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  • All my life, my mother has teased me about my small hands. "Your hands make you look like you’re six years old," she said. "How are you ever going to wear a wedding ring?"

    It didn’t help that I chewed my fingernails.

    I had not seen my grandfather for nearly two decades. When I finally visited him, I discovered that he too had small hands, roughly the same size as mine.

    At the time, he was ninety-three, and living alone. My grandmother had passed away several years earlier. My mother worried that Grandpa would soon go, but he seemed to be getting by just fine. Every morning, he’d wake up at six, eat a bowl of rice and walk to the public bath house. He’d return an hour later, fresh and clean, with a bag of groceries in one arm, a newspaper in the other.

    He knew a few words of English; I knew Korean like a toddler. I wanted so much to talk to my grandfather, to learn about his life, to hear his opinions on things, to share a joke. But the words did not come, and I remained a foreigner amongst family.

    I pestered my mother and aunties to translate for us, but after a few sentences, they grew bored and ventured off into their own discussions. My younger cousin had recently met a man; he was potentially good husband material.

    As the others spoke and laughed over things beyond my understanding, my grandfather came over and sat down next to me. He gave a deep, satisfied sigh. That’s when I realized that we were perhaps more alike than not. I was his child’s child, and we had the same hands. We had the same hands.
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