Then tragedy struck.
In many ways, my mother is the stereotypical Asian mom. Forty-five years ago she immigrated to the United States with my father, a physician. A classic homemaker, she spent her days raising my brother, sister, and me. In the evenings, after my dad returned home for work, she would take care of him.
Growing up, my mom was my protector. When kids would call me racist names and threaten to beat me up, it was my mother who came to my rescue. This 5'1” Korean immigrant, who spoke broken English, would stand up to the biggest bullies in my elementary school.
Several years ago I received a call from my father. My mom had exercised in the early evening and then began to feel short of breath. My dad rushed her to the emergency room. By the time they got there, she could hardly breathe.
The doctors diagnosed her with sudden onset heart failure - one of the valves of her heart had stopped functioning, causing a backup of fluid into her lungs.