My dad has been working for the past six months or so on a musical that he wrote himself as a fundraiser for the subdivision my parents live in. They live in a community of condos (in Johnson County, Kansas) that is mostly inhabited by elderly people. It’s not “officially” a retirement community, but when I walk around there, I hear the theme to The Golden Girls in my head.
My mom was asked to be on the board of directors of the subdivision, and ever since then, my parents have been actively involved in doing everything from getting a recycling bin for the neighborhood to this musical. I’ve been happy that they’ve been more involved in the community, since in the past my parents liked to envision themselves as country recluses (is it any wonder why I used to fantasize about going away to boarding school as a child??).
It sounded very much like a sitcom to me . . . my father sitting at a piano, surrounded by white-haired ladies, singing a parody-version of “Start Spreading the News.” My mom has also been in a long-running feud with the former president of the board–a woman who happened to have a leading role in the musical. It sounded to me like either a sitcom, or Waiting for Guffman. (In fact, my parents’ lives seem to eerily reflect all of Christopher Guest’s films . . . . they went through a phase where they were really into dog shows [Best in Show], and they were also big folk music buffs [A Mighty Wind].)
This weekend was opening night, and my mom called me, telling me breathlessly that it had been a huge success, and everyone had so much fun. They sold out this weekend’s performances, so they decided to have two more performances next weekend. Hearing their voices filled with so much joy made me wish even more that I had been there. I told my dad that I was proud of him, and this, according to my mom, was the best part of the weekend for him.
Even though it often feels like my parents and I originated on different planets (let alone continents), there are times when I am reminded that no matter how strange, my family is still my family. And we love each other . . . in a way that has evolved over the years and is kind of difficult for me to explain to other people. (Those of you who know my parents probably have a better idea . . . .)
I still have moments when talking to my mother causes me to inwardly scream and think to myself, “Choose your battles.” But as the years have passed, I have matured, my mother has matured (my dad is somehow always the same–God bless him, he’s a simple man), and we’ve become friends. They may never understand me on the level that I wish they would, they may never visit Korea, etc., but we’ve reached the point where they accept me and want happiness for me (minus the conditions that used to be attached).
Maybe I could follow in my dad’s creative footsteps and craft a Christopher Guest-style pseudo-documentary of growing up as a Korean adoptee in the Midwest . . . .