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59. Mother’s Reckless Driving

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My Story

2021. 5. 12.

My parents retired as the lease contract for the convenient store expired. They lived in a senior apartment in Van Nuys for a short period of time, then moved to Ventura. Some senior apartments are subsidized by the government. Seniors only pay 1/3 of their monthly income as rents, and the government pays for the rest. Some apartments are designated as subsidy housing. Some landlord designate few units of the building as the low income ones. My parent moved to an apartment with the government rent subsidy voucher.

 

Their first unit was on the 2nd floor. When I visited them, one of the kids had to carry me on his back. In few years, they moved down to the 1st floor. The unit had two bedrooms and small back yard. They got rid of the grass, made vegetable garden, and planted various vegetable plants.

 

Ventura is a coastal town. It is rather warm in winter and cool in summer. No need to have an air-conditioner. On cloudy summer day, you would need a windbreaker. 

 

They became Catholics after they moved to Ventura. I would have never imagined father would go to church. They joined the church senior group and made new friends. They also made frequent trips to Chumash Casino. They seldom talked about the money they lost. They only bragged about the winnings they made. 

 

For Korean seniors in America, various English notices are headaches. I used to handle the notices my parents received. Once they moved to Ventura, an hour drive from my house, I could not visit them every time they received the notice. I visited them once a month and took care of them. 

 

Father called me when he received a notice in English. He read it over the phone. He spelled the words he did not know how to pronounce. I could tell what the notice was for after the few sentences. Many of them were advertisements, and I advised him to throw them away. For non-urgent matters, I asked him to put it aside for my next visit. For urgent ones, I would drive on the week-end and took care of it. 

 

Father was not a good driver. One day, he got into a big accident. He hit a car, continued to move forward, and hit the signal light. They towed his car and he came home scared. I got a call from him. I went with Brian and took him to the hospital. It took him a month to recover from the accident. Mother felt he exaggerated the condition. He did not even go to the bathroom. He asked mother to give him a can to urinate. 

 

Few months after his recovery, he got a traffic ticket. He made an illegal right turn on red light. You were supposed to stop, check the traffic flow, and make the turn. He claimed that people went to the court and prevailed on traffic tickets. Old man did not listen to his kids. Nevertheless, he believed everything he heard from the others. 

 

I took a day off and went to Ventura court with him. A cop who issued the ticket came with the laptop and showed me the clip from CCTV. Father’s car sped up to the inter-section, never stopped, and made a quick right turn. 

 

Once the hearing started, the judge said he would have waived the tickets if father made an attempt to stop, but he never did. There was nothing he could do for him. I advised him father was collecting SSI, and asked him to lower the fine. The judge lowered the fine. Leaving the court house after paying for the fine, father still felt elated. 

 

Mother was never athletic. She had no choice but to learn to drive in America, but she was not a good driver. She never entered the freeways. She barely drove around the local streets. 

 

My brother, Daniel, who went to work for Hanmi Bank after the college, became Van Nuys branch manager. Mother moved all her accounts, business and personal, to Hanmi Bank. She had check cashing business at the store. On Friday, pay day, she had to go to the bank several times to make the deposits and withdraw cash. 

 

One day, she broke glass door and drove into the bank. She continued to step on the gas instead of the break. Not only her arm was broken, but her pride and confidence in driving were also broken. 

 

Few weeks later, she got a letter from DMV suspending her driver license. She could have taken the exam and got her license back. She had no will to try it and never drove again. 

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