean grandmother.

My Halmoni died a few years ago, and it’s still hard to believe she’s no longer with us. When she was forty she converted to Christianity, and for the next forty years she prayed every morning for her children and grandchildren. Like clock work, she would wake up at 4am and pray for two hours. I went to her house one morning at 4 am to sit and pray with her, but I was so overwhelmed by her passionate cry to God I could only listen in awe.

When you haven’t lost a family member, you can tend to think they will always be there. There was a time when I couldn’t picture life without Halmoni making rice and kimchee for her grandchildren–Or throwing shoes at my little brother b/c she wanted him to stay home today. ūüôā As a child, I didn’t realize she was the glue to our family. Because of her, my aunts and uncles and parents all lived on the same block for years. And there are days when I would give the world to be a little girl again, running from one auntie’s house to the next.

My dad was in his twenties when he left all that he knew in Korea to start a new life in America. But before he left my uncle captured this photo of my dad and Halmoni laughing on the floor together. My Halmoni was more of a serious nature, but it was my dad–her little boy–that could always make her smile.

This picture will always be among my most treasured. It’s amazing how much one image can say about a relationship.

These days I often find myself shadowing grandparents at weddings. Sometimes our clients are younger, and I wonder if they feel like their grandparents will be around forever. Now that I’ve lost my Halmoni I know better. And without realizing it, my heart goes searching for the moments shared between grandparent and grandchild–moments that show the obvious gap in generations but at the same time tell of the comfort and love we have always felt from our grandparents.

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  1. lanikai

    August 31st, 2006 at 4:39 pm

    What a gift that you are as talented with words as you are with your camera. No wonder you can capture these intimate moments of love so effortlessly. Keep taking beautiful pictures and making beautiful memories!!!! We will keep enjoying them!

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    May 16th, 2008 at 5:11 am

    Valtrex and ache….

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    May 17th, 2008 at 7:20 am

    Famvir….

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