“To my precious you
who brightened up my life
I invite you to my funeral”
SONG OF THE DAY
Sang Sang Band – “Say Goodbye” [ zShare download ]
…Continuing FINAL EPISODE SUMMARY, PART 2
Ho Sang sets aside some time to spend an entire day with Nam Kyung, so Hana takes Eun Tak out to spend some time together as well.
Nam Kyung and Ho Sang think back to when they were in the same club together, and how Ho Sang used to always make Nam Kyung laugh. They promise each other to spend the day as though it was one of the old days.
Like they did on his birthday, Eun Tak and Hana go bike riding. Hana says that Ho Sang felt bad about becoming the center of attention after his illness was revealed, pushing Eun Tak and Nam Kyung aside.
Hana asks about Eun Tak’s first love, and he answers that she was the opposite of Hana (Hana: “Then she must’ve been the style all men fall for”), and there was a fierce competition rate — approximately 300 to 1 — but in the end, he won her over. Hana asks why they broke up, and Eun Tak tells her it got bothersome to keep dating, and stopped being fun.
Hana: “How is that first love? That’s not even love.”
Eun Tak: “Most people love like that. At the time, you believe it’s love, and when it falters, you feel sad. The love you have right now is special.”
Hana: “Is it?”
Eun Tak: “That was one of the reasons I liked you. I didn’t believe that kind of love existed. But seeing someone actually experiencing it… it blinds the eyes.”
Hana: “Sometimes I think, what would be different if Ho Sang weren’t sick? We’d be happy because we’d have a future together, but we wouldn’t have been able to feel the preciousness of spending each passing day together.”
Eun Tak: “Getting married and spending the rest of your lives together doesn’t always mean the love comes to a happy ending. But Hana, your love will have a happy ending. I believe that.”
Over drinks (Nam Kyung drinks soju; Ho Sang pretends his soda is liquor), Nam Kyung and Ho Sang remember how they used to go drinking as a group. He always intended to be the one to see Nam Kyung home if she got drunk, but he always got drunk first. As they say their goodbyes, Nam Kyung’s happy facade cracks a bit: “Back then, when we drank with friends, we’d always hug each other. Can I hug you once, like back then?”
Ho Sang tells her, “You never once hugged me then. I was so sad over that.” Nam Kyung tells him she’ll make up for that: “My friend Yoon Ho Sang, you have to stay with me a long, long time, okay?”
Hana: “I think you’ll get upset with me if I tell you this… but sometimes I have this brief thought. That when you left, I’d follow. But I won’t think that anymore. Everyone’s trying so hard to protect us, if I betray that, everyone will regret it.”
Ho Sang: “Don’t ever think that again. Not even for one second. Okay?”
Ho Sang: “When I’m gone, you have to console the ones left behind, and receive comfort too. You have to do it in my place.”
Hana: “But what if it takes too long? What if it’s too long until I meet you again?”
Ho Sang: “If it looks like you’re having too much difficulty because it’s taking too long… if you look too lonely… I’ll use my support and ask to bring you to me quickly.”
Hana: “You’d better. I’ll trust you.”
Ho Sang: “Don’t get your hopes up too much. You know I don’t have the skill to get much support, wherever I go.”
Hana: “You’ll have to do your best. Work hard, and look good to God, okay?”
Ho Sang: “Okay.”
The rival funeral-home owners drop by again, this time to inform Hana’s father that they intend to get out of the funeral business. They’d met while working in a nightclub as waiters, and tired of the loud noise and busy scene. They’d intitally gone into the funeral business thinking it would be quiet, easy work, but they’ve found it’s not. Each job pains the heart: “Funeral work isn’t for anyone to do. It’s for people with deep hearts, like you. It doesn’t suit us.”
They’re going back to the nightclub scene, and Hana’s father leaves him with this bit of wisdom: “Whatever you do, whether it’s for the dead or the living, do everything with sincere affection.”
Ho Sang calls Hana out to meet him in town, and she sees him carrying a bunch of balloons that spell out: “Wad of Gum. I love you.”
Ecstatic, Hana races to Ho Sang and hugs him… and in his surprise, he accidentally lets go of the balloons. Disappointed, Hana looks up at the balloons flying away. Ho Sang says at least she got to see it, but she’s still upset.
Seeing Hana’s disappointed expression, Ho Sang seizes the moment, and kisses her…
…and Hana finally gets her grand-gesture, Goong moment.
Hana has a heart-to-heart with her father, who asks what’s bothering her. She answers that she feels the loss of each passing day, and asks if it’s true that the days pass by more quickly as you age. Her father says it seems so. Hana: “I’m glad. That means each day I spend with Ho Sang now is longer than each day I’ll have to spend without him later.”
Her father tells her, “You’ll have many long days ahead of you. Thinking of that hurts my heart. But what can you do? If you’ve decided to overcome these difficulties, you should. As important as Dae Bak is to you, you’re important to him. If you know that, take good care of yourself.”
He also gives her a piece of practical advice: “Also, make sure to praise whatever he does as good and wonderful. That’s what gives a man the power to live on.”
Hana, Ho Sang, and Eun Tak are surprised to receive a visit from the widow from earlier. Her husband visited her in a dream last night: “He told me to be sure to thank you. Because of you, he was able to leave with a happy heart. He wanted me to tell you that. Seeing how healthy he looked, I feel much better. Thank you. But you know, even in my dream, he was joking around. Even when you die, it seems people don’t change.”
