Nana, TaTa and my Korean Uncle

A sad and forlorn nineteen year old Korean man showed up to our ranch on Guam in the 70s. He was a stowaway on a Korean Air Lines plane. He had no family and no friends. His home village was destroyed and burnt to the ground. When the plane landed, he managed to escape . Airport security tried to detain him but he was too quick and agile to capture. He hid in the jungle for a day, and walked for miles until he set foot upon our land. Tata, my grandfather immediately spotted him. He was so attuned to the land that he knew when a stranger was setting foot upon it. The look of pronounced hunger on the Korean man’s face did not go unnoticed by Tata. He spoke only Korean and Tata only spoke Chamorro, so they communicated via body language and hand gesticulations. Tata took this young man to Nana’s outdoor kitchen, where she fed him her special chicken soup. Nana’s soup was made with fresh chicken and vegetables, and the warmth of her soup would seep into the darkest and coldest corners of your soul. Every meal Nana made was healing magic. And she was in fact a healer. When Tata went back to work the Korean man followed him and did whatever Tata did. On his first day on our ranch he learned how to feed the pigs, feed the chickens plant coconut trees, and fortify fences. Tata knew this young man had no family, and he knew he was alone. He could see the deep sadness in his eyes. So he took him in. He became part of our family. He was kind, affectionate, and a very hard worker. When my family arrived on Guam for the first time, we wondered why we had a Korean Uncle. I finally asked my dad about Uncle Butch during my last visit, and as he laid out the narrative, I realized that my grand parents taught me alot about compassion. During the Vietnam war Tata gave permission to allow Vietnamese refugees to stay on our land. Every now and than a chicken or pig would go missing, because the refugees got tired of the American prepackaged relief food. When my uncle would complain about the refugees taking chickens or pigs Tata would say. ” Let them have a good meal. They have been forced from their homeland. We will get by and we have enough to feed everyone who is on our land. No one on our land will go hungry. ” Even though we did not speak Chamorro, Tata had a great relationship with me and my siblings. He would sing us songs while we walked on his back, his aching body needed daily massages, because he worked so hard and around the clock. Another thing he taught us was work ethic.
“Everyone must contribute. Everyone must do their part” He would tell us. I sure do miss my grandparents.


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