Jun Dishes

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Weird Father’s Day Gift Q&A


Better late than never…

I write all the time about myself so I guess my husband Davy surely deserves a Q&A blog of his own, for Father’s Day…

I tweeted this two years ago:

Well I finally got around to it two whole years later…

Here are most of the questions answered by Davy. FYI. I learned lots of new stuff about him too.


Davy: No, sorry.


Davy: I was in a very weird spot in my life at that time. I don’t regret things I’ve done in my life. But now my life has totally changed. I guess I would tell myself… Use your brain. Don’t let just having fun be the only thing that matters. Buy an apartment. Don’t wait for that subsidized housing stuff to become available. Just buy your own place now. Buy Apple stock, save more money and use your money more wisely.


Davy: Yes all the way in the beginning.


Davy: Jun checks out and appreciate other women with me [laughs], pointing out attractive women out to me sometimes. She is the least jealous person I know. She is secure.


Davy: Well, in general, there aren’t so many women working as dockworkers. In Ghent there is only one female dockworker.  Because working at in Ghent still means you have to have brute strength and endurance. Charging and discharging ships means serious cargo. I started out on the docks using my muscles a lot, but eventually went for training and licensing to operate heavy machinery. But there is some heavy physical labor required in Ghent. But in Antwerp, there are more women dockworkers. Because in Antwerp, most of the cargo come in containers. So machines can do most of the job. That’s not to say these women don’t use their physical strength when they have to. It is just not as common as it is in the Port of Ghent…


Davy: Day by day. It’s not 9 to 5. It’s around the clock. But it’s good money and this is one of the things working on the docs is known for. Dockworkers can go a week taking odd shifts at any time, without really seeing their spouses or children. Everyone and everything moved around according to my shift. I’m happy that Jun never lost herself and she can find her way, with or without me around. She fit into my life as a wife of a dockworker. I wasn’t sure if she could. Not all women can. It’s not an easy adjustment. It has to be a team effort. But there are so many dockworkers who work more than they sleep and save their money and buy a big fancy car. Or a house. I’m always happy for them. But it’s terrible some of these guys can’t really enjoy these things because it seems like they’re working nonstop. Lots of dockworkers also discover their wives have been cheating on them, and that just sucks. So. Yeah. [laughs] Day by day.


Davy: She leaves used paper towels all over the kitchen because she says she “only used them once to dry her hands after washing them at the sink.” She says they can be reused. So there are always paper towels everywhere.


Davy: I let her be dramatic. [laughs]


Davy: Not at all.

Davy: No.


Davy: Very.




Happy Father’s Day Davy.

I will try my hardest to be extra nice to you today.

Always dishing,




Dandelion Seeds


The fact that my son Noah will never get to meet my dad is one of the saddest realities I live with, in my weakest moments. The fact that my father never even had the chance to meet my little Noah is gut-wrenching to me, in my lowest of lows. For if I had to name the two biggest influences in my life? They would be my father and my son.

My husband Davy is my forever one. But I married him. I chose him.

I did not choose my father and I did not choose my son. That is blood. I am their blood.

My mother is the one who carried me in her belly and pushed me out into this world, but it is my father who shaped me most. My mother knows this. She loves this. Because, my father was unlike anybody in my life and this will be true forevermore. I know this. I love this.

Because you see, to know my father was to love him, the way you love the feeling of your feet touching the ground firmly when you jump off a swing. The way you love picking up where you left off in your favorite book. The way you love free-falling into your own bed after some time away, because there’s just no place like home. Steadfast. Solid. My dad.

And his presence was surely felt this April when my little family of three made our trip back home to New York, to be at my brother’s wedding. Noah played his part of ring bearer and flower boy to perfection. It was just about the most perfect day that 17th of April…


There were, however, countless loved ones in attendance who wished my father could be there, of course and especially my mother. But she didn’t need to tell us this. And we did not voice this sentiment to her either. We did not want to take her joyous day away…


But my mother shed not one tear on my brother’s wedding day, although I had, she refused to. She glowed. Her strength that day kept me strong too. I owed that to her.

Her baby boy was married. I was married. She said this out loud in Korean to nobody in particular, as we left the wedding hall, but I heard her and I know in my heart she was talking to my dad who was listening from above.

My mother carried that same glow when she joined me and Davy and Noah on our trip to the cemetery to see my dad, just a week later. We had never made it to the cemetery on our last trip back to New York in 2012. I’d regretted it immensely. But I knew it was time to pay my dad a visit, and for Davy and Noah to pay their respects for their first time.

I remember my stomach being in knots that morning, the 23rd of April, an even bigger knot in my throat. I couldn’t swallow, as hard as I tried, the significance of the day. I cried, so very much, as I prepared to walk once again upon the grounds where my father lay for the last 12 years.

I never did let Noah see me cry that day.

