Power of Your Love

March 14, 2008
People often talk about their moms and ask me “What’s your mom like?” Then I feel a chunk of apple in my throat. I have lived with her for 18 years, yet I still don’t know her basic traits: what color she likes, what foundation she uses, how many stores she owns. I am who I am, however, because she was who she was.

When I was in first grade, my class went on a picnic all together accompanied by our mommies. “Mom! Come here! Look!” my friends called out to their moms to show earthworms they found wiggling on the ground.

But I put some distance between my mom and me—I was ashamed of her. She seemed fat and fortuneless while other moms looked blooming and booming. She didn’t invest money on her beauty as all other moms did.

“Come to Mama, So Yeon,” said she. Instead of running into her arms, I looked at her bleakly. She sat in the shadow under a tree and observed others whining, laughing, running. I felt her watching me—I averted my eyes from her to random objects. Soon, we took a class picture. A mom and a child held hands closely and stood before the camera.

“Come here, So Yeon.” My mom stretched her arm to get hold of me. I looked into her dark brown eyes and turned around from her as if she were a stranger. I stood between my friends in the middle of the first row.
When my teacher posted the developed picture on the board, I searched for my mom. After a few minutes of struggle, I spotted her. Only half of her face was showing because she was too short to withstand the crowd. I could see that she stood on her tiptoes. But she was smiling. How could she be smiling on such a depressing trip? No one talked to her. I never found out why because that picnic was the first and the last trip she has ever taken with me.
A few months later, she started her own business in women’s apparel. And for the next six years, she barely had more than four hours of sleep a day. I remember her focusing her eyes on a book while vacuuming under the table in the living room. I remember her yelling on the phone to get a dollar discount. I remember her staring at her first store before its opening night.
Due to her arduous work, my family gained some wealth. We moved to a rich town where all the important buildings were located. When I became a high school student, she had earned enough to own the six most popular apparel stores in the city. Yet she still looked uncivilized.
Right after my 16th birthday, I left her to study abroad. When I was passing through the boarding gate to catch my flight to Toronto, I turned back to see her one more time.
“So Yeon! So Yeon! Oh, my little girl. . . .” She alternately yelled and mumbled in a huge crowd. Several people glanced at her—but her eyes only looked for the little girl. I saw her face sticking above the crowd. I guessed she was standing on her toes again. She struggled to hide her tears with a smile, but that just made her look more mournful. Then the gate closed.
Surprisingly, I wasn’t ashamed of her this time; I was proud to be her daughter. How immature I had been to yell at her weary face every time I saw her. She wasn’t strong; she only pretended to be. Now, wherever I go or whatever I do, I stand on her tiptoes that lift me up.

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