I went home to drop off a dog and to see my parents this weekend. More on the dog later. It's been a while since we had lunch and caught up – mostly because of COVD related anxieties and social distancing.
It was sweet to see them.
Over Publix subs and Hawaiian coffee, my mom casually dropped a soul bomb. You know of those moments that simultaneously tear you open and fill you up. Anyways, she told my wife and me that she had been speaking with my mother-in-law and that my mother-in-law had mentioned she was looking into what it'd be like to retire in Korea – something my parents were also considering. All news to me.
I'm sure all kinds of people think about their parents and what the latter half of their lives should and will look like, but I think many POC and especially people of Asian descent, take special account of this. In part, due to Confucianist ideologies and familial-honor-based culture, but also in part due to guilt.
For me, it's guilt that my parents gave up a life in a place they belonged to begin again as others. It's guilt that I could not become successful more quickly, to give them what they deserve sooner. Guilt that they've perhaps given up on their dreams, for me, for us. Guilt that maybe my life won't live up to their sacrifice.
My mom said that she was looking into it because many people have told her how much easier it is to retire in Korea, and how hard it'll be in the US (non-universal healthcare, transportation, etc.) She said she's always been hesitant about the idea because she didn't want to be too far from us, but after talking with my sister, she saw that for us, the most important thing is that they are ok. She seemed to have started accepting that. She went as far as to say that they are thinking of going to Korea soon to see what it'd really be like.
I don't know about you, but I always imagined these conversations happening very dramatically. Perhaps looking at old family heirlooms and cross-legged on the carpet – maybe a tear or two. Instead it was over a kitchen counter and butcher paper.
I don't think the guilt will ever let up. I think the guilt is an old and forever scar that reminds me of what it took to have the life I do. The guilt is the bite of that first drink after a long day. The guilt is the pain of walking up gilded steps.
I'm going to work with the guilt, not because of it.