- Family and Parenting
My Mother's Annual Visits to Japan
My Mother Visits with a Suitcase Full of Questions
I left home at the age of 15 and although I've had a rough childhood that I wouldn't want to relive, my adult years were mostly filled with happy memories. Once the drama of personal issues out of the way, our family has learned to love each other for who we are. It's definitely not the easiest thing to do, still we keep on trying because in the end, we only have each other. We are family and nothing can or will ever replace that.
Since I moved away to a completely different country at a young age, I don't get to see my family as often as I'd like to. I used to miss my family a lot and my mother knew that. She used to get so worried and worked up about me and would fly over from Hawaii to see me when she could. With every visit, she had a suitcase full of questions for me. "Are you eating?" "Is your health OK?""Why in the world are you still with this guy?"
Then she visited me again the next year. And the next. And then the next.
With each visit, she had more to ask.
"Are you sick?" " Why is your house so messy?" " When was the last time you cut your hair?"
After more than 20 years living in Japan, my mother has been coming to visit me almost every year. It has become an annual tradition and with every visit, I get to know my mother just a little bit more.
*Photos taken by myself unless otherwise noted.
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Learning About My Mother's Past
The first time my mother came to visit me was back in 1992. I had just moved over to Tokyo against my mother's wishes and for the first month or so, she wouldn't speak to me. But I was OK with that because I was young, restless and knew that it was what I needed to do. I wanted to explore the world and experience what it was like to live in different city and there was no stopping me, even my own mother. Sure I had no job to call my own, but I knew what I had to do.
Only days after my arrival in Tokyo, I felt lonely and wondered if my mother had been right all along. Maybe I should have listened to her and stayed on with what she thought was a stable and well-paying job. Having said that, I had never felt more excited to be alive and knew that I had made the right decision.
Just six months after my arrival in Tokyo, my mother paid me a visit to see how I was doing. Her visit was awkward at best and our conversations were often filled with uncomfortable silence. Still it was nice to see her again and I was happy to spend time with her. As the years went by and her visits more frequent, I learned a lot about my mother and her colorful past.
For example, there were many things I didn't know ( or didn't want to know ) about my grandmother, who I've always put on a pedestal. This was also the first time I heard about my mother's difficult time during her marriage to my father and how my grandmother treated her with very little respect.
Although this news initially came as a shock to me, I was happy that she shared this these tidbits of family history with me. I learned to appreciate my mother more than ever and despite her flaws, loved her more for doing the best she could during some truly difficult times.
You and Your Mother
Do You Have a Good Relationship With Your Mother?
Getting to Know Even More Fun Facts
My mother has visited me almost every year since and when she couldn't for one reason or another, I was always just a little bit sad. Of course I tried to visit Hawaii as much as I could but my mother visiting me in Japan was always extra special.
As the years passed, I learned even more juicy information and interesting trivia about my mother. For example, I found out that she didn't care much for sushi and this was something that I never knew before. Strange, but true. Here are some other things that I learned about her.
*My mother never smoked in front of her parents and lied about it.
*Her favorite fruits are persimmon, peaches and kyoho grapes.
*She loves eating at buffets as it keeps her from getting bored.
*She doesn't care for art of any kind.
*She always sleeps at 9:30 PM sharp.
*Gets bored easily.
*Loves rice balls but hates rice
Random things I know.
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Planning for My Mother Visits
Most of the time, I try to plan out a rough schedule for when she visits. Once her trip has been made official, I get super excited and find myself staying up all night to make elaborate plans. I buy a half dozen magazines and books to study in preparation for her arrival. I make sure to clean the apartment and have her favorite foods ready for her in case she's too tired to go out on the day of her arrival. I also plan out detailed itineraries as well as excursions to out-of-town places such as a visit to a nice hot springs resort.
Once I tell her about my intricate plans that could fill an entire book itself, she's usually exhausted and falls asleep from her long flight, while mumbling something about it all being too insanely complicated. Pffffttt.....
Just to add some variety, I started taking my mother to other countries in Asia and a couple of times, even to Europe. Since she was already coming to Japan, I figure why not take her to another country she's never visited before.
The first place I took her was to Indonesia. I remember my mother having such a good time and it's no wonder. She's never really got to travel and taking care of two kids by herself, she didn't have the luxury or time. I still have that picture of her in an orange bikini, the first time I've seen my mother in one!
After that trip to Bali, I decided to take her somewhere new every time she came to visit. On her subsequent visits, we made it to other exotic places such as Thailand, Paris, London and Hong Kong. Now that she's much older, she refuses to go on these long trips with me anymore, although I secretly wish to take her on one more trip. Who knows, maybe it could still happen!
The Adventures of Mother & SonClick thumbnail to view full-size
My Mother's Final Visit?
It's been about three years since her last visit to Japan. Nowadays, she tells me that she's too old to travel and while I understand what she's saying, I want to believe that she still can. The last time I went to visit her in Hawaii, she was still going strong and to be honest, she looked even better than a year before. Perhaps it's because she recently moved in with my sister and they fight all the time. Whatever it is, it's doing her good and to my pleasant surprise, she secretly confessed to me that she thought she just might have enough stamina left in her to come and visit me again.
A week later, I told my sister about this incredible revelation and after some planning, I am happy to say that my mother is due to arrive in Japan sometime this spring, just in time for cherry blossom season. She keeps telling me that this time will be her last and although I truly hope it's not true, it really could be. So I plan to make sure she has the time of her life and hopefully, she'll share with me some new secrets, random facts and what it was like to live in her shoes.
It's hard to believe how much time has passed. So many things change yet many things remain the same. Hopefully this "family tradition" of ours will remain unchanged for many more years to come.
What is your relationship with your mother like? All comments are greatly appreciated. Thanks!