[Virginia] Now, explain.
[Bob] Oh, how we got this daughter?
[Lee] How did you get the daughter? That’s what she asked you.
[Virginia] Well, yeah, but let him finish.
[Bob] Yeah. I know. That’s another story.
Well, the reason for that was: In the Mineola church [where Bob was pastor, 1983–1991], on the edge of, you know, Nassau County in New York on Long Island, we had a church that three or four Korean people came to me one day and said, “Would it be possible for you to let us use your church after you’re done? We’ll come in at, say, one o’clock.” So I got the session’s permission. Not everybody was excited about it. Ach, prejudice. Terrible. Anyway, we agreed to it. Well that group grew from four or five people to a larger group than my . . . church.
[Bob] English-speaking church. I got very close to them. I taught the Korean young people Sunday school because they needed. . . . These kids were so acclimated to the United States they couldn’t speak Korean. So I said, “Well, I’ll teach them.” That was kind of fun.
This young woman was at Stony Brook University out on the Island and I got to be kind of close to the family. Her brother was in my youth group along with all the rest of them.
[Polly] Well, both brothers.
[Bob] Both brothers, yeah.
Her father was taken down to Philadelphia because he was quite sickly. They didn’t know what was wrong with him. He died down there of cancer. He was just full of cancer and they didn’t know what the trouble was. So I had part of the funeral and all of the rest of it. A few weeks later, a month later, she came to me in the hallway one Sunday morning. She said, “You know my daddy’s dead. Will you be my daddy?”
[Bob] So that was the beginning. We’ve been very close. She still is—I was just down last week to see her.
[Polly] Mn-hmm. With Andrew.
[Bob] With Andrew. She’s very generous. She married a guy who became a pharmacist. She’s just very generous with her gifts and all the rest of it. She was raised in a home where she couldn’t talk to her father. She told me more about that while we were there.
[Virginia] Because of the language barrier or because. . . .
[Bob] No. No. Because he was very austere.
[Polly] He just wasn’t, he just wasn’t. . . .
[Bob] Very distant and austere.
[Polly] And even her mother—if I might just interject—
[Bob] No you can’t.
[Polly] Ha! Well, anyway. Since when did I ask permission?
But because her mom was still alive. I have to admit I kind of dragged my feet about this a little bit. I was happy. I really liked JiYoung a lot. I was actually closer—her sister died very young of cancer. Her sister was older than she is. And I had gotten to know JiYan [sp?], she was. . . .
Grandma Duncan was part of this family. They just dearly, dearly loved Grandma Duncan. They really were very respectful, as you would imagine an Asian of age would be anyway. They would always approach Grandma—I’m diverting for a moment, but I know this is important. They were wonderful to her. They would just always, always, all the Koreans would come and greet Grandma first, and then the pastor, and then me. That was just the way it was, which was very, very special.
Anyway, you know, I knew the family. Really didn’t get to know JiYoung very well. Because we had such a good family I said, “Oh, are we going to embrace another family member?” And yet, I wasn’t really mean about it, but I have to admit. . . . And the other fact was, yes, she had lost her dad and I knew her dad, too, a little bit, JiYoung’s dad, but I also knew her mom and felt I didn’t want to usurp that.
[Polly] Though she is not close to her mother. She loves her mother and everything, but they’re not really, really close.
[Bob] They’re not buddies at all.
[Polly] She has confided in me, as the years have gone on—and I’m very, very fond of her; I consider her now my daughter—but it took a while for me personally until the relationship, umm. I’m always trying to be careful when Grandpa, when Uncle Bob explains this, I don’t want him to come across as a sugar daddy or something like that, you know. Whatever that means. He did become a confidante daddy to her that was very, very needful for her at the time, you know. I realize that more so now as the years have gone on. I’ve gotten close to her. She’s shared a lot with me, too.
[Virginia] What’s the age difference between Colin and I’m guessing she’s younger?
[Polly] JiYoung is what 32 or 33 maybe now?
[Bob] She’s closer to Colin in age.
[Polly] Yeah. Colin’s 39, so maybe she’s 36 or 37.
[Bob] Yeah. Oh, it’s terrible. I don’t remember her age.
[Polly] You’re bad.
[Bob] I’ll have to find out.
[Polly] And I’m bad, too. But anyway, yeah, we’re fairly close.
redacted transcription of a story told by Bob and Polly (his wife) to Virginia (Lee’s daughter) and Lee and Ken (Lee’s second husband) during a visit to California in January 2004
Can you add to the story? Please do. Write in the box below (You may need to click “Leave a Reply” above to make the box, name, and address fields appear.).
- What is JiYoung’s sister’s name, the one who died of cancer?
- What year did JiYoung’s father die?