Holding My Mother's Hand
A Reflection on Love and Family
As I clasped my son's hand, my thoughts drifted back to my mother. In contrast to the orientalist stereotypes that exist in the Western mind, my mother was a woman of great warmth and affection. I, too, am just as affectionate with my son, and I inherited this quality from my mother.
However, as a young boy, I was the one who resisted holding her hand or embracing her. It was a reflection of the rigid Western masculinity that I absorbed after moving to the United States, desperate to fit in with the white boys who tormented me for being Asian and "effeminate."
Though I am not a man of faith, my mother was devout and would take me to Mass. It was the one place where she knew I would hold her hand because it was part of the service.
She held my hand for longer than required and would give it a long, hard squeeze when it was time to let go. As a child, I didn't fully comprehend the significance. However, as I grew older, I began to understand the depth of emotion and love behind those squeezes. For my mother, Mass was a chance to hold her son's hand.
My parents' church was predominantly attended by Korean elders, who sat in the same seats every week. When I returned home to visit, I always made a point to attend church with my parents and sit in the designated spot they held for me. When my father passed away, I sat in his place and held my mother's hand.
When my mother passed away, my wife and I took our place in their seats. We held their friends' hands tightly and shook the hands of all the other elders in their place, and they regarded us as though we were my parents. It was a continuation, a connection, a communion of family and friends.
Should my son happens to hear that boys don't hold hands, I'll tell him this story and how he's not only holding his mother's hand and mine, but also those of his grandparents, great-grandparents, uncles, aunts, family friends, and his entire legacy. And without shame or judgment, that boys do hold hands.
(If you like my work, upgrade your subscription. You can also support me on Patreon or make a one-time donation on Ko-fi. Find Southpaw at its website. Get the swag on Spring. Also check out Liberation Martial Arts Online.)
Liberation Martial Artist 🥊 is reader-supported. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.