Tag Archive: Family

Jul 01

Goodbye, Mother

Yesterday, my mother returned to Canada after staying with us in Yokohama for a month. We miss her already. And not just for the scads of housework that she did, but for the fact that she moved in and instantly become a part of our home. Does this sound odd? After all, she is a member of the family…

But there are some people who suck energy (for lack of a better word) from one’s home, and there are some people who inject it, and my mother is one of the latter. She would have been content to have puttered around the house doing all our house chores and only going out to do groceries, and we would have been content if she’d sat in a chair, drank tea, and demanded frequent visits to Kamakura. Her presence was uplifting.


It can be sad when guests leave, but usually their departure is accompanied with a sense of relief. When my mother waved goodbye from the bus yesterday afternoon, all I could feel was that we, my wife, Hammy, and myself, were being separated from an integral part of our household. We all had a little cry. (Well, Hammy was crying because he’d pooped himself, but still…)


Goodbye, mother; we’ll see you this winter!



Nov 24

The Family Strong-Man

I just spoke to my father for what will probably be the last time. My Father


He didn’t answer; there was just the sound of the respirator. Or something.


My mother held the phone to his ear and I held my phone to mine. I didn’t realize at first that he couldn’t talk back.



When my father was born, talking to a dying relative from 10,000+ miles away would have been an impossibility. Now it’s so simple.




But that didn’t make it any easier.




My family keeps vigil over him in a Toronto hospital. I drink hot cocoa and have three empty cookie wrappers on my desk. I will soon go to sleep.


Will they wake me when he dies? I don’t sleep yet. I don’t cry. I don’t do the heavy-lifting of being there.


But I am now the family strong-man.

Nov 11

The Big “C” and the Big “D”

My parents have recently announced it to friends and family, and some of my own friends will know already the purpose behind my trip to Canada last month.


My father had been diagnosed with cancer.LINEcamera_share_2012-11-11-22-00-43


When I went to Canada in October, it was clear that his condition was serious, but it was still unclear how serious. The doctors were taking (what appeared to us, anyway) their own sweet time in figuring out what was wrong with him. Now they are quite clear about what’s wrong, and the prognosis is quite grim. Grim enough that I’ve dropped everything for the months of December and January and, thanks to the generosity of my Japanese family, am heading back to Toronto. (All with the knowledge that I may have to push that trip up even earlier if things take a turn for the worse, of course.)


I’ll be spending my first winter holiday season in Canada since 2004, and I’m not too happy about the circumstances.


I’m actually hesitating to book the tickets, and I can’t even put my finger on why. Is something telling me I’m going to have to go sooner? I’ve budgeted for that, so what is stopping me from pulling the trigger on that booking?


We went to get my father’s watch fixed today. He bought it here a couple of years ago and it’s never worked properly outside of Japan. This year, it stopped running together (we hadn’t realized that it was a solar watch—nothing in the 100% Japanese instructions made that clear, I guess), and so he asked me to bring it back with me to get it repaired. Apparently, the shop in Canada was reluctant to work on it.


K and I took it in to the watch counter at Yodobashi Camera today, and they told us the repairs would be 12,500円—almost half the cost of the watch new! The guy at the shop recommended that we give it one more chance to recharge and leave it in the sun for a few days. After some quick research online, I found a blog that suggested leaving under a fluorescent lamp would be the most effective way to try to jumpstart it—with results in 12-24 hours rather than a week sitting in the sun filtered through glass. If it doesn’t charge, I’ll take it back again on Tuesday and bite the bullet. I don’t want to wait too long, because they said the repairs could take 3-4 weeks, and four weeks is all I have before I fly to Toronto again.


If you are, by chance, expecting some piecing insight into cancer, or into having a family member on borrowed time, you’re not going to get it here. I just wrote about a watch, for fuck’s sake.


I regret nothing, but I can no longer live my life at such a distance from the people I care about. I don’t mean physically: I’ve made Yokohama my home. But I’m going to need to reorganize my life so that I can play a more active role in the life of my Canadian family. I thought I had time, but I don’t.


So the closest thing to a useful thought comes through my head when I look over and see the button I made on tour in 2010 with my acting motto on it:


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