Family

I have an awesome family.

My bro Danny Haewon, Me, and my cute Mama!

Ok, so once upon a time, my dad fell madly in love with my mom, who was about to get engaged with some other dude.  But the other dude and her didn’t work out and she didn’t want to have anything to do with my dad…

But my dad was persistent over many months… there were times he’d try to meet up with her and she would ditch him in the open market and stuff lol…. but eventually even my mom was wowed by his persistence and thought to give it a chance…. turned out my dad was an amazing man who had goals and dreams and big visions of moving to America to start a family and business… which was a HUGE no no to my grandparents on my mom’s side… so… like a great Korean drama… my dad actually did the whole kneeling-outside-the-girls-house-in-the-rain scene… he knelt there for a VERY long time…. in fact since it took up an entire day, my mom went out there to join him for another half day and my grandmother, impressed with his crazy display of stubbornness, brought him inside, where my grandmother finally gave in and gave permission and blessing to marry my mom.  Nuts I tell ya!

Anyhow, my mom and dad got married and flew to America and the rest is history!

I grew up constantly loved – even at times, I thought TOO much. My parents were big believers in hugs, kisses, reading the Bible together at night, praying together, eating dinner together, and family vacations.  Now as an adult, I’ve never been so grateful and so thankful.  These were the moments that lay a foundation in my heart about what it means to be a family, how to love, how to spend quality time together, and to have a hope to one day have the same opportunity to be a great wife and mom.

What I’ve learned from my dad so far:

Effort counts:  If you’re gonna give 80%, don’t bother – you should always be giving 100%.  My dad was a firm believer in making the most of every opportunity and  going all out.  He once told me you should always give your best no matter the outcome so you have no regrets.
– Kindness, Hospitality, & Care:  He told me that these aren’t just qualities of a Christian, but that the world needed more people who were saturated in the things if you wanted to see more goodness in the world.  He said that people were far too selfish and self-serving, and that it would mark the beginnings of generations who wouldn’t know how to give and to show love.  He also said you never know what will happen to you in life, so if you’re always kind and hospitable, genuinely showing care, one day when you need help, you will find that more than one hand will lend a helping hand.
Real men know when to cry and when to fight: He once told me that when I start looking for a husband, that a mature man will know when to cry and when to fight.  He said a man is marked by maturity when he fights passionately for the ones he loves, when he “fights” to keep food on the table, provide financial, emotional, and physical security to his family, but knows when to let go of his ego to promote peace and well-being to all those around him.  He also said real men know when to be vulnerable and shed tears, and when to stand tall and be strong.  He also said some tears are just meant for the wife to see, not the rest of the world. lol.
Never go to bed angry.  Be joyful in general:  My parents never went to bed angry.  Praise God.  They always hashed things out and made sure they settled things before the day was out.  They taught that to me and my bro, even though we did fight like hellions growing up.  In general, my dad was never an angry person, which baffles me sometimes since I am so easily an angry person.  He was never an angry person – he told me life was too short to be angry at things and people all the time.  You’ll miss out on the good stuff.  It’s so much better to be joyful in general.  Thanks dad.
Don’t hide affection.  My dad told me once when I was a little kid, that there were millions of kids around the world that nobody showed love too, which he then would use to justify his crazy hugs and kisses.   It wasn’t until recently that I remember what he said.  To be honest, after being in youth ministry, even though my time with my dad was really short, I know I didn’t miss anything.  I was loved, shown love, and I never lacked for anything in an earthly father.  He always showed his love for me, not just in hugs and kisses, but by simply being there.  He gave up and sacrificed things for me and I have always known that spending time with me was more important to him than money, his own time with friends, and whatnot.  He never failed in that respect.
Think of others & depth of perceptions:  My dad went to be with the Lord on November 3, 2000.  While he was sick I spent a lot of time with him just talking and sharing.  Those moments are burned forever in my heart.  But he was the best example in this that when you read his journal from when he was sick, you see his steadfast love for God, and you also see how he was thinking of me, my brother, and my mom the whole time, asking God to keep us safe, and to take care of us, and prepare us for what was ahead.  Even in his final days, he thought of others before himself.  He used tell me that the depth of a person was so important.  A person who is deep can think deeply, feel deeply, and be peopl who act upon this depth with passion and fervor.  He told me to always be someone who thinks of others and is thinking, feeling, and doing deeply.  He also said I have to marry a guy who’s like that otherwise I will be supremely unhappy.  Best advice ever.  Thanks dad!

