Monday, July 30, 2007


How about a little family history...

My mom is 85 and is a second generation Japanese-American which means her parents immigrated from Japan to America. My mother was born and raised in Indiana and the first time she visited Japan was when she was in her 40's.

For the first 5 years of my mother's life her parents spoke to each other and occasionally to her in Japanese but somewhere about the time my mom entered school they switched completely to English and she never was exposed to the Japanese language again.

It was very interesting then, when I went to Japan and my mom visited me, to find that she could understand a lot more Japanese than she realized and a couple of years later when I married Tetsu to discover that she could actually communicate with him! Granted, it was quite childish Japanese, but she pulled all sorts of words and phrases from her head and they could talk to each other. For the past 30 years, (while I've lived in Japan) Mom's Japanese has served her well whenever my non-English speaking husband will make a visit to the States. I used to tease Tetsu and say, "why do you make my poor mother use her head to communicate with you but you never try to learn English?" That's the way it is and neither of them seems to mind.

A couple of days ago Tetsu called while I was at the beach so he and my mother chatted a bit over the phone (this is an even bigger challenge when speaking a foreign language since you can't see the person's expressions to get a hint about what they're saying.) When I called him back a few hours later he was just full of praise for my mom.

"Tanya, you may say that she's forgetting things and not as clear as she used to be, but she certainly didn't have any problems talking with me! She told me all I needed to know about where you were and when you'd be back and she asked about my mother and all the animals. And all this in Japanese! You've got to see the exceptional side of that too, not just think about the minuses as she gets older." (I had told him how disappointed I was hearing the same comments and questions from her and seeing the faraway look she gets.) "She remembers the important things and she can use two languages! That's really amazing and you need to focus on that!" (Isn't Tetsu an encouraging husband?)

So I wanted to tell you today that although Mom needs more help in some ways she's still got a lot of spark and can hold her own in other ways!

(I'm sorry for all these family pictures, but right now my blog is the only way I'm getting information back to Tetsu in Japan! And remember, he doesn't read the English, he's only enjoying the pictures!)


Connie W said...

What a blessing to be there with your lovely mom and have both Leiya and Takumi there as well. You all look so happy and so handsome! It's nice to be able to see their faces and read about them. And I forgot that your mom lived here in Indiana! Thanks for the reminder.

JudyL said...

Thanks for the family history. I love the family pix! I knew you were raised in America but never was sure about your Japanese history. Know I know some of it.

Your mom is a very beautiful 85 year old and I can only hope that I'm remembering nearly as much as she is when I get that age!

keslyn said...

Thanks for sharing your family with us, I love reading about your family,your Mum looks great for her age, hope I look that good in a few more years LOL, hope we all do.

meggie said...

Yes Tanya, I think we all enjoy seeing your lovely family! Your mother has a beautiful face, & how clever of her to be able to speak Japanese.

Mary said...

My Mom is just 75 but I find myself getting frustrated at times also. It's a good reminder to focus on the positive.

Shelina said...

I am enjoying seeing the family pictures and learning more about your family. It is amazing that she has picked up Japanese from such a young age. I have a hard time conversing in another language, and my mother insists that she speaks to us in that language. I answer in English!

teodo said...

How sweet is your mom and this story about your family.
ciao ciao