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Tears are a Manifestation of True Gratitude

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Though I was born and raised in Canada, my blood runs Korean. Maybe not 2018 Korean or even 1998 Korean. More like 1970s Korean immigrant looking to survive and build a life abroad.

There’s something about the journey of moving to a foreign land and starting from bare bones nothing to creating an independent and sustainable existence through blue collar labour that I viscerally connect with in a way that I don’t believe I can encapsulate with words.

At heart, I am the child of immigrant Korean parents who worked 14-hour days at a gas station and a variety store to put food on the table. I am the nephew of immigrant Korean aunts and uncles who spent many of their best adult years perspiring in dry cleaning shops to raise their children and support aging parents.

The work that such people put in daily, the obstacles they face in not being on equal ground in ability to communicate thoughts and feelings, and yes, the discrimination they sometimes face because of the colour of their skin and their accented English - these are just a few realities of this existence that I deeply identify and connect with.

The Korean words in the image above say “noohn moo rhee goh mahp dah.” This was written to me in a message from a fellow Korean tennis parent who lives in another part of Canada. Though some of the meaning is lost in translation, I take the essence to be this: Tears are a manifestation of true gratitude.

All of us know what it is to say thank you and to really mean it. How often are we so overcome with gratitude that it manifests not in words but in heartfelt tears? Such moments take me down on my knees.

I couldn’t bring myself to send a reply in mixed Korean and English to this father of three who I know works incredibly hard with his lovely wife to support their children and to care for aging parents. My Korean language skills are not good enough to express my gratitude and the connection that I feel with his family’s existence.

I can only hope that he knows.

 
 

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