Friday, May 09, 2014

The Importance of Sharing: A memoir of me and my mom.

It's May 8th, 2014. I've officially been here since very early Sept. 2012. When I got here I already knew my mom's memories were pretty much gone. Not that I haven't tested it to see for sure, but yeah, the memories of the past aren't really there. And yet, there have been times when I've talked with her about the past and the feelings I had about what was going on then and it seems we are able to connect life to life. And tho she can't tell me the story of her life, and she certainly can't teach me about anything she learned about life, which I'll get to later, there are things we CAN share. And when we do, THAT is when I feel "right". And tho I want to connect with her more, for some reason I find it very difficult to summon the energy to do so now. 

I had the energy after my eldest aunt and my cousin came to visit in January of this year, 2014. There had been magic then. It was so incredible to feel life actually be what it should feel like. There we strong connections with them while they were here staying at mom's. My Japanese is extremely poor--I've lost most of what I learned when I was 19 living in Japan for 6 months. This was the aunt I lived with while I was there. I was never more normal than when I lived in Japan. And by normal, I mean more naturally myself than I have ever been in the United States. They are polite, they have a culture that is all about family and our relationships with each other, and they have deeply embedded social protocols that work to keep the peace in society. It isn't perfect because people aren't perfect, and there are always issues to deal with, but for the most part, they are a very civilized people. I haven't done well here in America. 

Which is essentially the beginning of the story. My mother is Japanese. She was born in 1934. November 13th to be exact. In Tsurumi, Japan. This is just south of Tokyo maybe 10 miles. The thing is, she was born and raised in Japan, married an Army GI, came to America, and had me, in addition to other things. But she didn't speak to me in Japanese and I so I didn't really learn it even tho she spoke it to others and to herself, tho some expressions were often repeated and I did learn those. Just not much else. This was America. She wanted me to be American and than meant speaking English. Which I did. Eventually too well for her to understand given the relative size of my vocabulary compared to hers. I eventually came to realize this was going to hurt us later on. And tho I had learned some Japanese during my 6 months there when I was 19, it wasn't enough and I'd need to continue classes to continue learning it. But somehow that got derailed and I never continued after that. And not being Japan anymore I reverted back to life in America. Huge mistake. 

It was from this point forward that things went off track and never seemed to get back on. Although this wasn't the first time it had happened, this particular moment essentially determined the nature of our relationship from then on. The importance of sharing had never been more critical than this moment. After I got back from Japan, I kept waiting for my mom to ask me how was my trip. She never did. If she had I would have told her I wanted to go back. Years later I did finally ask her if I had told her I had wanted to go back to Japan, would she have sent me? I don't remember her exact words but, yes, she would have. One of so many missed chances for us to connect and yet we never did. She was a tough cookie. 

From the beginning she had been tough, but she did tell me that the birth had been painful. She went home before I did because they kept me in the incubator for 9 days. I had been premature and weighed only 3 lbs 12 ozs and 16+ inches long. I was tiny. But being kept in the incubator that way in those, and I don't know how much she visited me during that after she went home, meant that we didn't really bond that strongly. I was, of course, dependent on her for everything during all these early years and wanted to have a kind and loving relationship with her, but like many people I've meant, it didn't happen. In knowing how things were for me I wanted to do better for my own daughter. I didn't want to repeat so many of the same mistakes my mom had made. But there is one I did repeat and that was that my daughter didn't learn Japanese either. If only my mom and I had been able to talk. If only.

As it is now, it's all too late. I got here too late, learned about her CHF too late, and because docs are now just glorified technicians and pill pushers now, the cancer in her gall bladder went completely undetected despite attempting to get it properly investigated a whole year before it hurt bad enough to take her the ER. And come to find out, it was not only cancerous, it was gangrenous. She had a decaying organ inside her body. Unfortunately, the ultrasound they did on it the year before revealed nothing. The ultrasound tech kept focusing on the blood vessels and I kept thinking they needed to be looking for masses or abnormalities in the organs. But that didn't happen and thus that ball got dropped. And since mom didn't complain of any pain, except when you pushed on it but otherwise nothing, it slipped right by even me. It now seems to be engulfing her liver as she is having daily pain in that area. 

I'm gonna miss you mom. And I will continue mourning since I got here for the loss of all that I was supposed to be able to share with you of your life. There was supposed to be time for us to be together, for me to spend time with you, truly learn who you are as my mother and as the person you are. We lost out on so much with each other. I know it's great I'm here now so you can be at home, but for me, there is just so much of your life, how you lived, how you got on, and how you did things. And then to be able to share some of myself with you, and to do things for you and keep track of your health and have you teach to cook Japanese food. And there was sewing, crocheting, knitting which I also did. But most all, the gardening. I had a big one, at least for me at 25 ft. x 25 ft. at dad's. And you had begun gardening way back before I went to Washington in '92. That was at the apartment on 157th behind Gemco which is now a Target. Aw geez, I really wish we could have settled down and had a house but I guess that wasn't something Norman wanted to do. I have no idea why not, other than to punish you for the things you did he felt hurt by whether you intended it or not. You were a gold-digger mom, and not the kindest person. More like a stone bitch but that's how I saw you. You were a tough cookie.

Hey folks, this is how karma actually works. It is true that what goes around, comes around in the sense of reaping what you sow. Oddly enough, the brings up something I was just thinking about earlier tonight, about how karma and chaos theory actually go together. One's life is largely determined by the circumstances into which one is born. Those circumstance, plus all the external conditions of life at the time, have a great impact on the track one's life can take. This is called "dependence on initial conditions." Even hair's breadth off can change everything for good or ill. I had asked her a few months ago if her life had turned out the way she expected or wanted it to go. The impression I got from her was it had not. And I don't think she had been happy for all that much of it. She never got the kind of recognition she had wanted nor did she ever find the right man to shower her with money and luxury and treat her like a queen, except perhaps very briefly at the end before I arrived to live here.

She created me with her own anger. At me for having ruined her plans to divorce my dad and go her merry way. She asked him for one but he didn't grant it and I think a lot that had to do with me. It may also have just the way my dad was cuz he was that way too, and so he never remarried nor even sought out a female companion. He wasn't interested in sex and so that was never a driver for him. And actually, he was a pretty content man with just him and his dogs at home, and good friends to visit quite often. It's a small town in rural southern MN and he'd known some of them since school days. There's something to be said for that kind of life. So, I grew up with him after he retired from the Army but my mom was definitely not happy. Dad was not her kind of man and life with him was just agony in many ways. And then there was this child, her child, but not a wanted child, especially because my dad was not my biological father. This was a secret she kept from him until I was around 7 and she had seen the sperm donor and discovered it had only been a one night stand for him. She thought it had been more but it took 7 years to find she basically meant nothing to him. At which point she tells my dad the truth. I'm not sure why she did other than to simply come clean of it. But still, if she had really wanted the divorce years before, she should have told him then, and then he might have granted the divorce. Too late to know any of that now. I was 18 by the time I found out about it. Mom did talk about a few things before I went to Japan. Not that I paid it much mind at the time as it seemed too much like a soap opera and I didn't, and still don't, care about all that. But she did tell me other things about her life, about her thoughts and feelings about my dad, some of which I understand and see her points.

I really wish we could have talked. Unfortunately, it's time for bed now. Goodnight.

May 9, 2014 1:30 am.