Friday, May 20, 2011

Beginning ~ with an enigma

Please Look After Mom ~ by Kyung-sook Shin, 2011, fiction (South Korea)
"It's been one week since Mom went missing."
This sentence drew me in.  I would be frantic if my own mother had been missing a whole day, much less a week.  As a matter of fact, we WERE frantic when Mother "went missing" in the mid-1990s.  I was many hours from home when my sister decided Mom, who lived with me, didn't really have Alzheimer's and was "just being ornery."  She had kept mother for over a month while I was fulfilling my residency requirements that summer at the Drew Theological School in Madison, New Jersey.  I would be arriving home on Sunday evening, after stopping along the way to visit my seminary friend Nancy in Pennsylvania.

On Saturday evening, however, I found out that Mother was home alone.  I made several phone calls, trying to take care of her long distance.  On Sunday morning, she didn't answer the phone.  I didn't visit Nancy's church and hear her preach, but instead, set out for home, "flying low" on the Interstate, worrying about Mom.  When I crossed from Pennsylvania into West Virginia, I pulled off the Interstate to grab lunch and to call home.  That was before I had a cell phone, but there would have been huge gaps in coverage between cities, anyway.  I was frantic about Mother and angry at my sister for not taking care of her for one more day.  Where was she now?  What had happened?

When I called home, my brother answered, saying Mother was missing.  It didn't occur to me until I was back on the road and speeding south again to wonder how my brother had gotten into my house if Mother wasn't there to let him in.  I learned later that he, also unable to reach Mother by phone, had driven across town ready to break into my house, if necessary.  Instead, he found the front door unlocked.  It turned out that he was one of about six people who had offered to take Mother to church with them, but she had gone with the ones who offered to take her to breakfast, since they showed up first, naturally.  She had apparently forgotten about all the others.

One of my daughters had left her husband at home to tend to their children and was rushing to my house to help in the search, when it occurred to her that perhaps grandmother was at the church on Signal Mountain, where I was the pastor, even though it was not close to the house.  My daughter called home and her husband found the phone number, diverting my daughter to that church where — yes! — Mother was found.  Mom's plaintive question:  "The police are looking for me?  What have I done?"

People from several churches had joined in the search for Mom.  My brother had gone door to door in my neighborhood, asking if anyone had seen her.  She was not missing for a full day, but long enough for me to relate to the family in this book, searching for their Mom in Seoul, South Korea.

a real-life

When I clicked the last button on Thursday evening to schedule this Book Beginnings to post itself at 5:20 a.m. on 5/20/11, I checked my email and discovered a missing mom on my neighborhood listserv:
My mom went missing this past Monday, 5/16/11 has not been seen or heard of since.  A photo and description of her is attached.  She was driving a silver Honda Accord.  Please pass this on to anyone and everyone that you may, and help me spread the word.
Thank you.
Matt Williams
I can't figure out how to link to the PDF photo or insert it here, but this is the information on the flyer:


Nancy Williams
68 Years old 5’4”
Please contact East Ridge Police Department with
any information.
Last seen in 2002 Silver Honda Accord 4door EX
Tennessee license #NR4RR the vehicle has a large
antenna mounted on rear bumper

This meme is hosted by Katy at A Few More Pages. Share the first sentence or two of the book you are reading. Then, share your impressions of that beginning. Click this link to see what others say about the books they are reading this week.


Ann said...

Cripes! That's quite an opening line - and an interesting cover as well!
Here's mine:

Laurel-Rain Snow said...

There is nothing that tugs at the heart more than a missing loved one. Books about missing people are sure to grab me and reel me in. Thanks for sharing this excerpt, and your own story.


Tales of Whimsy said...

O wow. That definitely got me too.
Great one!

If you have a chance, check out my BBF:)

Helen's Book Blog said...

A missing mom! That's scary. I hope the book is a good one. I cannot imagine your fear when that happened with your own mom!

Bev Hankins said...

It's awful to have any family member missing--especially when you're not sure they are able to take care of themselves.

A very attention-grabbing first line!

Here's mine:

Katy said...

I've been intrigued about this one. Isn't it amazing how one line can set off a whole 'nother line of thought? Thanks for sharing your story, and thanks for participating in Book Beginnings!

Susan Tidwell said...

Hi Bonnie, what a story about your mom, and what a terrible disease - Alzheimers. I am glad you found her safe and sound.

I wonder if you finished this book, I was just looking at it online at the library.

Hope all is well with you - stay cool!

Bonnie Jacobs said...

Yes, Susan, I completed this book in a short time and rated it 8 of 10, which means it's a good book. If I haven't written a review of a book, for this year (at least) you can find how I rated it by looking at my first post of the year:

Please Look After Mom ~ by Kyung-sook Shin, 2008 (translation 2011), fiction (South Korea), 8/10

Helen's Book Blog said...

I just read your comments on my post about this book. I think I wasn't in the right place to read this book back when you originally posted about it in 2011. But, now that my mother is older and beginning to show signs of aging (nothing serious, but changes), I relate more and really liked the book.