Her Green Thumb

My halmuhnee was tough. 

Just barely taller than me at 5’1″ 

She’d straight up yell at you in front of the whole neighborhood if you weren’t acting right.

Other days she would just laugh so loud and sing songs

She loved being outside gardening or walking around the neighborhood, Salvation Army, Home Depot, Mr. Chris’s burger spot, and bus stops. 

She would buy flowers and succulents

Plant them all around the house

Onto the green belt

And then watch General Hospital while knitting. 

She’d make the whole neighborhood fresh cut fries

And fried dumplings. 

Then yell at me out of her bedroom window, topless, and without shame to come in the house.

I wouldn’t though, I’d keep playing until she’d come out of the house topless to drag me into he house herself. 

When she moved away, I was so heartbroken, I slept with my parents on their bedroom floor for some time. 

I would lay at night crying because I wanted her to be home,

Yet I didn’t visit her as much as I wish I could/should/would. 
I’ve been gardening and making little succulent pots and terraniums 

Thinking about how she would grow beautiful things. 

Her last few years, she wasn’t strong enough to go to church everyday, but she would walk down stairs from her apartments with her cane and go to the Home Depot dumpster to rescue any succulent they threw out, bring it home, care for it, revive it and have a balcony with wall to wall pots of every color and kind of juicy succulents. 

And I feel it too. 

Watching things grow and change right before your eyes is amazing. 

It makes you feel alive 

And you can really appreciate the simple part of basically just living when you’re growing and taking care of something. 
I suck with dates but I’m pretty sure it’s been 5 years since I saw her physical body, but she sure does take some mind to visit me in my dreams occasionally and tell some of her wisdom to me. 


My grandma sang songs each waking day till the moon loomed over our house. 

And she  danced to her own rhythm 

Each morning I would hear her chirp her melody as if it was spring all year round in our house. 

But one spring she grew quiet and  forgot who I was, and forgot who she was, and her magic seemed to fade and I would always take a deep breath before going to see her and leave feeling guilty for not wanting to stay. 

She stayed silent a lot longer than anyone expected her to, 

But she was waiting for people to come and sing to her. 

And when they did, she cried tears that had dried up years ago 

And her skin turned white and she  flew away to her love like a dove at dusk. 

Now I only see her when I lift the veil to that place where only the moon shines, but she’s still dancing and singing and telling me to sing my song too!

Dedicated to Halmuhnee 



A fortune teller gave me my Korean name Dah-Hee. During lunch with my Dad, I learned the meaning and how I attained my name. My Dad took a 15 year sabbatical and took to gardening, singing, and dancing. After school he’d have lunch ready with a story about his past. He is an amazing storyteller although it’s unclear how much of it actually happened and how much is a fancy from his imagination. Regardless of the validity, the point is always honest.

“How come no one calls me by my Korean name.”

“Your name means full of laughter. Uh, Halmuhnee, She bought your name.”

“How did she buy it?” My grandma was a very devout Christian. She became born again during a time in Korea it was dangerous, but her feet also never uprooted from the soil of her land either. She was a strong woman and God was not stopping her from talking to fortune tellers because she was a woman of spirit.

“When you were born, she went to the best fortune teller and bought your name. The name is good. It’s a beauty. It matches you too. The name Hannah I got from my best friend’s, friend’s daughter. Aw she was sooo cute.” He likes to slur and draw out his word to emphasize how he really feels, which makes sense because I think the Korean language is really expressive. A statement and question only differ by intonation.

My Halmuhnee, the woman who loved to sing, dance, juggle, cook, and tell stories, taught me life. She named me by buying a proper name for me, which suits me really well. I laugh. I laugh with my mouth open and eyes closed. I laugh through life. Happiness with teary eyed laughter, sadness with pained soft laughter, and anger with burning eyed laughter, I laugh. Either the prophet was really prophetic or it was the name which was, but I look up to heaven because I always give thanks to Halmuhnee for having the wisdom for knowing and carving an illusive road in the right direction. So give thanks and Bless.