Today is Mother's Day. In the past, today represents a day where I call my mom and say, "Happy Mother's Day," converse for about 16 minutes, hang up, and then go about the rest of my day. This year, Mother's Day feels different. After opening up the Pandora's Box of Biological Discovery this past February and going back to Korea, I now know much more information about my biological mother than I had previously known. This will be the first and only time I will spend talking about my biological mother on Mother's Day. Mother's Day in the past has been reserved for and will continue to be reserved in the future (after this post) for MY REAL MOM. I cringe every time on the KAD page when people reference their A-moms. A-mom stands for adoptive mom. I understand the need to differentiate, but my real mom is a very neurotic dog obsessed lady happily retired in central Florida with MY REAL DAD.
I remember being around the dead body of my mother in Korea. My brothers and I were crying because our favorite American Idol singer just got eliminated. No, that doesn't sound right. Why were we crying? Probably something to do with the fact the woman who took care of us decided to stop breathing. I remember thinking that I wanted to help them to stop crying, but it's very hard to comfort the people around you when you have so much snot coming out of your nose from hysterically crying, too. Because of this, I never really held on to any resentment towards my biological mother as I was growing up. I also never really blamed Han Mu (my biological father) for skedaddling out on the responsibility of raising three kids on his own. It just was what it was.
Imagine my confusion when, during my trip in February, I found out from Han Mu that my biological mother died 4 years ago. Wait, WHAT? Immediately, I am starting to question my mental health. I swear a Hollywood movie would want the montage of flashbacks going through my head that were occurring, while I was realizing everything my life was built on was a lie I had created. It felt very Butterfly Effect-y. (I mean, the first one... that was good, not the subsequent two pieces of crap sequels). It was explained that yes, there was a dead body. It was that of our caretaker. Caretaker, not in the affluent "hire an au pair to look after the kids," but caretaker, as in "dump the kids off with the older next-door neighbor." Han Mu had to work overseas to try to pay off crippling financial debt due to the complications of my birth. Apparently, the novelty cufflinks I was wearing while being birthed were too sharp, cut into the birth canal, and resulted in an emergency C-section. Han Mu quit his job as a machine operator at a purse factory to work plumbing construction in Iraq of all places. This left my bio mom to look after the kids, but as the story goes, she was presented with a unique business opportunity combining pant sales and prostitution. I know often times when I am looking for a pair of dress pants, what I really want is a blowjob with all the fixings in the dressing room. So, it totally makes sense. I guess having toddlers in tow interferes with the sex for money process. The look on my face when the translator was trying to explain prostitution without using the words prostitute, hooker, and bumping uglies for cash must have been priceless. He further explained in the past, this was actually not that uncommon. Entrepreneurs, aka pimps, would entrap women with financial woes into these plans resulting in financial losses that would then be paid off by entering the comfort business. I told him I knew exactly what he was talking about, it's called Rodan + Fields here in the US.
The deal was the next-door neighbor agreed to look after us while my bio mom was building her clientele. This was supposed to be a very short-term agreement. Apparently, it turned into years. The woman I assumed was my mother was in fact some nice lady who eventually got 3 kids dumped into her lap. Word got back to Han Mu about his wife now being a strong, independent woman pursuing her own occupational goals. After a couple more meetings with Han Mu, he also disclosed to me that there was a possibility of another man in the picture as well. I asked if the other man was wearing high heel boots with goldfish in the heels (perhaps introducing I'm Gonna Git You, Sucka references during this conversation wasn't the best idea), and Han Mu shook his head. This was a romantic rival. Han Mu's employer allowed him to return home to get his affairs in order. I guess it was a win/win because no matter what happened, he would at least have a couple pairs of new pants out of the whole thing, right?
Here's another crazy revelation. I had a very traumatic incident in my childhood involving a gate, the biggest douchebag dog of all time and my older brother. I ended up losing my older brother. In between gout interrogations and trying to un-fuck Han Mu's current life, I discovered my older brother was in fact my uncle. HUH? Here we go, back to Butterfly Effect montages. It was then explained to me my uncle was two years older than me and we were living in the same house. You know, I used to make fun of hillbilly rednecks all the time. I have to stop doing that - not when I have such positive memories of my brother-uncle. Both my brother-uncle and my bio mom are now dead. They just died in very different circumstances then I remembered.
My brother-uncle committed suicide about a decade ago. He did get married and did not have children. When I go back to Korea, I will pursue this storyline much further. I don't know if you have ever been in the presence of greatness, but my favorite memory of him is his face wrapped in the glow of sunlight. I hero worshipped him as a kid. All the other street kids wanted to play with him and he always allowed me to call the shots on our food stealing missions. I wish he had a better life and I still feel culpable for the events leading to our departure from one another. There is nothing funny to say about this, or glib sarcastic remarks regarding this because I do not know if I will ever meet someone who exudes greatness like him ever again. Even as a five-year-old, I knew I was in the presence of something extraordinary. Hero worship was the least I could do.
Predictably, pant sales didn't work out very well for my bio mom. My wife doesn't like when I want to have an intimate moment with her now, I ask, "Hey, are you selling any pants?" It's always followed by an exasperated, "Honnnnneyyyyy!!!!!" I guess that it spoils the mood because it isn't very romantic. When Han Mu said I look a lot like her, I said I was sorry he married such an ugly woman. He bristled at that joke and, for a brief moment, you could see some pride in his eyes. He told me my bio mom was very beautiful. Which explains my amazing cheekbones. Her aesthetic qualities allowed her to become the Men's Wearhouse of sex for many, many years. Han Mu said she died all alone 4 years ago and her body was found in a station. I guess I was too saddened by this realization to ask how he came to know about it. And, I didn't bother inquiring as to what kind of station it was. I was just soaking in all of this new data, and my feeble processing mind wasn't really working all that well.
Like the Butterfly Effect, I wonder how much better their lives would have been if I simply had never been born. All the money owed due to the complications during my birth wouldn't have existed. Han Mu wouldn't have had to work in the Middle East away from his family all those years. Han Mu could have divorced my bio mom for normal reasons, like infidelity, instead of guerrilla garment sales tactics gone awry. Maybe, my bio mom could have lived a happier life, and not died alone in the most undignified way. My REAL DAD likes to say, "If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, what a wonderful world this would be." The ifs and buts in my history boil down to one simple thing. This doesn't take away from all the things I have now, but if I could I would go back and give my bio mom the only present I can think of that would have made any difference. And, it would be to make her not a mom at all. Happy Mother's Day and Rest in Peace. Thank you for this gift of life.
#musings #nowhatareyoureally #korean #internationaladoption #Mothersday #nowhatareyoureally #adoptee #musingsfromanadoptee #fromaninternationaladoptee #musingsfromaninternationaladoptee #Derek #DerekFisher #MusingsfromaKoreanAmericanAdoptee #MusingsofaKoreanAmericanAdoptee #musingsofaninternationaladoptee