Thursday, February 05, 2009

Pen Friend

Yesterday I got a letter from my "pen friend".

My pen friend lives in Maine and she always begins her letters "My Dear Far-Away Friends,"

Yesterday she wrote about the recent elections, about cleaning her house, she asked about all the animals and also about Takumi and Leiya. She reminisced about some of our earlier letters that she'd found in a drawer while cleaning.

My pen friend's name is Alice and I have been writing to her for over 25 years. We met at the Los Angeles airport after I had gone back to the States for a month and was on my way back to Japan. Alice was going to Japan on a sight seeing tour. As we stood at the check-in counter line we started chatting and requested seats together so that we could continue our conversation on the airplane. I was 26 or 27 years old. Alice was in her early 70's. That makes me 53 now and Alice is 97!!!!

I distinctly remember telling Alice about life in Japan while we traveled across the Pacific Ocean for 10 hours. I was actually at a down point in my life, our first child had just passed away from illness and I'd taken the time in America to get my bearings and be with my American family for a few weeks. I was not looking forward to going back to Japan and a lonely house where dreams had been dashed. Although I didn't tell Alice about my loss I remember trying to tell her about all the good things in Japan, hoping she'd have a good stay while she was visiting. While I talked I realized that not all was gloomy and sad. Japan had a lot of good waiting for me. Good people, interesting customs, beautiful countryside, a loving husband etc. And as I was convincing Alice that she'd have a wonderful time in Japan I pulled myself up and began to actually look forward to returning. To me our meeting was a God given chance to see things from different eyes.

Though Alice and I parted at the Narita airport and have never met in person again, she turned out to be a wonderful correspondent and I, alone in my house, answered her letters. And so for 25 years we've exchanged one or two letters a year. I'm afraid since Internet and e-mail I haven't been such a good pen friend. Alice doesn't do computers. But she seems to do everything else!

Alice once sent me a picture of herself sitting on a Harley Davidson, I think she said it was her grand-nephew's. And she has been up in a hot-air balloon and has travelled around the world a couple of times. She said she was willing to try anything once! Maybe 20 years ago she wrote to say that she had eloped!

"And no, I'm not pregnant!"

Did I ever whoop and laugh at that line! Her somewhat younger neighbor and she had gone travelling around the country and on the spur decided to get married! In another letter she wrote that her health had declined somewhat (but not much!) and for the first time in her life she was taking blood pressure medication.

"So I am now on the PILL! -Ha-!"

Alice's wonderful neighbor/husband passed on 5 years ago just about the time my old dog passed on. I must have written and told her and she wrote back her sympathy and assured me that the dog had had a good home and lots of love. Her next line was to let me know her husband had passed after a "valiant battle against cancer". Here she'd lost the love of her life yet she first consoled me in my sadness over my dog!

Yesterday's letter ended with this thought.

I will close by saying that I've had a "Wonderful Life"-- lots of Sorrow, much Joy and most of all lots of LOVE. God's Blessings. I believe we met in 1983 -- Where did the time go? I know Takumi is about 25 -- so one of my "joys" is that we are still in touch. I wish all of you good health, because when you feel good, nothing is impossible.

Lovingly, Alice
(Love to all the pets!)

I want to be like Alice when I grow up.


Mary said...

What a wonderful post. I think you should write a book. At first I thought you could write one and call it Letters from Alice; but you've got so many stories to tell - this would just be one chapter.

Nancy said...

An A+ post, Tanya.

Marj said...

Wow! What a great story. It has made me remember some of the people who have toched my life over the years. I think that I also would like to be like Alice as I grow older. She has such a upbeat view of life. You are very lucky to have met her.

Janet C said...

A beautiful story indeed and what a wonderful friendship that span an ocean and have lasted 25 years!
I too want to be like Alice when I grow up *wink*!

Margret said...

Friendship between two women can emerge spontaneously, reach deep and last a lifetime. That is beautiful, Tanya!

scottishlass said...

What a beautiful yet bitter-sweet glimpse into your life and that of Alice as well.
Thank you for sharing that with us and yes, indeed, I, too, want to be like Alice when I grow up. :D

teodo said...

It's so nice when arrive a letter or a postcard!
ciao ciao

Shasta said...

You have managed to meet a lot of interesting friends, and I am so glad you keep in touch with them.
She is a wonderful lady indeed.

June said...

We should all be so lucky as to have an Alice in our lives! I agree, you should write a book!

Hedgehog said...

Do you know the book Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney? I love that she's from Maine and that her name is Alice!

Quiltdivajulie said...

Priceless ~ just priceless... Thank you for sharing this with us!

I so admire women like you and Alice.

Rae Ann said...

What a wonderful person Alice is. It would just wonderful for you two to see each other one more time. Plan on visiting the US soon? You have held a special place in her heart, as I know you have in others. Just a Beautiful Story to tell. Thanks for sharing.
Rae Ann

Chocolate Cat said...

What an inspirational lady and what a wonderful friendship. As it so often happens things happen for a reason as it did 25 years ago when you met Alice.

rondiquilts said...

I want to be TANYA when I grow up! I have never wrote and told you but I am always so eager to read your blog entries. You will never know how much it means to me. You are a special person. I love reading of your thankfulness and generosity and most of all your family and culture there. Your blog has so enriched my life. Have you ever thought of putting this in paper form? Please don't ever go, I would be so disappointed. I am sure there are many others out here who you have enriched also. You are so generous to take the time to share all of this with us. Please know that it is so appreciated by me although I am just now telling you.
Many blessings to you and yours.

Julie said...

What an amazing story. It was certainly wonderful that you two met that day.

shellebee75 said...

somebody already wrote it - but me to - i wanna be Tanya when i grow up!! i have just discovered your blog and i like it very much!!