19 Comments
founding

Oh Jenna, this is all so very touching. I wish I was there to give you hugs and be a crying partner. I can honestly say that the empty nest (for me) has never filled up but it isn’t usually aching nor raw. Small mercies. The closest full nest was actually when Mark recently made a solo trip to visit us here. He, Lara and I took a day trip to Bainbridge Island and I spent much of he day consciously soaking in the 3-ness of yore. It was worth it having just those few days. The nest is still feeling the warmth.

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I'm glad he was able to make the trip. I'm sure there will be more solo trips like that in the future.

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Feb 8, 2023Liked by Jenna Park

So many hugs Jenna— so much of what you wrote here was reflected in our lives as children of Korean immigrants. The conversation you wrote of with your father is one that I’ve seen in my own kakao chats. Cheering you on as you continue your daily battles with Duolingo and finding peace in the righteous claiming of your culture and history.

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Thank you, Christine!

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Feb 8, 2023·edited Feb 8, 2023Liked by Jenna Park

I felt this so much, especially the part about not being ___ enough and at the same time not being American enough. My parents speak Mandarin, Tagalog, and a dialect of Chinese that is only spoken in a small part of Asia. I grew up not speaking any of these languages fluently, yet languishing in disappointment when I tried to. Then being teased for pronouncing things incorrectly. My grandmother recently passed from a stroke + dementia and we were never able to communicate effectively, enough for me to learn about her and her past. Everything I know is through secondhand stories from my mom and her siblings. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experience. With my own biracial kid, he is even further removed from my mother languages, and I can feel that part of me slipping away. This makes me want to try to do the learning together so we can have each other to practice with. Without the judgement or embarrassment.

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So many parallels here. I'm sorry for your loss. I, too, still know very very little about my grandmother. And yes, you can learn together with your child! It's been great to see my child take Korean in college. I wonder if she will learn faster than me having an actual teacher and tests and assignments.

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Feb 12, 2023Liked by Jenna Park

It’s so tough to learn/master a new language. Out of our huge group of friends, we only have one that manage to get their kids to speak fluent mandarin. Most of the kids are resistant to speak/learn mandarin unless it’s during their weekly mandarin class.

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yup, In order to really learn, you have to have a willingness and desire to learn. Which may not happen until you are older!

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I just found your Substack and am so thrilled. So much of what you write resonates strongly for me. My mom is 92 and from Japan, and still in denial over being in the US. My Japanese is nowhere near fluent but I’ve worked so hard over the years to get better, and three out of my four kids even studied it in college. Language cuts to the core of who we are, and not being able to really and truly converse with our older family members hurts. Hugs to you and condolences. I’m so glad you had that conversation with your dad. I’m reading your entire archive, you have so much good stuff in there.

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So glad to have you here! I am definitely putting that to the test while I’m here in Korea. About to meet relatives I haven’t seen in maybe 20 years?

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I can relate to this story because my father has dementia as well and I'm writing a book about our journey together. It is difficult and heart breaking and I am grateful to have read your story. I'll be following you closely! Thank you for sharing. 💔

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I just subscribed and I am excited to follow along your book journey, Janice.

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Thank you, Jenna. 🫰🏼

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This was a wonderful piece. Thanks for sharing. I've had a similar experience growing up not speaking Hindi but being from an Indian family in the US. Its encouraging to hear you've found a way to pursue and learn the language. It gives me hope I'll one day be able to do the same!

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Thank you, Dhruv. There is always hope! With a little time and effort :)

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Hi Jenna, I found this piece in the Explore section and am so glad I did. I lost my dad a year ago in very different circumstances. His was a sudden heart attack; there one moment and gone the next. I've wondered often about which is more cruel: the long, protracted deterioration and sad, slow ending or them being themselves until the end, but not having the chance at all to say goodbye. I think it's all sore, though. It's all grief in the end. Wishing you and your family well as you continue to navigate this new, strange fatherless land.

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Lindsay, I am so sorry to hear about your loss, and I hope this post provided a small sliver of feeling like you are not alone. I hope that you and your family continue to heal as well. I've experienced both types of losses and agree, no matter how it happens, it's all grief in the end. Alzheimers is strange though. I feel like I was saying goodbye at each of the phases, but only after the fact. In the end, because my father died alone in the nursing home, it didn't really feel like a goodbye at all.

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Feb 2Liked by Jenna Park

Learning the “homeland” language is always going to be a struggle with us immigrants. I’m a gen 1.5 myself and an 80s baby. I’ve met many friends who’re like me and also born stateside. I’ve accepted the fact that my kids will grow up with ABC/ABJ/ABK/ABT accents and my grandkids (if I’m lucky to have any) will not speak the language at all, and that’s totally fine. As long as I can speak English, we can communicate. Just like the Italians and Germans and French who made their lives in the US and Canada, they eventually lose their home languages. Don’t be so hard on yourself. I think parents and kids communicate much more than just through language. Love your writing on these types of topics, keep up the great work!

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Thanks Zeta. I think the "being hard on myself" roots from the complicated relationships that I've had with my parents. Doesn't it always come down to that 😬

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