Paige has been back from Japan for about three weeks now, and she recently had an opportunity to practice her Japanese language skills with someone who is very special to her.
Dave’s mother is Japanese, but has lived in the United States for the past fifty plus years. It is very obvious how much Paige loves her “Obachan” (grandmother), and I think she is one of the main reasons Paige has taken such an interest in Japan, the language and the culture. Obachan has not lived in Japan since she was in her twenties; she moved to Boston after meeting and marrying Dave’s father, who was stationed in the Marines over in Japan.
Since Paige will only be home for a couple of months before school starts again, we took the opportunity last Saturday to go have lunch with Obachan, who lives about an hour and a half away. Paige was so excited to talk to her, and it was wonderful to see the two of them carrying on a conversation in Japanese.
There's no need to go into great detail, but basically Obachan doesn't like to talk about her life in Japan, because she was disowned when she left. She has not seen any of her family since her twenties, and really has shied away from much discussion about the past. But I think Paige has helped to open that door, in a non-threatening way, to talk about life growing up. She sent her a postcard from Japan, and Obachan was so proud of it, had it in her purse to talk about during our visit. She talked to Paige about where her brother attended school, and wrote down several things for Paige to ask her Japanese professor about when she gets back to school.
I loved seeing the two of them talking, and sharing stories, it made me think of my own grandmother. I loved growing up with her next door to us, and she was one of the most influential people in my life. As I listened to Paige and her grandmother on Saturday, it made me realize how much I missed my Grandma G, and that I took for granted some of the times I should have been listening closer to the history that she shared. She would always talk about her family, the Boyds and the Lewises, I can't count the number of times that I heard stories about her dad and mom, or siblings.
I wish I had captured that history, written it down, or collected it somehow. I know and remember bits and pieces, but that's all. I said as much to Paige after we got home, and that it made me also think about talking more to my dad about his history. I think the whole day and experience was one that Paige will remember and be thankful for, some time with her grandma to hear about the past. And it was a great reminder for me, too. I need and want to gather more written information about my family, and I want Jace to know these things about his mom's family, as he grows up.
With my mother dying when I was young, I cherish everything I have and know about her, including my photo albums, several books and other momentos that belonged to her. My dad and my mom's sisters, Aunt Mary and Aunt Theresa, and her college friend, Margaret, have been wonderful to talk about memories and story of her life. And I know she would have made sure we kids all knew our histories, she was wonderful about pictures, photo albums, documenting, saving, etc.
But I still have time and opportunity to talk to my dad about his life - the timeline of growing up, about his childhood and teen years, when/where he went to school, his time in the military, how/when he met my mother, and all the rest. So, that's on my "To Do" list for this year, over the next several holiday weekends when we are home and all together. Thank you to Paige, and Obachan, for reminding me of how important it is to learn and remember the past, and to not take it for granted.