Letting Go

The inspiration to write comes from many sources, and right now it is that my son has just turned 18 and is graduating from high school. The momentous event of becoming an adult is both a cause for celebration, and a time for reflection of the passing of childhood.


Matt and my parents at baccalaureate.

For me, the thought of our first-born leaving home to go to college makes me feel at a loss, as so much of my life has been centered on raising my children as a stay at home mom, and my identity has been intertwined with motherhood. Letting go of a child is much harder than holding on, because it is so against my maternal nature. It is also difficult to let go of the “mother persona” I identified myself with for so long, but with great sadness and melancholy, I know I must gradually learn to let go.

One way I am letting go is through writing. In my book, I examine how grandmothers and mothers before me figured out how to let go when the time was right or because circumstances demanded it. Maybe it was not at a defined moment, like graduation, or turning 18. Maybe it was a lot earlier, like when my paternal grandmother had to let my father go when he was only 11 to live in a boarding house while she was working at the hospital. Or when my maternal grandmother had to rely on my 12 year old mother to hold her younger siblings’ hands while they marched south to flee from the Communists. The moment of adulthood began a lot earlier in prior generations. Through writing, I reflect on how growing up is determined by the social context in which we live.

Somehow, my writing journey has spurred my own mother to write. She wrote a long letter to my son on his 18th birthday, in Korean. She said if I am going to write, she wants to start writing too. She has always regretted not being able to speak to her grandson adequately in English, so she wrote a letter to him in Korean. My mother asked her friend to translate her letter, and I helped refine it. Here is a shorter version of her letter.

To my beloved Grandson Matthew,

I can’t believe it’s been 18 years since you were born. I still remember vividly the day I first saw you at the hospital. It was amazing to see you crying with your eyes closed shut and your hands clenched tightly….

Letter-to-MattI am so happy that you have grown up to be a fine, healthy and kind young man. Congratulations on turning 18 and becoming an adult! No matter how old you are, you will always be a well-mannered and handsome young boy to me. But the world will look to you as an adult now. And being an adult doesn’t mean that life will become easier. Rather, there will be many difficult times when you will face hardships. Remember that this is not just happening to you. If you think of it as a part of life, you will be able to overcome these hardships with resolve and determination. You will look back on these moments and realize they were happy times….

To be successful, you must think about things positively. In life, there’s good and bad, and that is true in the way you think too. If you think about things negatively, you begin to live that way. But if you see things in a positive light, you will see the beauty of life….

Even though you are now an adult, your mom and dad will always be there for you. Whenever you feel upset, know that you are not alone, and feel free to talk to them about anything. It would be nice if you would think of your grandma and grandpa once in a while too!

I would like to share these three goals by Steve Jobs:
1) Stay Hungry
2) Stay Foolish
3) Think Differently

(translated from Korean)

My mother’s words of wisdom are heartfelt and universal. I know we could all relate to these simple words, in whatever language. Life doesn’t get easier as an adult, but with patience, determination and positive thinking, life can be beautiful. Thinking like Steve Jobs can very well be the key to success!

The importance of family, love, legacy, and the passage of time is highlighted by graduation and other significant life events. In this “graduation” season, I hope you find that by letting go, you might discover something even more beautiful ahead.

Leave a comment with your thoughts.

Rosa Kwon Easton

2018-10-09T07:53:01+00:00June 2nd, 2015|Family, Inspiration|

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  1. Susan Aminoff June 3, 2015 at 12:13 pm - Reply

    Rosa: your son now has these thoughts of his grandma to carry with him through the years. This causes me to reflect on the importance of generations.

    • Rosa June 3, 2015 at 8:31 pm - Reply

      Susan, I am happy that Matt can keep this letter for the future. It has been hard with the language barrier between generations for deeper communication to happen, so this is especially meaningful. You taught me so much about the importance of family in influencing our perception of self, and this essay is a reflection of that. Thank you for reading and for sharing your thoughts!

  2. Tracey Yokas June 3, 2015 at 3:21 pm - Reply

    This is lovely Rosa. Congratulations to you and your family. Thanks for sharing.

    • Rosa June 3, 2015 at 8:10 pm - Reply

      Thank you Tracey. Your daughter’s graduation will be here before you know it! It all happens so fast: first they are babies, then they are young adults. I truly understand the meaning of children being on loan to you, because sadly they have to be given back!

  3. Leslie June 3, 2015 at 3:25 pm - Reply

    I can see where your writing talent came from!

  4. Rosa Easton June 3, 2015 at 7:29 pm - Reply

    Thanks Leslie! I think my mom enjoys writing too!

  5. Rosa June 3, 2015 at 10:17 pm - Reply

    I wanted to share a touching email I received from Bonnie in Maine. I love the quote about finding the balance between holding on and letting go. Thank you Bonnie!

    Dear Rosa, What a beautiful letter from your mother to Matthew. I have an embroidered piece in our home ( that I bought at Moody’s Diner Gift Gift Shop here in Maine!),which says: “Life is a balance between holding on and letting go.” I feel this is a good saying for all stages of life–especially for Ed and my aging phase of life now. That philosophy helped me as our three children each “took flight” and also at the times of moving from one church parish to another during Ed’s ministry. Keep up the good work on your book—we are enjoying each piece as you post them. Warm regards, Bonnie

  6. Grace June 3, 2015 at 10:17 pm - Reply


    Such a touching post. Thank you for sharing.

    • Rosa June 5, 2015 at 3:38 pm - Reply

      Thank you Grace for reading! Enjoy your children while they are young!!

  7. Ruby Easton June 5, 2015 at 3:26 am - Reply

    Hi Rosa,
    Your Mom’s letter to Matthew is a keeper, not just for its heartfelt message, but the effort it took to write in Korean and then have it translated…a loving bridge across generations and languages.

    As for “letting go” I often used the metaphor of the seesaw for letting go and holding on. When you are down on the seesaw you feel stable and can hold on, but when you are up and your feet leave the ground it may be unsettling, but it is also exciting! How we missed each of our children as they left home for college, for distant lands, or to marry, but we also wanted them to follow their own dreams.

    Like Bonnie Dad and I are experiencing another phase of letting go as we encounter the limitations of aging.

    Along with you we celebrate this milestone in Matt’s life and know that along with his wings, he will carry with him the deep roots of home and family. Mom Easton

  8. Rosa June 5, 2015 at 3:47 pm - Reply

    Thank you Mom. You have always been able to express, with experience and wisdom, everything I am feeling and sometimes unable to articulate as I am in the middle of it all. You are able to see the big picture, and I appreciate your perspective deeply. I know things are hard with you and Dad as you age, but I hope you realize that you have given our generation and Matt’s the “wings” to follow our hearts, and that is the greatest gift of all.

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