Monday, January 2, 2012


Tetsu is back at work today. He had two days off and we did things like go to the hot spa (Tetsu's favorite pastime), visit his mother, go shopping and visit a pottery festival.

Let's start with Tetsu's mother. Obaachan just turned 87 last week and she lives alone in a prefecture apartment. Tetsu's older brother lives in another prefecture and by tradition, she is supposed to be living with his family, but Obaachan prefers to live alone. Tetsu's sister lives nearby and looks in on her quite a lot. Tetsu and I live about 30 minutes away and Tetsu visits weekly. (Me, not so often... twice a month?)

There were times when Obaachan and I tried to live together but that didn't work out too well. I don't take that personally because what old fashioned mother-in-law wants to get used to living with her foreign daughter-in-law. It didn't work out for Obaachan to live with Tetsu's older brother's family or sister either, so it is not just me! This arrangement as been satisfactory for the past 30 years though as Obaachan gets older, I'm not sure how long we can maintain this lifestyle.

Obaachan has meals brought in to her daily and has a care worker who does shopping for her and helps clean up her very small apartment. Obaachan is still pretty capable. Her mental faculties are excellent though she can't see or walk well. Of course, according to Obaachan, she is on her last legs and won't be around next week but she has been saying this for 30 years.

Frankly, Obaachan is not very cheerful and it becomes depressing to be with her for very long... Long tales of the misfortunes in her life and how she has been/is being wronged (by doctors, care workers, her own children.) That is why she is living alone. But occasionally we catch Obaachan on a good day, or coax her into talking of cheerful things. Yesterday when Tetsu and I visited, we brought rice cakes and sweets (which she loves) and she chatted quite awhile with us. Sorry about the pictures... the light was behind us but it was an accomplishment just to get her to pose.

I got her laughing when she noticed the shirt that I was wearing was one of her old kimonos that I had remade.

"I THOUGHT that looked familiar! At least you got it out of a box."

Though I worried that she would be horrified by the desecration of her expensive kimonos she has always been quite pleased to see me wearing them (albeit in a different form).

So, we made Obaachan happy with a New Year's Day visit. A good way to start the year!

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