Monday, December 14, 2009

Video of terminally ill mother in law

Blogger just ate my original of this post, grrr. I'll try to recreate it. Hard to do once the catharsis is spent.

Apologies in advance for not sharing the video I'm discussing with you. Too private, I'm afraid.

I've been back in the States for a couple of weeks now. We went to Korea to visit my terminally ill MIL, before it's too late. Due to creeping dementia caused by an aneurysm, she doesn't even know she's sick. Fortunately she is surrounded by a large, loving family, many of whom are medical professionals. She won't lack for any comfort, physical or emotional, in her final months.

I took a lot of video of her while I was there: at family gatherings, in church, and just puttering around at home. I tried to get scenes of each of the grown children spending time with her alone, but didn't quite succeed. Hope no one feels left out. I've asked for old family photos from them too, to make a montage out of. (Costco nearly ruined the still photos I took on this trip, but that's another post.) I don't speak Korean, so I had a hard time anticipating where to point the video camera. But I hope I succeeded in capturing some good memories for the in-laws. I've only ever met Omoni (respectful Korean term for mother) on five visits. I might be the one with the only video footage of her, though; big responsibility.

There are two especially poignant scenes in the footage I've got. One is at church. All the family gathered from all over Korea to sing together. We were ostensibly singing to the congregation, to celebrate my family's visit, but we were really singing goodbye to her. As the camera pans back and forth, many singers can be seen dabbing their eyes. The actual farewell later, as we were setting off for the bus station, was anticlimatic by comparison.

The other scene was later, at Omoni's house. My two children, no longer quite so small, laid their heads in her lap, at my urging. She started patting their backs and saying "Jam-ja, jam-ja, jam-ja..." "Sleep, sleep, sleep". Just as she had done tens of thousands of times long ago with her own children, and with the grandchildren she raised, while the grown children were off pursuing their degrees and their careers. "Jam-ja, jam-ja, jam-ja..." I'm almost tearing up just typing about the sight. It will make a great coda for the finished film.



  1. I can remember my mother in law dying of cancer, a process that took months and months and months of us rushing to hospital, then hanging around, saying 'goodbye', then watching her rally, leaving, getting back to the routine and then the call in the night - she's sinking!
    At least she has that precious time of being with her loved ones, in her house, still part of the life...
    My own eyes are tearing up as I write this.
    I'm sure your video is going to be a precious keepsake for future generations.

  2. Thanks for the kind comment & sharing the memory.


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