WHAT I’VE LEARNED FROM MY MOM SO FAR:
Tone of voice matters:  Oh goodness, I could tell you a million stories, but the tone of voice in which you present something matters A LOT.  Seems like common sense but I guess I am nonsensical most of the time.  My mom knows how to talk to people.  She knows how to speak to them with respect, to help people see her viewpoint without her ego busting in to belittle or to say things in anger.
Don’t give up:  My mother can never be accused of giving up on anything.  Seriously.  She doesn’t give up. This is slightly different from stubbornness… she is stubborn too oh yes, but the “giving up” I’m talking about is never just to surrender because something is hard or something seems overwhelming. After my dad died I can think of a hundred different times where normal people would have given up, but my mom pushed through like Thomas the Train, praying and telling herself that the end result was worth it.  I’m talking about learning stuff that my dad took care of for the business, being a woman in man’s world in business, waking up at the crack of dawn to make sure my bro and I didn’t starve, all that good stuff.   With very little help many times, she conquered and pushed, and without that I wouldn’t be where I am today.
Smile: My mom, like my dad, chooses to smile in the face of adversity.  While I scowl, burrow my eyebrows, yell, and hit things, my mom looks up and smiles.  Some customer could be a rude cus and she’d just smile and say, “Thank you, come again!”  Lord help me, I need to be able to do this.  My mom always says that frowning is not good for your face in general and she says, “Don’t you want people to think of you as a happy person?!”  Smile!
See the good in everybody! My mom sees good qualities in everyone.  Even the most hate-able person, she could find a good quality I think.  So, she taught me a lot about looking for the good in people.  It’s always to find the faults, to point out the mistakes people make, or the unlikeable traits, but my momma taught me to look for the good qualities in a person.  Yes.
Networking & Cultivating relationships:  My mother is social butterfly.  lol.  But more importantly, as I’ve worked with her in our family businesses, I’ve seen her build relationships with people that last through the test of time and difficult circumstances.  She always treats her business partners with respect and is pretty darn fair…. and I’ve seen them time and time again, come to her when they need something and make themselves completely available when she needs help.  Building great relationships is so important!

MY BROTHER / WHAT I’VE LEARNED SO FAR
My little brother and I have had our ups and downs… And though he might tell it differently, I was more indifferent than a terror when we were younger… I think my male cousins did more to terrorize him and be mean.  I think I ignored him mostly when he was in junior high, and hit him hard when I felt like it – but in terms of emotional trauma, I wholeheartedly believe my male cousins were much worse than I.  But shrug, he may tell a different tale. However, I think I can confidently say that when he needed me I was there and that whenever he was picked on by other people than myself, I did my fair share of beating the crap out of kids for him.  Even through it all, he came out ok… which I attribute to God & my parents… Also… I’ve learned from him too:

Sharing is Caring:  When we were younger and my brother would go out with my mom or something without me, he always brought something home.  If my mom bought food, he would always ask, “what about Nuna’s?”… when it was toys, he always brought me something back too. I was lucky if bringing something back home for him ever crossed my mind, but he NEVER forgot.  He ALWAYS brought stuff home for me.  Always.
Listening is Caring:  When my bro and I fight, it’s like World War 3, and lots of times we end fights where one of us just cuts each other off and says, “whatever” and hang up or walk out.  Yeah I know, not the best way to end things.  But my brother always listens.  Despite everything,  he actually does listen to what I say, and even if he doesn’t like it or admit it sometimes, he applies things if they are right to him deep inside.  And that’s how I know he’s listening.
Cheering is Caring: From 2nd grade to Junior high, I have fond moments of my brother cheering from the side as I beat the crap out of some kid for calling me a “chink”, picking on my brother, or picking up on any of the minorities who wanted to be my friend.  I have great memories of him yelling on the sideline going, “That’s right!  Kill him!  Destroy him!  Let him pay!”  When we got older, it would be my brother who would say things like, “Nuna, you can do anything… you really can” and cheer me on in the more important things in life.
Quality time is caring:   The one thing that we Lee siblings do well is play.  We work hard.  We study hard. And we play hard.  And while my life was swallowed up in work the past few years, my brother always reminds me that quality time is important with the family, and we try to most of every opportunity that we can to spend time as family, especially with the cousins, and hopefully our cousins in turn, will do the same in the future with their own families and what not.  Quality time is important!

// EXTENDED FAMILY //
I have a huge extended family.  It’s ridonculous.   My dad had like 7 siblings, my had like 6 siblings, so I mean our family gatherings can get intense, loud, and really hot because so many people are in one room.  I love hanging out with my family.  I particularly love hanging out with my cousins who are all characters… each and every one of them… and I love the fact that I have such a huge family and that we’re grounded and all that… I have that on both sides… most of my dad’s side is now scattered… when I was growing up most of them were in New Jersey or Chicago, but now they are everywhere.  Most of my mom’s side is in Chicago or Korea so I see my mom’s side the most… here’s a pic of them!

Some of my mom's side of the fam: Seungah Allison, Auntie Joh, Grandma, Uncle Joh, Me, Auntie Wang, Danny Haewon, Mama, Seungon Justin (in center), Grace Eunae, and Eunbyul Eunice

 

If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m big on FAMILY.  lol.

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