My grandma and I at a friend's restaurant 2008

My grandma was a phenomenal caretaker. She provided for me in so many ways with my needs. When I needed anything, she was always right beside me. I was a sensitive, shy, and reserved little girl. Caring for me was not an easy task by any manner of means. And to be cared for in the way I was, it only goes to show how much she did care for me.

My single mother worked well into the night to make certain I was provided for. Because of this, I was at my grandma’s house for 5 days during the week. When the weekend arrived, I went to my mother’s apartment. There seemed to be more structure at my grandmother's place than my mother’s as I recall. For example, I was fed breakfast and lunch the same time and tucked in bed by 10 pm. By spending the majority of the week at my grandma’s, I called it “home.” However, this doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy occasionally staying up late at my mom’s though. Whenever the weekend came, I dreaded going over to my mom’s. She would often sleep in late until noon, while I was staring at a TV by 6 AM sharp. She always told me to eat something when I became hungry and I remember snacking on yogurt and juice I found in the fridge. When she was awake, she was often cranky so I learned to be quiet as to not stir the pot. Around this time I became great at reading people and behave as they wished. I remember being surrounded by a darkness that existed in my heart at that time, and I did not know how to talk to people about it. I would cry to my mom that I want to go back to my grandma’s often and I’m sure it saddened her. I came to the realization that my mom was fatigued and stressed from long work and many other things. She did the best she could to provide for me and for that, I’m grateful.

Together, eating 2008

I told my grandma everything and she always listened with curiosity. I can still hear her noises of interest when I told her something of interest. From the way she puckered her lips when she was listening and thinking at the same time. I told her when we had a teacher from America visited our school and gave us a Milkyway candy. I also remember telling her when my classmate accidentally peed in his chair, and when I got a good grade on a Harry Potter book illustration when I just copied the actual book cover. After I moved to the USA, because of our time differences, we communicated less frequently. There is a great distance between she and I today as a result. I would tell her what is happening in my life but a lot of the things are hard to explain because of cultural differences, so the things we talk now are generalized and short.

Thinking on it, it always surprises me when I think of the time when I left Japan to move to America, being so emotionally attached to my grandma when we parted, not a single tear was shed. Imagining a new life in America was so exciting to me at the time, and it was going to be an escape, an escape from Japanese school, which felt like a prison. Imagining America to be a utopia, a country where everything is allowed. I was also excited to finally have a figure called Father which I never had in my life. However, I see the distance between my grandma and me as a sign of my independence. It used to be that I needed her by my side all the time providing me with her warmth and that relationship changed. That I had grown and I had moved on as time had passed.

Taking a walk together

#grandma #mother #father #childhood

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