My Aunt Yimmy


Opening up my own place (tomorrow), has made me think a great deal about one of the very most important human being to ever come into my life. My beloved Aunt Yimmy. She didn't know her true birthday, Somewhere around 60, she changed it to be celebrated in Spring rather then the dark depths of February. Honestly, I believe she was more of an Aries anyway. Plus, She deserved to have whatever birthday she wanted.


I wont get too far into her story because I would be making things up in between what I know. Honestly the paragraph above has a presumption in it.


Here is a bit. She was born in Korea, her father had already been killed, a casualty of World War 2 and the fighting between Japan and Korea. I believe by the age of 3, her mother died. She said she did not remember her face, just photos that she had seen. She was sent to a Buddhist temple. After finding her not to be Nun material, she was adopted, due to life, she was returned. She was "farmed" out. At a very young age, she and other children were used to haul wood to a village market, walking through dark forest in the middle of the night with armloads of wood and motivated by the fear of ghosts that would drag sleeping children into the lake never to be seen from again. Fast forward to years later, she met a handsome GI, my Uncle Jimmy. On March 10th, 1974, my Aunt Yimmy came to America. A week later on St Patrick's day, she was married. 2 years later, on March 10th, 1976, I was born, in my mind linking us together for all of eternity.


She was the first person to REALLY SEE ME. My extended family is very large. When I was young, there were a lot of us kids. 5 I would put just in my age group, and many more older and younger. Some, beautiful, some smart, some out going, none of us shy around each other. I was kinda quiet though, never really took lead on anything. My Aunt was very smart. She learned English, long division, how to coupon, and live on the other side of the earth from where she was born. It was hard, she was living on a farm in Airville, not exactly a great place of diversity. The food, the water, the people, everything was different, and there was trauma to deal with in a world that had yet to recognize trauma as something that needed to be recognized or dealt with. For some reason, I like to believe it was fate, some linking of our souls from another life or time before time. She saw me, she thought, that one is watching, that one is learning by watching.


For 44 years, she was in my life. I resent 2020, because of not going to see her, I did not realize how sick she had become. I was in my own situation, not understanding why I could never seem to get her on the phone, or when I did, she was quick and didn't really make much sense, she talked so lightly and sounded so breathy. One day, I said to hell with it, and I made the run to Airville, to find her swollen, immobile, and dying. I feel shame for not knowing, not asking the right questions, not calling her family members and checking.


I have learned so much about what I never understood about her. How important the culture you grow up in is, how it shapes your beliefs even after they have changed. I can see how the pain of her childhood makes the life she lead so much more amazing. I understand a bit more about how it must have felt taking care of my Grammy for her last years, why it was so important for her to do it. I pray it was a healing for her in some way. The relationship with her daughter, now that my own daughter is 16, I can see how difficult it is when you give all you never had, all the things you believed you yourself missed out on. To be so misunderstood. I can only imagine how it felt, Yimmy opening her own business so many years ago. How difficult it must have been to have to deal with all the people and all the hoops a person must go through. How it must have felt to be able to send back to her family in Korea something to help.


I will never know what it felt like to be her, to be a foreigner in rural 1980,'s America, to be Korean, to be orphaned young. I do know the feeling of being misunderstood well. I know what it feels like to not belong. I know the pain of caring for the dying (far from the extent of her care for my grammy), and relationships that are thrown off track because of long held trauma, and the goggles we see the world through because of it. I know what it is like to be uneducated but not dumb, and what it is like to be treated as if those 2 things are the same. Most importantly, I know what it is like to be loved by someone who sees the best of themselves in me. Someone who was willing to always tell me the truth as they saw it. Someone who loved me so much she washed between my toes and behind my ears when I spent the night as a little girl. She bought me my first piece of gold jewelry, and gave me fabulous advise that I continue to not only use but find new meaning in.


I wish she were here to see me open this place, even though she did not understand my love of yoga, or why I stuck with it when I was heavy and it was not helping me to lose weight. "It keeps me sane Aunt Yimmy" was my reply. It still does, or at least as close to sane as I will ever be.


So here is to the people who come into our lives and love us despite it all. I did cause her pain at times, as people who we love tend to do. I hope she got from me something she needed. I received so much from her. I thought we had more time. I thought she was too tough to die. I never did talk her into practicing with me. That is ok, now she practices with me all the time.





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