Today is already Mother's Day in Japan and though probably a lot of us are going to do this, I thought I'd tell you about my mother.
Mom is 86 this year and in pretty good health. She lives with/next to my brother's family in her own apartment. Up until two years ago she was still driving around and volunteering at a neighborhood school but these days I think she mostly spends reading library books. I wrote a lot about her last July when I was in the States and I'll probably be saturating you with tales of her when I'm in California next month so I'm skipping anecdotes about her today.
One of the best Mother's Day presents I ever gave my mother was a book called "Grandmother". It is a book with lovely little country style illustrations and questions on different topics with blank spaces so that memories can be recorded. My mother and I wrote letters back and forth to each other for most of the 30 years that I've been in Japan and both of us have always been teased that we could write volumes if given a chance. In this little book, although there were only three or four lines given for each question, my mother got on the computer and typed out her answers and then pasted pages and pages into the book!
I was blessed with a dear, loving mother whom my father brought over to the U.S. from Japan in 1917... Her name was Taka Iwanaga before she was married. She was Japanese, as was my father. She was born there, lived with her family for a time in Hokkaido, the northern island of Japan. Then she moved to Kamakura where her family lived near the Ohki household.
She had studied English at a Methodist school, Aoyama Jo-Gakuin, and so was attracted to the opportunity my father offered her to marry him and live in America. So off they came on their honeymoon--which never ended, for my mother never returned to Japan during her lifetime.
Two months after I sent her the book she returned it to me with this handwritten note.
July 1, 2002
Dear Tani and family,
So many hours of pleasure I have had completing this beautiful book you sent me for Mother's Day this year.
I can't thank you enough for giving me this opportunity to reflect on my life so far of 80 years!