이번 한국 방문 시 103세가 되시는 외할머니를 거의 10년 만에 만나 뵈었습니다. 한국은 1년에 한두 번 나가지만 늘 일만 마치고 들어오는 바람에 못 뵈었는데, 이번에는 요양원에 계시는 할머니를 어머니와 함께 찾아뵐 수 있었습니다. 당신의 나이가 95세에서 멈춘 치매기 외에는 10년 만에 만난 외손자도 기억하시고 건강해 보이셨습니다. 1년 반 전 저의 아버지의 소천도 기억하고 계셨습니다. 이제 혼자되신 80세 다 돼가시는 어머니를 위로하시는 외할머니의 모습을 보며, 웃어야 할지 울어야 할지 표정관리가 되지 않았습니다. 이 얘기 저 얘기 안부를 나누는데 손녀딸 시어머니도 소천하셨다는 소식을 접하면서 “잘 됐다.” 하셔서 깜짝 놀랐습니다. “그 까다로운 시애미…” 하시면서 “내가 너무 오래 살아 며느리에게 좀 미안하지만… 그 일은 잘~ 됐다” 하시는 것이었습니다. 같이 그 자리에 있었던 초등학생 증손녀가 전혀 기대하지 않았던 증조할머니 반응에 깜짝 놀란 표정이었습니다. 누가 돌아가셨다고 하면 “참 안됐다” 해야 할 대체적 반응을 초등학생도 아는데, “잘~ 됐다”라는 말이 증조할머니 입에서 나와 너무 놀랐다는 증손녀의 말에 우리는 모두 포복절도(抱腹絕倒)하며 웃었습니다.

사람들은 다 그런가 봅니다. 자기 피붙이는 80세가 되어도 불쌍해 보이고 자기 혈육을 괴롭히는 자는 몇 살에 죽든 상관없이 잘 된 것으로 생각하나 봅니다. 치매증세가 있어서 생각이 어두워졌다고 할 수 있지만 치매 때문에 더 솔직한 내면을 드러내 보이는 것이 아닌가 싶습니다. 지금도 기억납니다. 장모님이 우리 아내가 해산할 때 자연 분만하는데도 차마 눈뜨고 못 보겠다고 하시더니, 당신 며느리는 배 가르고 피가 낭자한 상황에서 애를 낳는데도 멀쩡히 눈뜨고 애 받는 모습을 보셨다고 합니다. 며느리도 깨물면 아픈 손가락 인것처럼 내 자식인 것은 분명한데, 딸이 아픈 것과 며느리가 아픈 것을 보는 시어머니와 엄마의 마음은 조금은 차이가 있나 봅니다.

이제 친구 목사들 모임에 가면 반은 할아버지가 되어 있습니다. 이제 농담 반 진담 반으로 할례 파와 무할례파를 나누듯 할아파와 무할아파를 나누자고 했습니다. 할아버지가 된 목사들이 만나면 손주들 얘기만 하는데 무할아파는 도무지 대화에 낄 소재가 없습니다. 다같이 스마트폰을 꺼내들고 손주 사진들을 서로 보여주면서 자랑을 하는데 가관입니다. 얼마 전까지만 해도 만나면 세계 복음화를 위해 죽음도 불사하고 교회 동원을 위해 애쓰자던 분들이었는데, 이제는 손주들 사진 보여주며 침이 튀는 분들이 되었습니다. 제가 더는 대화를 못 들어 주겠으니 주제를 바꾸자고 퉁퉁 거렸더니 “낳아보지 않았으면 도무지 몰라, 이게 피 맛(혈육)이야!” 하십니다. 혈육을 향한 강렬한 애착을 새삼 깨닫습니다. 우리도 모두 예수 보혈의 맛을 본 사람들인데 복음에 강렬한 애착으로 예수를 자랑하는 가관
이 있기를 바랍니다.


The Sweetness of Family!

Rev. Bryan Kim

While visiting Korea, I had a fond reunion with my grandmother, one hundred and three years young, after nearly ten years of not seeing her. I usually visit Korea once or twice a year, and being busily engaged I always had no time to see her, but this time I was able to visit her in her elderly hospital with my mother. Despite the dementia that nearly froze her age at ninety-five, she was still able to recognize her grandson and seemed perfectly healthy. She even remembered my father’s passing a year and a half ago. It was difficult to decipher her conflicting expressions of happiness and sadness as I’m sure even she was in consternation as to how to react to my mother, whom was now left alone at age eighty. While we were conversing here and there, she suddenly said “That’s good!” to the news that her granddaughter’s mother in law passed away as well. “That fussy old cow…,” she said. “I’m sorry to my own daughter in law for living so long… but that’s definitely good news,” she further said. Her great-granddaughter, still in elementary school, was left in shock to hear those words from her great-grandmother’s mouth. We were left helpless but to convulse in laughter as we heard how shocked her greatgranddaughter was to hear ‘that’s good news’ instead of ‘how unfortunate’ regarding someone’s death from her great-grandmother’s lips.

It seems as though people are like that. We pity an elderly eighty year old if they are part of our own flesh and blood, but for those on the outside, it seems to not matter as much when they die, especially if they hurt those that are related by flesh and blood. We can say that her mind is flickering with her dementia, but it almost seems as if we are getting a more genuine version of her at the same time. I still remember. When my wife was giving birth, my mother in law had to look away at her daughter even though she was giving birth naturally. But when it came to her daughter in law, she was able to keep her eyes wide open through the cutting and the bleeding of a c-section surgery. A daughter in law is still indeed a mother in law’s own daughter, however, there may be a stark difference in heart as to how a mother in law and a mother view their own daughter and a daughter in law.

These days, whenever I would go to pastor meetings, half of them have become grandfathers. Partially as a joke, whenever we gather now, as if there were a circumcised group and a uncircumcised group, we split up into a grandfather group and an ‘ungrandfather’ group. It is quite a spectacle to see as we all pull out our smart phones to share pictures and brag of our grandchildren. It is strange, almost, as these were the same men that mobilized churches and were ready to be martyred for the sake of a world Gospelization. Now they’ve become grandparents with spit flying out of their mouths as they boast of their grandchildren. There was a moment when I had had enough and tried to change the subject when a colleague interjected by saying, “If you don’t have them, you don’t know that this is the sweet taste of family!” I discovered anew the strong attachment that flesh and blood allows. We are all those that have tasted the sweet taste of family in Christ by His blood. I pray for another spectacle to see among us as we boast of our Lord Jesus Christ through having a strong attachment to His Gospel message.