I owed that to him.


Noah held my hand and he listened intently as I spoke to him…

This is where we come to remember my papa, your haraboji, because he’s not here with us anymore. He’s so very far away that we cannot see him or touch him, I’d said to Noah.

I’d then picked up a dandelion from the plush lawn by my father’s tombstone. Because one of Noah’s favorite things to do is blow on them and watch the seeds fly away. So I handed Noah the dandelion as we crouched in front of my father’s grave.

If you blow on this dandelion the seeds will fly away and some will reach haraboji way up in the sky. That’s where he is. That’s where he will always be, watching over us. And he will always know that you are the one who has sent him the beautiful dandelion seeds, I’d said to Noah.

Maybe one day Noah will ask about heaven and hell. And maybe one day I’ll tell him about all that’s heavenly, and not. Or not. My faith has not been the same since I lost my dad. It was never as strong as I pretended it was anyway. And I don’t know if it will ever be strong again. It is why I choose not to raise Noah in the Christian faith though that’s how I was raised.

In that moment though, Noah’s eyes lit up. He blew that dandelion so hard that the seeds starting swirling around his face, tickling him. We laughed and stared skyward together, as the precious seeds floated higher and higher. It didn’t matter how far they made it. Noah was entranced with the idea that he could somehow connect with the man whom I’d just referred to as “my papa.”


We watched Noah run from spot to spot picking dandelions and sending seeds of love up to my father. He didn’t want to stop. Davy was surprised by how quickly Noah caught on to the idea of being able to reach my father. My mother beamed with pride. Her grandson was so expressive in his desire to be a part of my father’s world in that moment, and intuitive enough to know just what she, his halmuhnee, needed right then and there…


And in that moment, all the once-tangled and painful knots inside me unraveled and I knew I was right to have waited to bring these three loves of my life together to where my father rested.


It was a beautiful day, that day in April, visiting my dad. It was my very own happy Father’s Day. In Belgium, Father’s Day falls on the 12th of June this year, this Sunday, one Sunday before it does in the States. So I will be celebrating again and again. No tears. Just love.

So Happy Father’s Day to everyone, every day this month, every day of the year. Why not? For new fathers and grandfathers, fathers lost and dearly missed, or fathers found anew, fathers here and there and everywhere.

I feel you.

Loved. Cherished. Remembered.

I’m reminded always now, by dandelion seeds in the air…


As I finish this blog, I’ve received news that my brother is in the hospital and very sick. The doctors can’t pin-point the cause of his blood infection, but as of this morning he is out of the ICU and stable. I choose to believe this is my father watching over him. And though I wish I could end this blog on a lighter note, I have never been one to hide my emotions when it comes to my family. I ask that you keep my brother in your thoughts. Thank you everyone for your love.


UPDATE: Friday, June 10th. My brother has been released in stable health and has returned home to rejoin his new bride. I do not have all the answers, and maybe I never will, but all I need to know is that my brother is home again, even cracking jokes. The newlywedding can pick up where it was left off.


Always dishing,


Ten Father’s Days Later…


My father was born in the same year the Korean War ended in 1953, but he was not born out of love. His birth wasn’t even properly reported until six years later, because there were more important things going on in Korea. Children born out of wedlock were of no concern to a broken country.

My father was conceived out of need to pay the rent. As a result, his parents never married and still knew little about each other by the time my father was born. War-torn Korea had exposed jagged edges everywhere on the surface, but crime and compassion didn’t mix well beneath the surface and on the streets. My grandmother, who was alone for most of the war with no surviving family left afterwards, had simply given up her body for survival. She was a statistic, like so many others around her, and had become pregnant as a result.

Nothing came simply for the unlucky.

My grandmother never had fantasized notions of love and support, especially after watching her family and friends die or disappear completely during the bloody war. She hardened when she discovered she was pregnant, but she chose to keep her baby. Her scowl became permanent, and she always prepared for the worst for all the days of the rest of her life.

She never wanted to have to depend on any man again, and so she continued to gamble because she was good at it. She became notorious for hustling in gambling dens, and took home enough winning pots up until the very last day of her pregnancy. My grandmother built a nest egg for my father’s impending birth.

* * *

My father was born in the hut he lived in all his days in Korea. My grandmother named him Dong Ju. Song Dong Ju. Korean people use family names first…and always. Song was my destined family name from the day my father was born.

And so my dad grew up in that tiny hut, and sometimes his father slept together in the hut with them when he managed to find his way back from the soju house down the road. Soju houses were great to drink your sorrows away in, for just pennies, even if they were the last pennies to your name. There’s never been any real trace of my dad’s father in our lives, not even in photo. My dad told me not one story about his own father, sadly.

My dad was still a baby when his father died. He was too young to know that it happened in the middle of the night in a street brawl over money. So my father shed no tears for his dead father, and actually neither did my grandmother.

