Because you loved me, you chose my name. You were in Korea when you received a an airmail written by Mom. She was your Sugar. You named me Cindy Lu and you waited for my birthday. I was born September 7th, 1954. On that day, you were sent a wire via tap code noting my birth. When I was born, you celebrated in Korea … in a foreign country, at wartime & you were joyful.
You arrived home when I was two years old & held me for the first time. You loved your new life at home with Mom and me. Our family became solid. We lived with Grandma Mary & in the little township named Bellwood, which was built by our family of immigrants from Northern Germany by the Russian border. In Bellwood, I grew up with my Aunts, Uncles and cousins as neighbors. I walked to school with my cousins, who would stop by in the mornings to walk me to my kindergarten class at Roosevelt Elementary just down the street and around the corner.
You taught me to aspire to great heights. You expected a higher standard & expected me to do my best. When I did my best, you would raise the bar & challenged me to do better. You taught me that being firstborn is not a position of entitlement. You showed me how to always do the right thing. You impressed upon me that the right thing was not always the most popular thing. You cautioned that doing the right thing was never the easiest thing to do. Because you loved me, you explained to me that you & Mom would not always be with us & one day you would die. You assured me that there is nothing that could prepare me for that da6 & impressed upon me that no matter how or when that day came, I could never be ready for it. I would feel devastated. I would feel alone, but inevitably … I would be okay. I would be okay because I was loved & I would be loved, *Always*
Because you loved me, you engraved upon my heart that being firstborn can be one of the most difficult positions in a family; You understood this and had compassion for it. You empathized and spoke about a firstborn’s often & common nature; A firstborn challenges everything that crosses their path. They question everything and challenge the answers they receive. They question authority. Firstborns are independent. They are survivors. I learned to take responsibility seriously. They always ask *why*. Because you loved me, I learned that work is honest, honorable & required for everything. It was possibly more difficult and often disheartening but the rewards were great. When I experienced the sharp edge of disappointment, you taught me to get up and try again … and again and to keep trying until I became successful.
Then I have a memory. It is called, “Seven Stitches”. You see, when I was 3 years old, I was playing in the kitchen while Grandma made breakfast. She had just opened a can of coffee and began the percolator. The can landed on the floor and I gazed at it as it rolled by my path. I reached out for it and grabbed it in the wrong place … the rough cut interior where the can opener gave up its can’s contents & freshness. I had cut the palm of my hand deeply. Daddy, you took me to Dr. Koven’s where I cried as I received 7 stitches. I could not lie still as Dr. Koven struggled to place the seven stitches in my delicate tiny hand. I remember your yellow pressed button front shirt, the way our collar was crisp and stood clear & open along your jaw line. I remember the look in your crystal clear blue eyes. I saw love, worry, compassion & even though you had just spent a couple of years in Korea, I’ll bet that being there with me getting 7 stitches was the worst day of your life.
Today, I now have eleven stitches. I have added four more on my left hand this year. It happened this month, as I gazed into nowhere and grieved for your death, I sliced my left hand hard between my thumb and my index finger as I cut into 2 1/2 gallon water bottle. I was cleaning in your home & flushing the sinks and toilets. I saw the blood flowing and gazed at the wound, which was very deep. I could see my tendons, my muscles and the interior anatomy of my hand and was amazed. I didn’t feel any pain and noticed a palpable emptiness between my thumb and my forefinger as & I reached for the mesh bandages, calmly wrapped my hand, applied pressure & drove myself to urgent care. When I look back at that day, I am amazed at my clarity of action with instinct, but without thought.
Now I have eleven stitches. Oddly enough, I feel more connected & more grounded than I have ever felt in my life.
I have roots, I have foundation, I’ve had an amazing Mother, Father, Grandparents and I have always had a future.
I am fortunate. I am blessed …
Because you loved me.