Framed picture of Grandmother

A framed picture of my grandmother.
A framed picture of my grandmother.

In the hearts of my family’s Buddhist culture rests a cherished object: a wooden framed picture of my paternal grandmother. As a family of devout Buddhists, the cherished frame holds more significance as it connects us with our grandmother, who has passed away. Migrating to America, my grandmother and family longed for the financial possibilities and new beginnings the United States could provide. At the core of this story is the gratitude to my dead grandmother, who took the first step of migration, paving the way for the rest of the family. As I admire the framed wooden picture of my grandmother, I am reminded of her story and that she is the root of our family's migration. The first destination of my family’s migration was Hawaii. My five year old father and my dear grandmother migrated due to familial struggles in business. My dad later returned to Korea, only to face challenges reminiscent of my grandfather’s past, which led him to migrate to the United States, paving the way for a new family chapter. Since it is easy to forget to be grateful for what we have and where we came from, we perform a Buddhist ancestral rite called Jesa. Once a year my family gathers around a table filled with all sorts of food offerings, with the wooden framed picture of my grandmother hung up on the wall. We offer prayers and ask for a blessing to our future. In these moments I feel a strong connection, reassured that she will always be watching over me from above, protecting her family. 

Place(s): Korea, U.S.

– Ahrin Ryu

Relationship:  Grandchild of im/migrant Grandchild of im/migrant