Thursday, December 18, 2008


Every month at the kindergarten where I teach, there is a birthday party and lunch for all the children who have birthdays in that month. In the morning when the children arrive, the birthday boys and girls get to choose a ribbon which is pinned on their shirt or dress. The children and staff gather for a lunch and party prepared by some of the mothers, and throughout the day the ribbon adorned children are recognized and congratulated. The children take home their ribbons and most of them treasure the simple pins for years after.

I never thought about it, but where did those ribbons come from? It has been a tradition at Mifumi Kindergarten for the past 15 years which adds up to a lot of ribbons when you consider that each year the enrollment is about 100 children.

I found out on Monday.

Last Friday when I made an appearance at the kindergarten I was talking to the kindergarten principal and learned that her mother, Mrs. Sato, wasn't well. For many years Mariko-sensei's mother would attend the kindergarten entrance and graduation ceremonies, would come to enjoy the festivities on Sports' Day and would sit quietly on the sidelines during the Christmas pageant. I know that this sweet lady confidentially donated funds to buy the kindergarten playground equipment and that her heart has been directed towards the kindergarten for more than 20 years.

On Sunday night I got word that this lovely lady had passed away at age 91 and Monday I attended her funeral. The kindergarten playground is situated just below the church sanctuary and so the happy sounds of children playing drifted up and seemed very appropriate to the somewhat cheerful funeral service. Besides the sermon and hymns and words from the family, 4 or 5 of the kindergarten children came up quietly from the kindergarten and brought flowers and all of them were wearing their birthday ribbons. Birthday ribbons that Mrs. Sato has made for the kindergarten children for 15 years!

What a testimony of love and commitment! What a message of doing what you can in the place where you are put! Making ribbons is not a big job (actually making a hundred ribbons a year sounds like a big job!) but it was something that this lovely grandmother could do at her own pace and she did it right up until her 90th birthday!

And yes, one of her own ribbons was sent along with her on her eternal Birthday!


Katie said...

What a nice tradition and a very special woman. It is the small things that make the difference.

G'G'ma said...

Nice story. It goes to show that no matter how old we get there is always something we can do. And look at how much the ribbons meant to the children.

Karen said...

How wonderful. I hope the tradition continues.

R.H. said...

Reading this brought tears to my eyes. This lady was very special and she held a special each of these kindergarten childen in her heart. When one thinks about her attending the entrance and graduation of these children, she took it upon herself to oeversee each of the on their beginning and their ending at that school. How dedicated she was, just like a guardian Angel watching over them.
I am sure she will be grately missed. Rae

mamaspark said...

Your post really touched me. What a nice testament for this wonderful woman!

chi-mi san said...

What a nice story, Tanya.
I can imagine her peaceful face.

Margret said...

An inspiring beautiful story! This world has many Mrs. Satos and ribbon saving kids, and it should be one of our reasons still to believe in humanity.

Chocolate Cat said...

What an amazing woman! Having a purpose maybe was a reason she reached such a wonderful age.

quiltmom said...

What a lovely idea and what a wonderful thing that this woman did - I think it is also so terrific that the children treasured the ribbons.
I came here from Michele's blog and I shall return to your blog again. It is really lovely.
Regards from a Western Canadian Quilter( I also happen to be a kindergarten teacher)