Breathe. And breathe again.
This past week has one of the most painful weeks of my life. My mother had a stroke last week on the left side of her brain that has taken away her ability to speak, swallow, and move the right side of her body. We started feeding her this morning through a feeding tube and stay hopeful for a strong recovery. It will definitely be a long road back to health.
While staying by her side this past week, I’ve had plenty of time to reflect on so many things at so many many levels.
[Disclaimer: I recognize that I’m in the moment so please forgive me if I sound irrational or skewed in my views. Blogging has always been helpful to me in articulating and processing my thoughts and feelings. In other words, please take my words with a grain of salt.]
A Little Context
My mother is a strong, ambitious woman. She has only known a life of hard work, sacrificing for others, and carrying the weight of care for so many. I’m not exaggerating here. Her relentless dedication to help people, whether as a serial entrepreneur of multiple restaurants that have created jobs for so many or a catalytic leader of an orphanage (Sarang House – “sarang” is love in Korean) that currently serves close to 40 kids, is undeniable. Nevertheless, it’s come at a great price. It has impacted her physical health (or lack thereof) as well as the health of my relationship with her.
As an only child, I always knew my mother and father (both before and after their divorce) had the best intentions for me. After all, they came to the US in hopes of giving me a better opportunity for success. I think they’ve succeeded. Unfortunately, the hard work of paving this pathway for a better future came at the cost of their marriage, health, and their relationship with their son. Both my parents valiantly tried their best to be in my life. Understandably, life just became too much to manage and something had to give. I suppose some would say that I was a victim of the circumstances. I don’t think so.
The older I’ve become, I’ve come recognize that they were doing their best with what they had. Life just happens.
My mother has expressed over recent years how much she’s regretted not being more proactively involved in my life. She always tells me how thankful she is to God for how I turned out. [Only if she knew the whole story of my life…she probably wouldn’t be so confident with those kinds of statements. 🙂 ] Knowing her, I can only imagine how bad she feels right now for being a “burden” to our family. While this is not true at any level, I’m aware that her desire to be self-sufficient is probably eating her alive inside.
I love my mom. We don’t have the closest relationship in the world, but I have no doubt that she has nothing more she desires than to be close in our relationship. I’ve always wanted that too, but life just happened. Now we’re here together.
The What If’s & Now What’s?
I’ve slid up and down the range of human emotions this week. I’ve gone from smiles to tears to frustration to anger on a moment’s notice. I know it’s normal, but it’s still hard. The “what if’s” and my desire to “fix” the situation have now taken a back seat to leaning on God’s timing. The conflicts between my mind and my heart have been difficult to navigate. Breathe. And breathe again.
My Model for Generosity and Human Care
I feel blessed to have had the opportunity in recent years to communicate how proud I’ve been of my mother’s accomplishments over the years. She’s really the reason why I have chosen to live a path of generosity and care. I’ve seen her up-close providing jobs for people, giving away resources including a car to an employee long ago, and sacrificing her own comfort to see other people succeed in life. I’ve tried my best to model my life around her example. She always said that being good to others will eventually come back to benefit your life. She taught me early in life about little things like never going out to share a meal unless you have enough to cover everyone’s meal or always seeking the goodwill and success of others before yourself. Good principles to live by.
Currently, she is splitting time between life here in retirement and helping to fund and lead an orphanage in China. There are many kids in China that see her as mom or grandma. For many of these kids who have experienced horrors in their life, she’s become their Mother Teresa. They still don’t know what’s happened to her and I can only imagine what their response might be when we share the news in due time. There’s a good team of people working there so we are hopeful that things will continue to run well in her absence. Nevertheless, our family and a network of close friends are working towards figuring out how we might support the orphanage for a year while she is in recovery or until we can find a person who might be able to take over the leadership in a more official capacity. The orphanage has beautiful facilities and a growing network of people and businesses in the area who believe in it, but there are those there that would like nothing better than to see my mother out of the picture and leverage the property for something else.
The Weeks to Come
I’m planning to put together a public campaign to fund my mother’s orphanage for a year. I’ve never really asked my close friends or extended network to ever give to something to anything this close to me and my family. I feel uncomfortable in asking for things to my benefit. It’s part pride and part what my mother taught about caring for the needs of others first. In this case, I’m going to ask for help.
It only takes about $5,000/month to run her orphanage in China. I’d like to raise enough to cover 2014 plus some extra expenses to help cover costs for her recovery. I plan to get a campaign going in a couple of weeks so I would love your support in funding this endeavor. My wife and I have committed to funding a few months ourselves so that we can have funds bleeding into 2015 as well.
Would you consider being on an email list for this campaign? I know there are a million other non-profit campaigns going on this holiday season. Would you do me a personal favor and help our family out and budget something to contribute in early/mid-December?
If you are interested, please fill out the brief form below to be added to this email list. I promise that I will not spam you or use your email for anything else other than this specific campaign.
I’m so hopeful as to what God will birth out of this circumstance. I think he loves the kids too much to not provide. I hope you will join me in this endeavor.
In the meantime, we will keep breathing and praying as we continue on this journey through life. Thank you so much for the prayers and expressions of kindness you’ve given our family.