What’s in a name?

우리 할머니. 이기자.

우리 할머니. 이기자.

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


One thought on “What’s in a name?

  1. meesookw says:

    Thank you for giving a full attention to Halmoni !
    I bet no one has given ever that much attention and
    put genuine effort on meaningful dialogues in her life as a person!
    You makes her each day is special and uplifting !
    Salgu you are very gifted to releses a soul to be free:)
    고마워 그리고 사랑해 내 딸아 살구야,

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