Doesn’t matter what time I get home, my Halmoni always asks if I want to eat food. Wednesdays and Thursdays are really challenging days for me because I’m at my graduate program from 8:30AM-10PM. Today was a significant day for two reasons.
First, it’s Ash Wednesday.
Second, it’s my Apa’s birthday.
I felt really sad to miss out on my Apa’s birthday festivities.
I already had dinner, but I wanted to make Day 1 of this project special by sharing it with my Halmoni before she flies out. So I had a late second dinner around 11PM. She drank 9-grain tea with me. She told me something interesting.
The Korean phrase, “돌봐준다”, she said, is a very compassionate phrase that informs the nursing practice of caregiving and medical support. Translated, it means to look after. She explained it as to look after, as in the way of a circle or a sphere. When you nurse, tend, care for someone, you look all over and all around them. It is much like, “엄마가 아이를 돌보고…”, or translated, the way a mother takes care of her child. “앞을보고, 뒤를 보고, 옆을 봐주는일…” (translated: Looking around the front, looking around the back, and looking all over the sides.) As she said this, she gestured with her hand around me.
While she spoke, I looked at the two plates made in the shape of halves to form a whole. They weren’t laying next to each other to form the cohesive oval. But the rounded edges made me consider the spirit of Florence Nightingale and other nurses, the spirit of hospitality, and the spirit of living authentically in relationship and over meals shared.