I just found out that my aunt in Korea passed away, and I'm still in a state of shock. I'm feeling a little sick today, so I was resting at home and talking to Taer when my dad called. My mom is almost always the one who calls, the one who relays information through the family, but I didn't think much of the fact that my dad was on the other end of the line. He told me that we lost kun eemo today, and when he tried to pass the phone to my mom, she wouldn't take it. I could hear her crying. I feel so bad. I feel like I should do something, but I don't know what.
Kun means big, and eemo shows she's from my mom's side. (An aunt from my dad's side is called gomo.) So kun eemo was my mom's oldest sister. Because my mom was the youngest of six, that meant my kun eemo was a good 20 years older than my mom, and she was practically a second mother to her. My maternal grandmother passed away when I was in high school. I had only seen her a couple times, so while I felt the loss, it's nothing like now. Kun eemo felt more like a grandma to me.
She was the one who taught me to make dduk bokee when I stayed with her in Daegu. Every summer during college, I visited Korea and spent time with kun eemo. She taught me many more Korean recipes, in that way you can only learn in person, without measuring spoons and with the extra loving touch. She visited our family several times in San Francisco also, probably more than any other relative, and our kitchen was always alive when she was around. My mom seemed to have a little more energy and laughed a little harder whenever she talked to kun eemo. She also slipped into her country Daegu accent and manner of speaking, putting aside the proper Seoul way to talk. She slipped back into another sense of home, the one where my mom got to be the kid who was being taken care of for once, the one who was being nurtured.
Kun eemo loved to laugh. My mom used to urge her to get cosmetic surgery so she could see better out of her old, sagging eyes. Kun eemo would respond by pushing down on the skin of one of those drooping eyelids with her hand, shutting it completely. She would just laugh and laugh with that one shut eye, showing she didn't care about any kind of surgery.
I can't believe she's gone. She will be missed.