I'm sorry I'm still so immersed in this project that I haven't been able to break away to do any blogging. My daughter laughed when she called and said, "You haven't changed, Mom. You get into these projects and that's all you think about day and night." It's true. I can't seem to help myself. Art has to remind me to eat or do anything other than my obsession.
I couldn't find a family tree template that would work for me so I had to design my own and then cut out little names and dates and glue them on the template with a toothpick and tweezers. This took me TWO days! I've also been e-mailing relatives in Japan for information and confirmation.
Just as I was getting pretty tired of it all, my cousin, Ellen e-mailed to tell me how much she was looking forward to seeing this and what it meant to her. Now, I'm energized again!
Here's a little something from their past.
It was 1945. Japan was in the last dying gasps of the war. They began drafting even older priests. My grandfather was ordered to report for duty. He was very anxious about leaving his family behind to go to what he felt would be his certain death. He called his family together and gave them his final words and his farewell.
He told them to always remember their family philosophy:
Arigatai (Be thankful)
Mottainai (Never be wasteful)
#2 He admonished them to practice and perfect their penmanship because a person's personality is mirrored in their handwriting.
#3 Lastly, he begged them to always get along together and live in harmony, because in so doing they would be helping their mother when he could no longer be with them.
I've only spent a meager less than three weeks of my life with my grandfather in 1970 when I was a college student on my first trip out of the islands. (I must be honest in admitting that I wasn't jumping for joy when my mother told me that I must spend my ENTIRE free time of a six week trip/college credit course cloistered in a temple instead of adventuring with my friends.)
My grandfather had already been diagnosed with colon cancer but insisted on taking me to see the temple where he trained and other beautiful spots in Matsushima, Zao and Sendai. He seemed so awesome to me, wise, worldly, enlightened and yet he made sure to spend precious time with me and to encourage my artwork. I quickly got to know the rest of the family that I'd never really known existed and was in tears when it was time to leave. My birthday celebration, the day before my departure from Sendai was a pivotal point in my life... a birth of new realization that I had a family to love in Japan as well.
Now that I'm learning more about my grandparents, I'm happy to know what loving parents they were and what kind and good people I can call family.