Dan Kang

Small Things, Big Things

Small Things

Going to the nursing center to spend time with my grandma is emotionally draining. First off, there’s the language barrier in that my skills in Korean are subpar. It’s often hard to understand to understand what she’s saying, and it kills me when I ask her to repeat something several times and she just gives up in frustration. It’s worse when I try to tell her something and she’s unable to understand even after I try five different ways to tell her something. And for some reason, it’s at least 10 degrees hotter in my grandma’s room than the rest of the nursing center, and I become extremely irritable in heat. I sometimes open the window but my grandma usually tells me to close it soon thereafter in fear that the grandma next to us will catch a cold. Stuffiness and heat kill me. What’s possibly the worst part of this all is that my grandma moans in pain and complains that she’s suffering, but there’s nothing I can do about it. I adjust her body into countless positions, but nothing seems to really help. She often doesn’t know what would make her more comfortable. As hard as I try to stay positive and cheery, sometimes I wonder if I’ll come out of this as an insensitive monster.

Big Things

But there are also good parts.

Like when she tells me that she appreciates me spending time with her. Or when she clasps my hand and tells me that I now have the hands of a man. Or when I get to feed her and try to make the green, yellow, and white goop taste as delicious as possible by mixing them up in different proportions. She still insists on chewing the mush despite there being nothing to chew.

These things make coming here every day completely worth it.