Chapter 25 - Annyeong Haseyo Means Hello
"Good bye, Father, thank you for everything," said Margaret. She kissed and hugged the priest.
Father Mulcahy drove the group to the airport in Seoul for their return journey. Their group was considerably larger than when they had first come.
"Francis," said Hawkeye. "There will never be enough words invented to express my undying gratitude to you."
"Be safe and be well, Hawkeye and may the Lord richly bless your family," said the priest. Then he whispered, "Please take lots of pictures at the birthday party. I would give anything to see Sherman's face when you present him with his gift."
Yumee reached over from Hawkeye's arms and put her little arms around Father Mulcahy's neck. "Tank you," she said and kissed his cheek.
"Now there's a kiss I shall treasure always," said the priest.
"Good bye, Padre. You take care of yourself. I can't thank you enough for the way you've taken care of my Sophie," Sherman said.
"Father, don't forget to write," said BJ giving the priest a hug.
"Peg, may I introduce to you Jin-Ho Han and his wife Hyun-Soon Han, Soon-Lee's parents. They're going to Hannibal with Sherman. The Klingers will be driving to Hannibal to spend the weekend with the Potters and O'Reilly's," said BJ with a wink.
"It's so good to meet you Mr. and Mrs. Han! Soon-Lee will be beside herself!"
Jin-Ho asked, "Please explain 'beside herself.'"
BJ laughed and said, "What Peg means is that Soon-Lee will be very very happy."
"Oh," said the Korean man with a smile.
Peg had come to the airport to greet Sherman and pick up BJ and the Pierce family.
"Well, Mr. and Mrs. Han, we need to board our flight," said Sherman. "I can't wait to see the look on your daughter's face when she sees you."
Jin-Ho translated to his wife. She looked up from the picture of her daughter and family and smiled. She had hardly let loose of Sherman's picture since the first moment she'd seen it. Sherman made a mental note to ask Max for another copy.
"We are so...grateful to you...all of you," said Jin-Ho with tears in his eyes. "Two year we look for Soon Lee...very sad time. And now you say we find not only daughter but also grandson. We are so...happy!"
"Well, Jin-Ho, my friend, let's not wait another minute. Goodbye all. Don't forget about the 4077th reunion in August."
"Oh don't worry," said Hawkeye with a grin. "We won't forget, will we Margaret." He elbowed her rib.
She smiled and said, "How could we ever forget? See you in August, Sherman."
March 15, 1955
We're finally back in the states. And the good news is that you and Mom are officially grandparents! Our daughter was in the monastery just as we'd hoped. There's no mistaking her thanks to Klinger's pictures.
We've spent the last two weeks jumping through governmental hoops, both Korean and American. We've filled out so much paperwork that we can both sign our names blindfolded...in triplicate.
Our daughter's name is Catherine Yumee Pierce.
Yumee is Korean for 'beautiful dawn.'
Margaret hasn't let her out of her sight for a minute. It's like those two were meant to be together.
We're staying with Beej and Peg for a couple of days before the seven of us go on to Hannibal. Mildred Potter decided that this was a good time to have a 4077 reunion in the form of a surprise birthday party for Sherman.
The girls are all having a great time. Peg knows all the best places to shop here in Mill Valley. Margaret has been enjoying getting Yumee a few new clothes to wear. The only thing she had to wear was the Korean dress that she was wearing when she came from the monastery.
Dad, you should have seen her looking out the window on the plane as we came into San Francisco. I swear her eyes were as big as dinner plates!
When Beej was my bunkmate in Korea I wasn't always so understanding of how much he missed Peg and Erin. I got tired of hearing about it sometimes. Now I can appreciate what he must have gone through. I can hardly stand being separated from Margaret and Yumee for two hours, let alone two years.
I hate to ask this of you, Dad, but could you or Mom do us a favor. We won't be home until the 21st and we are wondering if you could do some shopping for us. We would like to have a welcoming room for our daughter. Maybe this is more of a job for Mom, now that I'm reading what I'm writing. We're thinking maybe some curtains and a bedspread that say 'a little girl lives here.'
Thanks ahead of time. See you on the Monday the 21st.
Your son, the daddy,
Daniel finished reading the letter to Rose. They hugged each other in their excitement.
Rose sighed, "I love a happy ending!"
"Ending?" said Daniel. "This is only the beginning. That kid's going to need shoes and clothes, an education, college..."
"Slow down, big guy," said Rose, "Let's start with curtains and a bedspread."
Mildred, Soon-Lee and Patty were preparing dinner while Max and Radar went to pick up Sherman at the airport. Two month old Brian Klinger and five month old Jenny O'Reilly were lying on palettes on the floor in the Potters' bedroom.
Patty laughed, "It's going to look like a nursery school by the time everyone gets here with their kids. I can't wait to see Yumee Pierce. Max says she's a real cutie, or at least she was when he saw her two years ago. I'm glad the Freedmans are coming. I can't wait to see Jeffrey. Aaron is so cute I'll bet the baby's a real doll."
"You say baby is doll? You mean Jeffrey is toy baby?" asked Soon-Lee. She was having a hard time making sense out of American slang.
"No dear," laughed Mildred. "When we say someone is a doll it means they are very cute. If I say that your Brian is a doll, it means he's good looking, handsome."
"Oh...I understand...I think. I hope you like kimchee...I make for you. Very popular Korea. Next week for birthday party I make you bulgoghi." Max had found an Oriental grocery in Toledo. Since the war ended he learned that he was among many who had brought home Korean War brides. Soon-Lee was happy to find foods that she was used to. She liked Tony Packo's hot dogs but she preferred food that she was more familiar with.
"Sounds scary," said Patty. "But I'll try anything once."
"Here I set table," said Soon-Lee picking up the dishes.
"Sounds like the men are home," said Mildred. "Sherman is that you?"
"Yes, Mother we're home. I brought someone home with me I'd like you to meet."
The women walked into the living room. Mildred extended her hand to the Korean couple standing beside Sherman. Max was grinning from ear to ear. Before Mildred could greet the couple a resounding crash came from behind her as the stack of dishes Soon-Lee had been holding hit the floor.
Soon-Lee stood transfixed; almost afraid to move for fear that she would wake up and find that she was only dreaming. Hyun-Soon was the first to make a move. For the first time she dropped the photo she'd been holding for days and ran with a cry to her daughter. "Soon-Lee! Soon-Lee!"
Jin-Ho was close behind his wife. He waited patiently while the two women hugged each other and cried. Soon-Lee looked up to see her father standing behind her mother, "Papa!" she cried and put her arms around him. Tears ran down Jin-Ho's face.
The rest of the group stood smiling and wiping tears from their eyes as they watched the reunion of the family who'd been separated for the last two years.
When she could pull herself away from her parents, Soon-Lee ran to Sherman and threw her arms around his neck. "How I ever repay you?"
"You just did," he said with a grin.
Two babies began to howl from the bedroom. Radar and Max went to the retrieve their children.
"Mama Han...Papa Han...I'd like to introduce you to your grandson, Brian Yong Klinger," said Max proudly.
Hyun-Soon took the baby in her arms and held him close. She kissed his head and spoke to him in Korean. Then she leaned over and kissed her newfound son in law. Max beamed at Soon-Lee, "I think she likes me."