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  • Writer's pictureNina Castle

Cheek to Cheek: Remembering My Mom in My Musical, and Always…

My mom.

My absolutely wonderful and awesome, sweet mom.

There’s so much I wish I could ask you.

So much I wish I could remember.

I would love to hear stories of your childhood in Korea.

And stories of coming to America, learning English, and how it felt to be in a new country.

I would love to discuss details of your life for better understanding and for knowing you better.

You bravely and without complaint endured troubles throughout your life,

From the beginning to the end…and a lot of time in between…

You did not deserve such sad times.

But you were gracious throughout it all.

You respected people and did not gossip about them.

You refused to complain about your difficulties.

You had a quiet strength that was unrecognizable from the surface.

You cherished me as a baby and held me cheek to cheek.

I wish I could remember those times, but am thankful for a photograph.

Your pregnancy with me was not planned, and was chaotic.

I am thankful that you always wanted me and did not think otherwise.

This time of year really hurts…

You had good days and bad days; good years and bad years.

Your relationship with Dad was a rollercoaster ride.

You married then divorced when I was a toddler.

You remarried each other when I was 5, then divorced when I was around 10.

You guys also got together another time after all that!

There was a definite connection that you shared.

In a different lifetime or under different conditions, perhaps it would have worked out.

I don’t remember a lot from my childhood. (But I’m determined to remember more!)

It’s easier to remember the bad things. The fights. My preference for being with Grandma.

I want to remember more of the good things.

I hope there are a lot of good memories; I hope there were a lot of good days for you, Mom.

I loved your smile.

You had a beautiful smile!

You were so very beautiful, with an envious figure at the beach.

I loved going to the beach with you when I was little.

I was proud to stand next to you when you remarried Dad.

You really had a beautiful soul and a beautiful presence.

I know some things in life did not turn out as you desired.

I know you did not always feel like your voice would be heard.

I loved when you would share your thoughts at church;

I wish I had those moments recorded, to listen to again…

I miss your voice. I miss your beautiful broken English.

I miss your lovely and soothing singing voice.

I am grateful that you loved hearing me sing.

I am thankful for dreams where we can talk.

I’m thankful that Melinda and Suzy were able to grow up with you.

I’m thankful for the amazing grandmother you were, and for your calming gift with babies.

I’m thankful I was able to know you better in my adulthood.

I’m thankful for the love that you always had for me, even when I questioned it.

I’m humbled that you thought I was awesome.

I will cherish you and your love forever.

I will always remember the image of us being cheek to cheek—

When I was toddler, and again, in your last days here on Earth.

This is the first time (2022) when the days of the week are the same as in 2011.

Monday night, April 11, is when you told me that you were ready to go.

I hate that you had pancreatic cancer. You handled it so graciously…

Each day of the week, you deteriorated more and more…

Your loving daughters and our husbands were by your side to care for you the last days…

It hurt so much. The pain of knowing your life here was coming to an end.

It seemed unfair. You were only 63 and in good health—way too young!

On Friday, April 15, at 2:30pm, you took your last breath.


You were at such peace.

Your daughters, sons-in-law, oldest grandkids, and others, all “happened” to be gathered around you for that last breath.

How beautiful that was.

And sorrowful.

When the hospice nurse came onto our street, not knowing you had just passed, she thought and felt that angels were surrounding our home.

They were.

How I wish I could see what you saw!

How did your soul feel the moment you were free from your dying body?

The freedom and unconditional love that encompassed you!

What glimpses or full-view of Heaven did you see and experience?

I can’t wait to “see” you again someday, my awesome mom!

I truly love you from the depths of my heart.

I remember you every day. (Now the tears empathize this for me…)

For someone so quiet, who was “unseen”, who did not boast her presence—

You were truly worthy of the honor of having the whole world know you.

And so, I dedicate and write my musical for you and about you.

About US.

Please help guide me in what to share…

Your story—Our story—needs to be told!

From pain and misunderstanding comes hope and healing, reconciliation and redemption.

I hope you will be proud of—

Coming sometime in the next few years or so…

Eleven years missing you now…

I love you and thank God so much for you!~~Your baby Nina~~cheek to cheek…

CHEEK TO CHEEK © song for my musical: music pending/in process.

Lyrics by Nina Castle, 2/2/19. (Lyrics subject to change by Nina.)

When the day is done,

And when it has begun,

And all the time in between—

There’s nowhere I’d rather be

Than here with you and me,

Cheek to cheek, with my baby.

My child, you don’t know me--

You don’t know the problems I faced.

I hide inside since it’s safe.

I love carefully, sometimes quickly.

I do my best which is not always best.

These things are for sure though—

A better life than mine you will know,

And I’ll love you the rest of my days

And whatever comes next.

When the day is done,

And when it has begun,

And all the time in between—

There’s nowhere I’d rather be

Than here with you and me,

Cheek to cheek, with my baby.

My child, will I know you?

Will I know the problems you face?

Will you come to me to feel safe?

Please love carefully, sometimes quickly.

And do your best which is not always “best”.

These things are for sure though—

A better life than mine you will know,

And I’ll love you the rest of my days

And whatever comes next

“Cancer has no right to make my grandchildren cry.” —Soonyi (Sonia) Oliver (Kim), 2011

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I woke up the other morning with these words going through my head. I had been in even more conversation with God this week, and am always so thankful for the connection and for what He is telling me!


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