이 무더위에 아버지는 무엇을 드시며 더위를 이기셨는지 기억 나는 음식도 없네요. 자식이 되어서 아버지 살아 계실 때 음식 대접도 제대로 하지 못한 것이 오늘따라 마음 아프게 다가옵니다. 무더위에 삼계탕이라도 많이 드셨으면 더 건강하게 오래 사셨을까 후회도 됩니다. 콩밥은 엄청 좋아하셔서 늘 쌀에 콩 섞지 말고 콩에 쌀을 섞으라고 하실 정도였지만, 저처럼 국수를 즐기지 않으셔서 콩국수는 잘 안 드셨는데, 아버지가 살아 계셨으면 이렇게 더운 여름에 무엇을 대접했을까 잘 떠오르지 않습니다. 유치원도 아직 들어가지 않은 저에게 ‘앞으로 중국말을 해야 한다’고 화교에 보내셨던 아버지가, 중학교 때는 영어도 해야 한다고 원어민 영어회화 테이프를 가져와 매일 영어 발음을 연습하게 하셨습니다. 말년에 골프를 즐겨 치셨는데, 지금도 살아 계셨으면 아직 골프를 모르는 저에게 한 수 가르쳐 주시겠다고 나셨을 것 같기도 합니다. 아버지가 많이 보고 싶은 이 여름에 어머니 모시고 나가 짬뽕으로 이열치열 해야겠습니다.
Musings on My Father in the Sweltering Heat
Rev. Bryan Kim
I do not know if it is because we just happened to end our refreshing theological lecture series, but this last week was the most sweltering week of this summer. This week, our family celebrated the birthday of my younger sister and in an exchange of congratulatory messages, with thanksgiving, my sister said to my mother, “it must have been so much work to give birth to me in this heat.” At that moment I thought of the words of my father when he articulated to me that when I was a newborn child in the dead heat of June, it was a particularly difficult summer. We lived in an orchard house when my parents were newlyweds, and due to the profusion of mosquitoes I was nearly raised in a mosquito net. I was told that the mosquito net would become a wailing net at night. My father would cradle me in his arms, slouching forward, trying to pacify me from my sleepless nights of crying and wailing, because of the heat and a mosquito net that seemingly was not permeable by air. No matter how hard he tried, I would not stop crying. After my father lost his job, he invested in three sheep and busied himself with trying to start a milk business. I am simply apologetic toward my parents whom had to endure through so much during the poorest period of their lives while caring for a restless newborn, ironically created with joy, adding insult to injury. In the dead heat of August, as my father’s patience was pushed to its brinks, he later told me that he wanted to throw me on the sheets and cover my mouth with a pillow. He almost became the headliner in the morning paper, ‘A Midsummer Night, Suffocation of a Newborn in a Mosquito Net.’ Still, I am here today, but my father is not. The reason children are here today is due to the hundreds if not thousands of times parents had to overcome the limitation on perseverance.
In this sweltering heat, I can not even recall what my father would eat or drink to overcome it. As his son, It hurts me that I did not even properly serve him a meal while he was alive. I lament that he may have even lived longer if he had a bowl of ginseng chicken soup in the heat. He loved rice with beans so much that it was almost that he had beans with rice. I loved noodles which he did not so cold bean noodles would not have been appropriate to serve him. I actually can not think of what I would serve him in this summer heat if he was still with us. My father, before I even entered preschool, emphasized that I needed to learn Chinese so he sent me to a Chinese school. Later, in middle school, he stressed the importance of learning english and had me listen to conversational English tapes everyday to practice my pronunciation. In his latter years he really enjoyed golf, and I am sure that if was still with us today, he would try and teach me as I still do not know how to play. On this summer day that I miss my father, I might as well fight fire with fire and go enjoy a bowl of hot spicy seafood soup with my mother.