I believe I have the strongest and the most respectable mother on earth. She is a single parent and I am her only child, so there are only two of us in our family. But although my mother is my only immediate relation, I still consider our family complete because she plays different roles.
My mother is my father who works hard to support me financially. Like a pine tree, she is strong and full of fortitude. Whenever I get weary with the different people I deal with, I can always count on her to be the same loving mom who never gives up.
She is my sister, to whom I can tell everything under the sun—all of my troubles in my love life, friends, academics, and spiritual life. The reason I can tell her everything is that she is always on my side. Although sometimes she gives me sharp, somewhat hurtful, advice, I know that it will make me a better person. Sometimes I don’t even have to tell her anything; she just looks at me and knows immediately there’s something bothering me.
My mother is my brother who protects me from all the dangers that surround me. I remember when I was little, we’d be walking on rough roads and she’d pick me up and carry me on her back for my safe passage. She taught me to be street-smart, and she also taught me how to ride a bicycle. I feel like I can travel the whole of Korea on my bicycle because of her.
She is my grandmother who always has her arms open for me to hide and cry in when the world hurts me. She is also my grandfather who dotes on me. When she sees delicious food and nice things in a store, she buys the stuff, not for herself, but always for me.
When I was growing up, I could not understand why my father would leave my mother five days before I was born. Even harder to accept was the fact that I have brothers and sisters with different mothers. But what I could not understand the most was how my mother survived it all, even with my father leaving so many debts for her to pay. All his siblings, my aunts and uncles, turned their backs on us. Soon, my mother lost all the money and buildings she owned in Korea. Later, she found out that since the very beginning, my father just wanted her money, because she was one of the richest single women in her hometown.
My immature perspective prevented me from understanding all these at the time. I could not understand how, despite everything, my mother could forgive my father. She told me she could not have done it without God’s grace. She said she realized that she, too, was a grave sinner but God forgave her, anyway. That’s why she forgave my father. Because of her example, I learned to forgive my father, who is now in prison. I pray for him every day.
My mother helped me realize that God is amazing, and that he has a plan for us. We may have been materially poor, but we became rich in our hearts. I came to understand those fatherless children who are having a hard time without a male figure to look up to in their childhood. My mother became a person who came to understand other single parents, and she helps them as much as possible and supports them through prayers. Through the grace of God, we are able to help the needy kids in the Philippines and Africa through World Vision.
However, we don’t have enough money. My mother runs a clothing shop, which earns just enough to make ends meet. But she was able to send me to the Philippines to study. I’m so thankful for my mother who still financially supports me even if I’m here in the Philippines. I believe it’s a miracle that I’m studying abroad. Hopefully soon, I will be speaking and writing fluent English.
My mother made it possible for me to dream for my future. All of my friends in Korea have become factory workers. It was also expected of me to become one. I grew up in a rural area in Korea called Nonsan City. A student like me normally goes to professional high school, where one can learn certain vocational skills before going into factory labor.
I had such a difficult time in elementary school, and my grades were very low. I was starting to lose hope, but my mother continuously prayed for me. She wanted me to have an education suited for me, so she sent me to the Philippines. She had to wait, however, for five years before she could make that happen.
All the while, she kept telling me that I am her dream. Considering the reality that I am the dream of someone I love the most, I’ve really wanted to lessen the burden on her. Her unconditional love sometimes makes me want to cry. There were times that her shop had to be temporarily closed because she could not pay the rent, but somehow she still managed to send me financial support. After some time, she revealed to me her true financial situation, and now I want to alleviate her burden of supporting me. I want my mother to retire and live the rest of her life in peace (she’s 60, by the way), and the only way I can do that is if I can support myself.
My mother inspires me to persevere in studying here in the Philippines. I have had a hard time adjusting to the culture, the climate, the people, and most especially, the language. My English and Tagalog are still not perfect, but my mother has helped me in some way in getting along with new people. She taught me the language everyone understands: the language of love.
Grace Choi, 20, is a student at the University of Asia and the Pacific.