Tuesday, August 18, 2009


For the past month or so I have been corresponding with a new friend in Indiana. I'm not really sure how Pat found me (probably googled some information and my name popped up) but she introduced herself and said she was looking for information about my grandfather. Pat lives in the little town that my grandfather settled in back in the 1920's. He operated a factory, loved golf and among other things, painted a bit as a hobby. I think the town is putting on a historical exhibit and they wanted to feature some of my grandfather's artworks.

I called my grandfather "Jiichan" which is the childish title for "Grandfather" in Japanese. That was about my limit of Japanese as a child. My grandparents lived in Indiana and my parents and brother and I lived in California but every summer until I was 11, we would fly to Indiana to spend the summer. After Jiichan passed away, we have never returned as there are no other relatives and my family history on my mother's side has gradually faded away. I know only a little of what my mother has told me and she often regrets that she didn't take more of an interest in her parents' very interesting life stories of their immigrating to America from Japan.

Then along comes Pat! Pat has been contacting me regularly asking questions and in the meantime gathering information about my grandfather. What a sleuth she is turning out to be! She is interviewing people. She is taking pictures. She is making arrangements to borrow some of Jiichan's paintings from residents for the exhibit. She is exploring people's attics and basements to see what she can find. Pat is amazing!

Pat has sent me pictures of Jiichan's summer house, of trees he planted and art works he painted. She has visited the cemetery and taken pictures of my grandparent's gravestone. So many memories that were locked away in my brain come tumbling forth! I remember watching Jiichan shave. Riding on his tractor. Doing embroidery. Learning to ride a bicycle. I am so grateful to Pat and the people of this town for providing me with the chance to reminisce and rediscover my family background.

In my house I have one painting of Jiichan's. It is a watercolor of the lane leading to his home, the one I visited in the summers. And then Pat sends me a picture of the same lane taken just recently all enveloped in green! And a picture of the old house! I was so surprised to know that it was all still there!

The town exhibit is scheduled for sometime in September and right now we are trying to figure out a way to enable Leiya to attend. Wouldn't that be exciting! "Great-grand daughter of local artist (of sorts) making the trek into family history!"

Thank you, Pat.

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