* * *

In 2004, my father died. I shed many tears for him, as did everyone who ever spent more than a minute with him. It’s been 10 years since I last got to touch him, and to hear his voice. If I could have just one minute again with him, all I’d say is, “Happy Father’s Day.”

* * *

Happy Father’s Day to all.

Always dishing,


Holding Hands


GelukkigVaderdag2013As some of you already know Father’s Day in Belgium was last Sunday. My family of three spent it eating and laughing and tiring ourselves out under the welcomed sun. We also ventured out to a local nature park with a zoo and plenty of paths to walk down.

Noah tried to out-walk his dad while hand-in-hand, and one day he probably will but not just quite yet…

Fast forward one week to today where it’s Father’s Day for most of the rest of the whole wide world, and my second Father’s Day this year. Last week I celebrated my husband Davy, and today Davy and I spent the better part of the day with Noah in our garden. Noah shines brightest when he’s out in the sun and fresh air.

Like, today…


In this moment I felt giddy right along with Noah and had an overwhelming feeling of relief. I say relief because I can’t think of a better word so it must be the best word to describe what it was. I felt relief knowing that on this Father’s Day my dad was looking down and feeling giddy with me. He must have because Noah’s purity in glee is infectious to everyone around him, especially to family.

I felt relief knowing that a handful of Father’s Days ago I’m not sure that my dad would have looked down and been happy with where I was…not financially or socially but in my soul. Some series of hard hits in my life had hardened me more than softened me, in the nine years my dad’s been buried. I know that he’s proud of me today on this Father’s Day even if he can’t be here with me physically, to tell me. I realize no matter how hard I’d become in times past, he was always proud of me but wondering when I’d let go of things and people responsible for hardening me.

This Father’s Day, he knows I’ve let go of a lot to be able to receive that much more that is important for any lifetime. My father was the kind of father who always held my hand for as long as I wanted him to even if his hand got sweaty or tired, especially when he felt helpless he couldn’t help me in times of pain. I found this kind of helplessness when my dad had been so weak and near the end, and all I could do was hold his hand until I couldn’t hold it anymore.

Now my days of hand-holding are with the hands of my husband and baby mostly, and walking forward but looking back and feeling more and more at peace. It’s important to look back over your shoulder sometimes, not to long for times past but to reflect on how far you’ve come. We truly are our own worst critics, and it’s not the worst thing to just take a minute and give yourself a break. I’m still learning to give myself more breaks.

I’m grateful for those readers who’ve shared their own life stories with me be it about good fathers or bad ones, or those who never knew their fathers and those who cherish grandfathers. If you need it to be it’s just a Sunday. This day means so many different things for so many different people, and I thank you for all making me more aware. Sharing is as sharing does…enjoy your Sunday.

Always dishing,


Fathers’ Days


Father’s Day.  Father’s Days.  Fathers’ Days.

I need to keep these straight for the next 500-or-so words.



Your Father’s Day may not be someone else’s Father’s Day because there are lots of different Fathers’ Days around the world.  According to Wikipedia Father’s Day falls on the second Sunday of June in Austria and here in Belgium, unlike in the U.S. and most other countries that celebrate it the third Sunday of June. There are some parts of the globe where Father’s Day falls in March or May or a number of other months which I never realized, but then again in Korea there’s no “official” Father’s Day or Mother’s Day but a Parents’ Day and also a Children’s Day. So growing up our family celebrated a lot, and Father’s Days were all about my dad.

After I lost my dad my first few Father’s Days were more like coping than celebrating, at least on the inside where nobody dared to look. These last few Father’s Days have been lighter in spirit with moments deep in thought. And tomorrow on Father’s Day in Belgium having my husband Davy to do the everyday things with every day as we raise our little Noah, is what I’ll celebrate.

Then next week, I’ll have the day to reflect and thank my dad in my heart for his patience in letting me work through these 9 years of Father’s Days without him. At first when I learned that Belgium’s Father’s Day fell earlier than in America I’d been skeptical, like I had a choice or voice in the matter, but today I’m realizing it’s apropos. My selfishness wins and I love having two Fathers’ Days to celebrate, but my selflessness also wins so tomorrow Davy will be told and shown how much he is cherished.

I’ll also remind Davy of how far he truly has come since those first first months of fatherhood where he did things like this:


I’m happy to report that Davy now changes Noah’s poopy pampers unmasked and unassisted, and even manages not to barf in his mouth when his finger meets some wet wayward poop. He and Noah have moved on to doing cooler things anyway, including experimenting with how much weight Noah can lift.


No joke.

~ Davy I love you, and Noah, and your love for Noah. You can hear it in Noah’s voice when he calls for you each and every time…papa. Gelukkig Vaderdag. Happy Father’s Day.

Always dishing,