aunts and uncles


artist: Lee Me Kyeoung



Apparently, Aunt K is now racking in a good amount of income with her new job of being a taxi driver. A couple of folks had mentioned about that being the case to me some weeks ago. “Now that your Aunt is earning a lot of money…”, they had started their sentences to me.

Aunt K is my Pops’ younger sister, who is now in her mid-60s. She had actually worked as an independent taxi driver before, about a decade ago. I think she had followed in the footsteps of my uncle, my Pops’ younger brother, who was also a taxi driver before she was.

Both of my Pops’ younger siblings have been dependent hardships for our family for years. Meaning that they’ve always needed our help, whether money-wise, shelter-wise, or whatever else-wise. Even though the uncle lives in another continent oceans away, he still calls us to ask for money. Sure, he doesn’t outright say it to us like, “Can you send me some money?” But would instead say on the phone, “Oooooh!…now that my wife is gone, I’m so all alone! And I don’t even have any money!” He’d repeat that line more than once and that’s when my Mom feels she has to answer him that we’ll be sending to him some money via Western Union the next day.

For this reason, we are so thankful that our home phone number had recently been changed because I had changed phone companies. It wasn’t intentional. I was just changing our phone, internet, and cable servicing company to a cheaper one. But had I realized that we’d get this much temporary relief from those two relatives’ phone calls, I would have changed our home phone number sooner.

Even worse for us than the uncle’s asking for money is the lousy hours that he’d always call our home. He’d always call between the hours of 11:00 pm and 5:00 am. Those are the hours when we’re all either in deep sleep, or just about to wake up to begin working at our family business. No matter how many times I’ve kind of hollered on the phone what time he was calling us (at an ungodly hour), he completely ignored me, and kept asking for me to give the phone to my Mom – even if she was asleep.

(This post was actually supposed to be on Aunt K, with just the mention of the uncle in regards to his having been a taxi driver as well. But hello, it appears this story has taken a detour.)

It really stinks how both the uncle and Aunt K constantly ask where my Mom is and for us to give the phone to her because she’s the one they can somehow eventually “pressure” to give them what they want. For me, what’s most rotten about their constantly asking for my Mom, is the fact that they just about ignore my Pops completely. It’s him, they’re related to, not my Mom, I’m always tempted to remind them by asking them, “Don’t you want to ask how your brother is doing?!”

It’s really odd how the relationship is with this uncle and our family. Several years ago, I thought we’d never hear from him and his 2nd wife again. I, of course, absolutely didn’t mind that at all. Because they were crazy people. Sure, I myself am absolutely crazy also. But they were both, back then, vicious crazy.

The last time we had talked was over the phone about 5 years ago, with his wife swearing and yelling at me, and then hanging up the phone on me. She had yelled that she would come and kill me if her husband died because it was going to be all my fault. Then she had called me back, had swore some more, had threatened me again, and then had hung up on me again. At that time, my uncle had recently had a heart attack and had gone off-island for some treatment for the swelling on his legs.

Let me backtrack a bit. This uncle had moved to live in the States (where he now lives again, except in a different state) after getting married to his first wife. But when his two children were about middle school ages, his wife had left him with their children.

Some years ago, he had asked me to try to look for his two children for him, after he had learned that I had been successful in finding Aunt K’s son. I asked him the usual details needed to do a person search on the Internet: their names, their birth dates, and (the gold treasure of all search information) their Social Security numbers, if he happened to know them. He didn’t know any of that information. Not even the spelling of his children’s names in English. Carumba.

With nothing to go on, I told him that I really couldn’t help him at all, considering that I didn’t even have their names, hello. Maybe he thought I had connections with the FBI or friends in high places. I was just really relieved that he didn’t ask me to continue searching for them. I think he didn’t ask me again because he was afraid of being caught by his 2nd wife for trying to search for his children.  They’d be in their late-30s now, I believe.

When the uncle was about to get married to his 2nd wife, this about 15 years ago, I think. This was back when my Pops had his first stroke and could still talk. I was living elsewhere at the time, and it was the sis who was back home again, in order to watch over our parents while I was gone. She had filled me in about the day when the uncle had brought to our home his new wife-to-be.

She was in her late 40s and was wearing a really short mini-skirt. It was so short, that she had kept having to pull it down, as she was sitting down in our living room to greet our Pops for the very first time. Our Pops didn’t care who in the world his brother was going to marry, but was just very thrilled of the fact that a woman was wanting to marry his brother at all. (This is me being honestly unfairly judgmental, but to this day, I’m still very surprised that he had been able to remarry, and think of it as such an immense blessing from God that he had been able to.)

Of course, the first question on our minds was if she was just marrying him for a Green Card. But of course, nobody dared to ask that question. After their marriage, she was definitely in the relationship for keeps. She had apparently come from a family background with a good amount of finances, that she was able to travel back and forth to see her family back home often, begin a new business (for the uncle to quit working as a taxi driver), and had also purchased their new home to live in.

I don’t know how either side broke the ice, but my Mom had begun to talk to the uncle and his wife again about 5 years ago. However that had happened, the uncle and his wife had come to visit our home. The day they came over, my Pops and I were both home. Of course, I was curious to know the reason for their wanting to be in good relations with us again (what they wanted from us), but had kept my thoughts to myself.

Their visit was somewhat brief (more than 3 minutes is too long for me, of course). They looked over our very small humble home and the uncle’s wife asked if she could use our bathroom. When she came out, she asked me about the bouquet of artificial flowers displayed in our bathroom. Because I knew that her small business has to do with crafts, I wasn’t surprised that my flower bouquet in there had caught her eye. I told her about how I had put it together myself, by continually adding to it any pretty artificial flowers that I’d see in stores through the years. I used to have two of them displayed in our home before, but now we only had this one, I explained to her.  (Will mention more about where the other one went in a later post.)

“Do you like it? Do you want to have it?”, I asked her. She looked like she really, really did. So I went in the bathroom and brought it out. I can’t remember what else I had given to her, but remember having to pull out the large pretty gift bags that I had been saving to use for such occasions as that one. As they were walking out our front door to their car, she carried the gift bags of stuff, while balancing my large flower bouquet in her hands. Then she said, “You know, I had thought that you would be such a stingy person. But now I see that you’re not.” Then she kind of laughed a little bit and got into the car with the uncle.

That’s when I had remembered about my Mom’s telling me this woman’s comment to her. Because I hadn’t been present when she had come to visit our home to introduce herself to our family, I had gone to her place of business one day, because I had been in the vicinity. I introduced myself to her and we had had (what I thought was) a very friendly chat. But some days later, my Mom told me that this woman had told her that I had greeted her very improperly. I couldn’t help but be in utter shock, because I had recalled our having a “friendly parting” after my visit to her business and our short chat together. But apparently, my greeting had not been up to par for her, that she had considered me to be a disrespectful person – and a stingy one too.


To be continued.




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