Thursday, November 27, 2014

An Apple Remembers Its Tree

I think about my mom every day. Every single day. I thought as time progressed, this kind of thing would fade, but it hasn't. In fact, in a lot of ways, my feelings about her have intensified. I wonder about that because it has been four and a half years since she died. It just seems like I should miss her less. 

Today, because of a phone call, my thoughts turned to another influential woman in my life. To be honest, I never got to spend a lot of time with her on a consistent basis because she usually lived in a different country. Her influence comes through my mom, on whose life she had immense influence. 

I call her Obaachan--because that's Grandma in Japanese. She was always a fun grandma. Until she moved into a nursing home a few years ago, she never forgot her grandkids' birthdays. Of course, there are only three of us, but still, she always remembered. 

I have never heard of someone else's grandma being a champion Dr. Mario player. Yup. Back in the '90s, she was the queen of the Nintendo. I recall that she wouldn't allow even her beloved grandchildren to interrupt her game. Or even have a turn.

My Obaachan's life story is fascinating. She grew up during World War II in rural Japan. When she was still a teenager, her parents arranged a marriage for her, to a man she had only seen in passing once or twice. 

As a young person, I heard she was quite the town beauty. I saw a picture of her when she was nineteen years old. Yeah--she was beautiful. She acquired a reputation for always being on the cutting edge in fashion. I also heard she was a master knitter. Actually, I know she was an exceptional knitter. She knitted gloves for me once. Gloves. As in, not mittens.

And she was so funny without meaning to be. There was a time when she would stock up on milk whenever she knew I would be visiting. If you know me, you know that I don't drink milk. No matter how many times I went to her house and didn't drink the milk, no matter how many times I told her that milk made me sick, she kept buying the milk. Because Americans drink milk.

Her kids don't remember ever seeing her cook while they were growing up. Yet somehow, I know her as a magnificent cook. I have fond memories of many meals she prepared. 

One thing I know about my Obaachan is that she always wants to eat something delicious. The problem is, nothing tastes good to her. In the decades that I have known her, the only thing that she has eaten and liked were some random watermelons along the way. Seriously. I got a kick out of eating something with her or getting a treat for her, and then waiting to see how long before she commented that it totally sucked. Maybe that's more commentary about me, but I thought it was funny. 

Grandkids have always been her favorite.

Today I got a phone call. It was my aunt. The one who lives in Japan. Since it is Thanksgiving, my first thought was that she was calling to wish me a happy T-day. But then I realized that didn't make sense, and I knew that my Obaachan was gone.

Tsuyako Yamane Watanabe, May 13, 1931 - November 28, 2014. 

I'm sure I will think about her every day.

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