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Monday, April 21, 2014

Well, that's it.

My mom’s visit to Japan was important for both of us. She had a chance to see my life in Japan. She was able to see how happy I am here. She also saw how busy we are with the business and remodeling our home.  She witnessed the difficulties and inconveniences of living in the countryside. I think the time she spent here put her mind at ease. She said that she could stop worrying about me, but I know that is impossible. She is an expert at worrying and she will always do so. The second purpose of her visit was to determine if she could live in Japan after she becomes unable to take care of herself. I don’t think she can live here. Reverting back to Japanese culture would be difficult after being an American for 60+ years. Come to think of it…for me, reverting back to American culture would be very difficult after living in Japan for only 2.5 years. Why? The differences between the two cultures are light years apart, especially comparing a life in a small community in the Japan countryside with a life in a moderately sized city in California. Let me explain…

Life in Tsukahara is quiet and slow. Life in the Bay Area (California) is not. In Tsukahara, everyone knows everyone. We try to treat each other with respect and kindness and expect the same in return. In California, I lived in the same house for ten years and I didn’t know any of my neighbors. I didn’t want to know them. I kept my doors locked and I kept to myself. It was safer to do so. For my mom, she has lived in that kind of environment for most of her life. One day, I found that all of our doors were locked in Tsukahara, because she locked them. She was afraid that maybe a deer would break into the house? On my last visit to my mom’s house, I found myself staying indoors even though the house is located in a gated community. All of the new stories about random murders and violence prevented me from having a pleasant visit to the golden state. Each night, the local news would spend the first five or ten minutes describing a recent homicide, robbery, or rape. I didn’t realize it, but I was numb to those stories when I lived in the states. Upon my return visit, I became sensitive to the news of violence…maybe too sensitive. I did not want to leave the relatively safe confines of my mom’s home.

The third purpose of her visit was to spend time with her older sister. I think they enjoyed each other’s company for a few days. Those moments were priceless. Overall, I was able to share five weeks with my mom. That fact is amazing considering I used to argue with her after 5 minutes! Erika was the very best daughter-in-law. She took care of my mom when I was at work. She took her shopping, and to the local restaurants. They did some sightseeing in Yufuin. She introduced my mom to some of the neighbors. Erika was even the last one to say, “Goodbye” to her at the bus stop before she went back to America. I’m a lucky guy to have such a great wife. Well, that’s it. My mom is safely back home and ready to start her new life in retirement.    George

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