Last week, the day had finally come when Aunt K had done what I had been waiting for her to do: She had ordered sumthin’ from our fam business and had left with it without paying.
Actually, she had paid $20 and said that she would pay the remaining $40 later. It was the sis who was present for the short-payment transaction.
the sis: “It’s sixty dollars.”
Aunt K: “I forgot that I had ordered this! I only remembered about it because I was just passing by! But I don’t have any money!”
The sis silently waited a second, then another second to pass.
Aunt K: “Okay, here’s twenty dollars. That’s all I have! I’ll pay you the forty later!”
Then she took her order and left.
I had always known that she would use that routine one day and had been waiting for it. Because in Aunt K’s mind, we’re supposed to give her whatever she wanted for free – because we’re family. For her, she sincerely believes that every single one of us in this household are supposed to help her out always, no matter what it may cost us – because she’s family.
It’s quite rare that she would leave our home empty-handed. The last 4 times that she had come by our home, she had left with:
1. a bread-making machine
2. a portable gas stove
3. a container of kimchee
4. bags of bar-b-cued meats (chicken, pork, beef, and sausages; all had been tiredly grilled by the sis)
In a previous post, I had shared about the time when Aunt K had stolen Mom’s Bible and my artificial flower bouquet. The most recent theft by this woman was packets of instant coffee.
Mom: “Make sure to put away the box of instant coffee. Just put only several packets on the table.”
me: “How come?”
Mom: “Because the last time Aunt K was here, I saw her grab a bunch of them and put them inside her bag.”
Wow, talk about being caught red-handed. But then again, she has no idea that she had been seen by Mom. So whenever we know that she’s on her way to our home, we’d start to scramble in order to hide all of the food inside of our kitchen.
The box of instant coffee, any snacks, breads, bananas, and containerized foods sitting on the kitchen tables would be shoved into the pantry or refrigerator. Then the jars of kimchee and refrigerated fruits would be covered with newspaper (to conceal them better) and plastic bags. All this because her most frequently asked question when she enters is, “Unnie! Do you have any food?! I’m hungry!”
“Unnie” means “older sister” in Korean. Although Aunt K is 1 or 2 years older (in her late 60s) than Mom, she calls her “Unnie” because Mom is married to her older brother.
That’s the usual reason why the younger sisters of married older brothers would refer to their sisters-in-laws as “Unnie”. But personally, I believe that she only calls Mom that in order to make her feel better, as she’d follow it up with another request for whatever she wanted again.
The worst-case scenario is when Aunt K would visit us and it was on the very day when Mom had made some fresh jars of kimchee. Possibly due to knowing that I would be the one to make a fit if she had asked for some on that very day, she would silently stare at it, and leave in silence. Then guaranteed, she would be back within 3 days’ time (usually after 2 days), in order to ask Mom for some of it.
As she left without asking for some one time, I had stated to Mom, “She’ll be back. I’d say, give her 2 days max, Mom. You gonna give her some when she does?”
Mom: “No way! It was so hard to make! How could I give her some of this, when it was so tiring to make?!”
Two days later, she was back. “Unnie!”, she hollered from our front door. Mom was in deep sleep in her bedroom. She was incredibly weary from having worked with us at our family business since early that morning.
But Aunt K didn’t give a crap. She just barged right into Mom’s bedroom, woke her up, and asked her to give her some of the kimchee. Mom opened her eyes and looked up at her. Then she quietly rolled over off of her bed. I couldn’t believe it. It took all that I had within me (by the mighty grace of God!) to not annihilate that woman for having the audacity to wake up Mom when was so incredibly weary, just to get the kimchee that she really believed she deserved to receive.
As Mom took out a container and put some of the kimchee inside of it, Aunt K stood closely next to her and said, “Put some more! Put some of the radish in too!” Mom quietly put in some of the big slices of radish.
Then finally, that woman left with what she had come for. Cheerily, she carried it to her car, without a care in the world. And obviously, not a care for weary Mom.
That moment reminded me of the 2 times when I had witnessed Aunt K “looking down” at Mom. Both of those times, she had come by our home when Mom was in the middle of doing a very tiring task. One of those tiring tasks was when we were re-tiling the front door area of our home. Them stone-like tiles were crazy heavy!
I got blisters on my right palm from having to cut so many tiles into smaller sizes, as we tried to make them fit into that area. For almost 3 weeks, we had been at it, all the way into the late evening. Often, we had worked all the way ’til around 9:00 pm, and got a whole buncha mosquitoe bites while we worked.
One late afternoon, here came that woman again. Mom was crouched on the ground, trying to fill in the grout between the tiles. We were all so weary, but didn’t wanna stop working until the dagnabbit home repair was finished and over with. Next to Mom was a chair, where Aunt K sat her rear onto.
On and on, she chatted away, as Mom worked on the ground next to her. Mom’s back and legs were weary, I was sure. She quietly worked, not even giving any answers to Aunt K’s questions or comments. As Aunt K yacked away, she was leaning over on the chair’s handle, and looking down at Mom the whole time. An offer to help? Heck no. This woman had never, ever offered to lend a hand. Finally, she had left, and we had later called it a night.
The other time that Aunt K had leaned on a chair and looked down at Mom was when Mom was scraping paint off of the floor outside. We had just painted the outside of our house entirely and Mom was trying to get all of the paint drippings off of the tiles on the side of our house. There Aunt K sat herself down on a chair again, and chatted away, like they were the best of friends.
Then suddenly, Aunt K asked Mom a question, which Mom actually looked up to answer her.
Aunt K: “Why are you working so hard for?”
Mom: “So that my kids don’t have to.”
Aunt K: “Oh.”
And then as if she hadn’t even asked the question at all, she continued yacking away about somebody else they knew, and the gossip that she had heard about them.
Some months ago, we had a small (involuntary) family gathering in our home. Because the sis’ window had been open, she had overheard Aunt K say to another relative of ours, “Make sure you pray for those two daughters in this house. Because they really need a lot of prayer.”
This past Christmas, she had come by our home again, just to do one thing: invite Mom and Pops to her church to attend a Christmas church service with her.