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  • There is a support beam on my mother’s kitchen island where she has posted all sorts of mementos over the years. There are the photos – a worn black-and-white one from her college days in Korea with friends in Namsan Park; a polaroid of our dog Nozy as a month-old puppy softly nestled in her mother’s side; a mother-daughter portrait of us posing in front of the fireplace in our finest party clothes; a more recent action shot of me running the marathon.

    Then there are the cards – holiday greetings and birthday cards and postcards with pastoral scenes and pretty artwork; a pastel drawing by my old roommate from when she stayed with us a couple of summers ago; even a card from the Obama campaign with a big THANK YOU on its cover.

    During my last visit home, I was surprised to find a plastic ketchup tray displayed smack dab in the middle of the beam. It stood out for many reasons. It was uniquely three-dimensional (and apparently a challenge to tape up). It was bright red and shiny. It was a ketchup tray.

    “It’s so cute, right? I don’t care if it’s from Wendy’s. I love it, anything can be beautiful,” she said, when I asked how a ketchup tray ended up on her beam.

    I could picture her pulling away from the drive-through window, grabbing at the curious object in the paper bag and exclaiming with delight to my brother over discovering its miniature bottle shape and dipping convenience; so much more fun than those tired old rectangular packets.

    “It doesn’t matter who makes something, or what it is, or where it comes from. Just like it doesn't matter what someone does or where they come from. I don’t discriminate.”

    It’s one of the deepest and most valuable lessons I’ve learned and continue to learn since very young.

    Thanks Mom.
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