My mom wrote a book, and hilarity ensues when she has a book party
In case anyone was wondering what a retired widow does with her time. Plus, whoever wrote Lane's wedding scene on Gilmore Girls really nailed the Korean-ness of it.
“Jenny, don’t call me between 7 and 10am. This is my writing time.”1
This is what I was greeted with one morning about 14 months ago when I called my mother on the phone. I didn’t think anything of it as I assumed she was just journaling or taking up some sort of hobby in her recent official retirement from her company. I mean, everyone can use a good, cathartic journaling session, am I right? But about a month later, she slipped into our phone conversation, an announcement that she was writing a book. Oh you know, just a casual mention sandwiched between other mundane bits of back and forth dialogue between us.
“A book? About what?” I ask, not really absorbing this bit of news quite yet. Lots of people say they are writing books.
“I’m writing about my spiritual journey, my life.”
I find myself mentally chewing on this information and filing it away while babbling some words of encouragement because I can’t really process what I had just heard.
Many months later, after barely any mentions of the book since, I receive a text with three small images of what looks like design proofs for a book cover.
“Which do you like best? It’s for my book,” my mom asks in a text.
I stare at the three thumbnails, finally realizing that when my mom said she was writing a “book”, she meant that she was WRITING A BOOK—the kind that was going to be published and distributed and potentially read by tens? hundreds?? thousands??? of people. I open the images on my phone one by one, trying my best to read the title and other copy in Korean.
“You should use the last one,” I text her back, not convinced my opinion was going to have any weight on her selection.
This book, the title of which is roughly translated as “My Grace”, has been sitting on my desk for 2 months now, a first batch release copy that my mom has signed and given to me. I couldn’t tell you what the book is about though, because even though I can phonetically read every word, I am not yet fluent in Korean. I know this sounds absurd. I am reminded every day I see the book on my desk, that I have in my possession what is essentially a memoir written by my mother, that I can’t fully read. It sits there almost mocking me, its pages full of secrets, family history, and who knows what other nuggets of information about my mother that is unbeknownst to me. Or…maybe it’s not really about our family at all. Maybe it’s entirely dedicated to her spiritual practice and her belief in God. Or her charity work…or…something else?
I don’t know!