This weekend I learned my grandmother’s name.
In Korea, you usually don’t ever refer to people who are older than you by their first name. It’s always: Aunt, or Uncle, or Principal. You get the idea.
My grandmother has always just been “Halmoni.”
Anyway, I’ve been spending a lot more time with my halmoni these days. I went to her house for Chuseok this year, which is the Korean equivalent of Thanksgiving.
Lately, I’ve been curious about my family tree. So I was asking her all these questions about my great aunts and great grandparents and what their names were. Then I realized, I should ask what her name is.
“What’s 할머니’s name?” I ask.
“이기자,” she says, with a little smile. “It’ll be easy to remember.”
Lee Gi-ja. It takes me a moment for it to sink in.
“기자, as in 사진기자?” I ask.
“Yes. I told you it would be easy to remember,” she says.
기자 in Korean means journalist. 사진기자 in Korean means photojournalist.
I want to be a photojournalist, and my grandmother knows. That’s why she told me it would be easy to remember her name. How can I forget the word of the thing that I want to be when I grow up?
Is it just a coincidence that my grandmother’s name means journalist and that happens to be my calling?
I think not.
“A coincidence is a miracle in which god chooses to remain anonymous.” – Author Unknown