An Open Letter To My Parents – This is You. This is Love


November 6, 2019

They say you’re supposed to start with who and what you know. And who would I know better than you two?

These are my favorite photos of you guys, and this is you – celebrating the birth of your second granddaughter. I’m not sure why they’re my favorite. Maybe it’s because mom looks full of pure joy. And maybe it’s because it captures dad’s goofy demeanor. But this is you.

Dad, you are a man who wholeheartedly embodies sacrifice, and you have been my biggest protector the past 22 (almost 23 years). I used to chuckle when you would sign your text messages “❤️ pa,” but now it doesn’t feel like a true message from you without that signature.

I love that you get excited over the little things, like when you figured out how to attach a snowblower to your John Deere, or how the mountains peek through our trees as the seasons change.

You’re the first person I call when I’m in complete and utter distress. And even when you’re in court for work, I can always count on you to help me figure out my car troubles when you have a second in between cases. When I call you during the day and I ask if you’re with a client and you say no, I think you’re lying half the time because I know you always prioritize my needs over your own.

When I met my birth mother in Seoul when I was 18, you were the one that my body collapsed into when I watched her walk away for a reason.

And I’ll never forget the swim meet in Clovis, CA – it was my last race of the meet, the 100 back. I was sunburned, tired and weary. You promised a great dinner if I got a best time. I added at least 3 seconds. We had a great dinner anyway. And I’ll never forget what it felt like when you told me you were proud of me and I finally let myself believe it.  

And to let myself feel proud, empowered, and loved didn’t come easy. But when I finally quit swimming to pursue art and go all in – you told me you were proud of me, and I started to believe in myself a little more.

I think you’re crazy for waking up around 5 every morning. But I know that it’s because working hard is the only thing you know how to do. I’d like to think I got my work ethic from you.

Mom, you are a complete bad ass. I jokingly call you Sally the Savage – because you push me to boundaries I didn’t even know existed. Sometimes I sit on the phone with you and we don’t really say much, but it’s nice to have the company, even if you’re a thousand miles away.

I used to annoy you when I was little and call out “MOM” in a bunch of different tones until you’d come lay in bed with me when I was scared. You let me sleep in a sleeping bag next you after scary movies. And sometimes you’d even let me sleep between you and dad when I was really, really upset, the blanket not even grazing my skin because you two were too tall rolled over on your sides forcing the blanket to make a tent.

I’ve been heartbroken many times. Not romantically – but just with life’s seasons. And I can’t even count the amount of times I’ve called you in tears.

And out of each of those times, you’ve made me a stronger person:

“It’s okay to be sad. You can let yourself feel and be sad for a while. But you have to, have to, pick yourself up and show up even though you don’t want to. Focus on what you can control and ignore the rest. Get dressed, put your makeup on, and get outside. Go do something and force yourself to feel better, and eventually you will. It’s not going to be easy right now, but it will get easier and easier.”

I used to think that my happiness depended on circumstance and how other people treated me. And you’ve shown me that happiness has to come from within and then project outwardly into other aspects of your life. You have to depend on yourself to show up and fight for yourself sometimes. Growth is painful, but you have to lean into to the pain to reap the growth.

You’ve been a large supporter of encouraging me to pursue my passions and interests – sending articles you find online revolving around art and photography. I used to roll my eyes at all of the Facebook Messenger articles and messages, but it wouldn’t be a message from a mom if it wasn’t via Facebook, right?

You taught me early on that a large part of life is figuring out what you can do for others. There were times when you had to prioritize your volunteer work over family events or things here and there, but you’ve always made your priorities very apparent:




To have the mentality of, “How can I serve others today?” doesn’t come naturally to most, and to have you as an example has been nothing short of a blessing.

And this is you both – a perfect example of an imperfect love. You have set the bar incredibly high. I grew up watching you guys fight sometimes, but I also watched you work through tough conversations and disagreements and come out stronger and more supportive of one another.

I saw you make the daily commitment to choose love each day, especially on days that were tougher than others.

I watched you guys kiss each other goodbye and goodnight, which I used to think was gross as a kid, but now I understand is a staple to a lasting marriage.

I watched you work together to make plans and seriously take each other’s opinions into deep consideration.

In college I was able to look into the stands at pretty much every swim meet and see both of your faces, after you guys drove 13 hours each way for tiny dual meets.

And now you guys wake up at 2 am to drive me to the airport when I come visit every month.

But I think more than anything you guys have shown me that life is meant to be shared and celebrated.

The good.

The bad.

The in-between.

All of it.

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