That’s easy. My mom’s parents were born in Japan. They came over in 1904 and 1911. Mom is the youngest in a very large family and I am the youngest of three with a nine year spread. Grandmother died a year before I was born, and grandfather a year after. So I never knew my maternal grandparents. We have pictures of him holding me as an infant. My grandfather would be 135 years old today and my grandmother would be 123 years old today.
I’d been to Japan once before, 19 years ago. It was a whirl-wind affair with so many relatives and friends to see. We only were able to stay one night here, one night there. It was crazy.
My mother is full of vim an vigor. She travels at least once a year overseas despite the fact she is well into her eighth decade on the planet. A couple years ago I asked her, “mom, when are you going to Japan?” She answered, “oh, I think maybe in 2015. I’m doing well now, but you know, at this age, anything could happen. This may be my last trip to Japan.”
“I wanna go!” I immediately responded. “But this time, I want to take a lot more time. I want to be able to spend quality time with people I want to see as well as take time to see stuff I haven’t seen before.” Gratefully, I was able to take off a month, so we spent the whole month of April in Japan.
What did I want to see and do?
I wanted to see a couple cities I hadn’t seen before: Kyoto and Hiroshima. Moreover, I wanted to take time to get to know my Japanese relatives as well as hopefully collect more stories about my grandparents, especially my grandfather. Mom has been the primary bridge between the families in America and Japan. A few of our relatives have traveled to Japan, but almost none speaks Japanese. A very few of our Japanese relatives have come to the States. I feel a growing desire and responsibility to forge my own bonds with our Japanese relatives as well as build upon the bridge my mother has erected over the past 70 years across the Pacific.
We were able to accomplish much more than I hoped or expected. That is one reason why I want to write about it and share it here.