Sitting around after the widow leaves, Ho Sang tells them he thinks he’s received a large gift from the deceased man, for teaching him that even when you die, it’s possible to convey your feelings to those left behind. Hana expresses relief at knowing she can communicate even if it’s just in a dream. Ho Sang: “So both of you had better live well. If you don’t, I’ll appear in your dreams to scold you.”
Ho Sang: “Living and dying… they’re not separate things. I think they’re connected. It’s like moving — when you move, you separate with your friends in that neighborhood. You miss each other, but get caught up in your busy lives that you don’t get to meet very often. Is dying the same? We can’t meet as often as when we lived in the same neighborhood, but when you really want to meet, there will be a way, whether it’s through dreams, or memories.”
Hana: “And even if you don’t hear each other’s news often, you figure they’re living well over there.”
Eun Tak: “And you think, they’ll have met better friends in their new neighborhood.”
Ho Sang: “It’s like elderly schoolmates — later on, you’ll all meet together.”
Eun Tak: “Chattering on about how you and I used to be?”
Ho Sang: “Yeah.”
Hana: “When we meet again, I hope we won’t have changed too much.”
Ho Sang: “Don’t worry. Even elderly grandpas and grandmas say that when they meet their grade-school friends, they return to their grade-school days. So whenever we meet, we’ll return to these times.”
Walking down the street, Ho Sang comes upon a little girl dressed in an angel costume. Wordlessly, she smiles and holds out her hand to him. Ho Sang asks calmly, “You want me to go with you?” and she nods yes. Ho Sang: “Now?” The angel-girl nods again.
My heart drops in my stomach, afraid he’ll drop dead at any moment, but Ho Sang asks her, “How about if I go a little later, instead of now?” The little girl smiles and says, “Let’s meet next time.” She walks down the street, and Ho Sang gives her a wave.
Hana’s voiceover tells us: “I don’t know if that little girl was really an angel or not. But I believe she was. She came to show him that the world he’s going to is a beautiful place.”
Once again, Hana and Ho Sang visit the large tree in the open field. He lays down to rest, and Hana lays down next to him, as he tells her to bury him here with the trees: “I’ll be sleeping comfortably under this tree, so whenever you want to see me, come here and wake me. Okay?”
A brief montage flashes back over all the funeral services we’ve seen thus far: Ho Sang’s own (mistaken) funeral… the funeral where he broke the elders’ precious jar… the mountaintop funeral… the grieving mother who lost her son… Lan’s Vietnamese procession… Madam Gong…
…while his voiceover tells us:
“Looking back, all funerals have people and tears… they were filled with warmth. So now, I can see my impending funeral without sorrow. I want to face the day when my loved ones gather to remember me with smiles.”
He writes the invitation placard to his funeral.
The following is perhaps the best possible way they could have depicted Ho Sang’s death: symbolically. I didn’t want to see him die, and I didn’t want to see him deteriorate in health. I LOVE how they chose to let him go.
It’s a variation of the series’ opening credits, which if you haven’t seen are almost the same, except now they carry added meaning. Ho Sang lies in the field alone, clutching flowers, and meets Hana. They laugh and smile, enjoying each other’s company, until a bell rings, cutting short their time together. His hand leaves hers, and he walks away. A black-ribboned lantern flutters in the breeze.
Here’s the clip:
We fade in on Hana’s family, dressed in black after coming home after Ho Sang’s funeral. Hana inserts a videotape into the VCR, having received instructions from Ho Sang to watch it after his death.
In it, a healthy Ho Sang speaks into the camera:
“Did you come back from my funeral okay? I wanted to jump up in the middle and make everyone laugh, but I bet that didn’t happen. I thought you would all be feeling tired and down today, so I prepared a small present. It’s nothing big, but I’ll show you pictures of my youth. I won’t be able to show you myself aging, so I wanted to at least leave you with images of my childhood.”
On the picture of Ho Sang’s “I love you” balloons, Ho Sang says, “You were upset because we lost the balloons, weren’t you? Well, here’s proof they existed, so don’t feel too bad.” Ho Sang then plays on the piano, joking that they’ll be amazed at his skills. He performs a brief children’s song, and the family smiles along.
Ho Sang’s smiles falter as he tearfully says his last:
“Father, Mother, Pil Gu ajusshi, Eun Tak, and my Wad of Gum. I love you. When you think of me, always laugh. My body may be gone, but seeing you laugh, I’ll gain strength too. Thank you for coming to my funeral today. I truly thank you for filling my life with warmth. Treasure my grateful heart. I’ll live well where I am, too. Until we meet again, please stay healthy.”
And finally, we arrive one year later at the anniversary of Ho Sang’s death, where everyone has gathered in spirited remembrance for a picnic. People have mostly stayed the same, aside from Eun Tak having moved up to Seoul in the intervening time. In addition to the family, in attendance are Nam Kyung, Miss Lee (Madam Gong’s tearoom apprentice), and the ex-funeral-home rivals…
…but they’re visited by other loved ones, such as Lan and Madam Gong…
…and of course, Ho Sang.
I feel like I should have some final words to say, but I must’ve said them all. Or I’m still worn out from watching the ending.
Flowers For My Life is a beautiful drama, and one of the best I’ve seen. It had nary a misstep along the way, and provided something wonderful in every episode.
I feel like calling it a “beautiful” or “moving” drama will turn people off, but it’s enjoyable and heartwarming and funny as well. I hope everyone who watches it gets the same sense of satisfaction. If you don’t like it, it doesn’t bother me, but this one goes straight to the top of my list.