Thursday, July 1, 2010


"halmuhnee" is how you say "grandmother" in korean. "wae halmuhnee" refers to one's materal grandmother.

two days ago, i lost mine.

my halmuhnee was an amazing woman whose kindness and love extended to every person she encountered. she had such a joyous spirit and never did i hear her utter a malicious word.

she encouraged each of us grandchildren and was so proud of our individual accomplishments. when peter and i got married, she was so excited that i was marrying a pastor (way more excited than i was!). she so genuinely loved the Lord and was an example to all of us in what it means to have unwavering faith.

she made the yummiest carrot cake and blueberry muffins and gave me all her old baking supplies when she and my grandfather left for the mission field in their sixties. she is the reason why i love baking today.

she never forgot a birthday and always showered us with love during her random phone calls to us, which were, in part, rather hilarious, because she never quite figured out the mystery of cell phones.

my grandma always struggled with her health, especially with her asthma, and a few years ago, a fall resulted in a fractured spine, and though the doctors hoped she'd be able to walk again, she didn't have enough strength to fully recover. she spent the last few years in a wheelchair and walker and slowly, her health deteriorated.

last week, things took a turn for the worse and on tuesday night, our family gathered around her hospital bed during her last hours. unfortunately, our two cousins from seattle were unable to be here, but we know that their love is here with us. it's funny how things worked out...peter and i were getting ready to leave from our summer retreat in lancaster, PA, and our cousins from philadelphia happened to be at the same retreat center as us, overlapping some of the days. when we got the call to come up, we were just about to head home to virginia from the retreat center, so instead, we changed our plans, loaded the boys up in the car and headed to new jersey. had we not been there together, we might not all have been able to get to the hospital in time. it's like the Lord was even orchestrating those little details for our family.

yesterday, i was working on the slideshow to be shown at the memorial service tonight. as i looked through the old photographs, i was so grateful that we could document her life through these pictures. this is why i love photographs -- they are, quite literally, memories captured on paper that we will continue to cherish long after the moments have passed.

here are some of my favorites:
my grandparents on their wedding day, 1953. so beautiful.

family portrait with my mom and uncles, a few years after coming to the states. maybe 1976?

not sure exactly when this was, but i think i'm a few months old in this picture, so probably late 1980 or early 1981. as you can tell, i was not the cutest baby (and i was continually reminded of this fact by my parents and uncles and aunts these past few days), but you can just sense the love that my halmuhnee had for me. i was her oldest grandchild and her only grandchild until my sister was born six years later. my parents and uncles and aunts also reminded me that because of that fact, i was the one that received my grandma's love the longest and for 6 years, i had that all to myself...

at seaside heights during the summer of 1981. doesn't my grandma look fabulous? and doesn't my diaper look incredibly swollen? clearly, pampers swimmers did not exist in 1981!

family portrait, circa 1985. my mom's hair is so freakin' awesome.

halmuhnee and her second grandchild, my sister. now *she* was a cute baby. i'm not insecure.

with my mom, sister, aunts, and cousin janice at longwood gardens. my grandma loved gardens.

with my philly cousins, circa 1996

after our traditional korean wedding ceremony, 2005

at my grandpa's 80th birthday, january 2009

our whole family was able to come together for this...words cannot describe how much i love this photograph!

i miss my halmuhnee and will definitely feel her loss. most of all, i'm sad she'll never meet carson, who is her first great-grandchild. and i'm sad our little choi boy will never know this amazing woman.

rest in peace, halmuhnee. we love you.


  1. Grace,
    I am so sorry for your loss.
    Your grandmother was beautiful!

    ps - I think you were a cute baby!

  2. A beautiful post for an even more beautiful woman. ((HUGS))

  3. I'm so sorry for your loss. Your grandmother sounds like a wonderful woman.

  4. Your grandmother was beautiful! I hope you and your family are comforted by the lovely memories you have of her. Sending good thoughts your way! Take care of one another.

  5. i'm sorry.

    what a wonderful collection of photos you have and what an awesome family legacy. hope you have had meaningful times with your family as you grieve your loss.

  6. Thank you for sharing your memories of your grandmother. She sounds like she loved life and lived it to the full. I am so sorry for your loss.

  7. What beautiful photos - such a lovely tribute to your grandmother!
    I'm sorry for your loss.

  8. I just happened to stumble on this post and want to say what a lovely tribute and collection of photos about your grandmother.


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