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Thursday, February 8, 2007

Flight of the Matriarchs

. . . this is what we dubbed the sistersí trip to Japan. Five sisters, a daughter/niece, and a 17 month old grandson/grand-nephew gathered in the SeaTac Airport in preparation for our departure. The fun began immediately. You would have been impressed with the one small carry-on bag that each sister carried. It was the only luggage each one had, other than me. I was going on to the Philippines to do some workshops and training and class visitation there, after our three weeks in Japan. I had another very heavy bag with books and other materials.

Youngest sister and her husband were at the airport to meet us with a van. I am sure that trying to corral all of us and keep us in line was like trying to herd cats, to quote Kay. When we reached the Presidentís House on the campus of the Joshi Seigakuin College in Miyahara, where my brother-in-law was the president, we immediately went into our Six Sisters Together mode. Poor little Sky. He had to go from not having a maternal grandmother present all the time to suddenly having six grandmothers, all of whom wanted to hold him and talk to him and cuddle him. We also didnít know, at the time, about his food allergies. Much of what he ate didnít agree with him and we had reprises of most meals. Poor little guy. He also developed a bad rash on his face. We consulted the pharmacist, Mrs. Sakamoto at the store and the taxi driver, each of whom gave different advice. My theory is that it was also part of the reaction to the allergies. His mother was great at letting us all mother and grandmother her little guy.

The first stop on our Sisters Take Japan tour, was a visit with Billís brother and his wife. They were more than gracious. After a stay with them we went on to a Japanese Inn. We were ushered into a large tatami room, where we had tea before we had Japanese baths and dinner, all of us wearing our yukatas, a cotton Japanese robe. That is one of our favorite pictures.

We left for Takayama where there is a mission enclave and where our sister and her husband have a cabin. It is quite rustic but it is everyoneís favorite place. This is where the five oldest sisters went into their older sister mode. My youngest sister had made all the arrangement and had decided where everyone would sleep and what we would eat and what we would do but older sisters tend to overrule younger sisters. Mind you, our sister and her husband had been in Japan for 29 years. She had functioned as a teacher, as the wife of the president of the college, as a hostess, as one who was more than capable of functioning in every situation - and in two languages. If I recall, the sisters would sleep where they werenít supposed to, rearranged things and generally flouted all the civilized rules of being a house guest. We swept through the house and soon there was furniture being refinished, treasures from the beach were collected, hung and arranged. One sister planted a tree on a mound, and we accumulated more dishes. We loved the brightly colored, enameled cookware with improvised handles. We walked the beach and beach-combed. It is a great beach with marvelous shells and other things, such a brooms, buckets, sieves and so forth. We found all these things, and brought everything back to Cabin #1. I always find a hat Ė I love all of it. I refer to beach combing as going to the Beach Store.

We had a wonderful time in Japan and saw great sights and ate wonderful food, although my sister Eunice said that she had a hard time eating food that looked back at her. At a meal that Bill ordered for us, we had 11 courses. It was fabulous. I wonít give you a blow by blow account of the whole trip, but it was a great experience. I hated to leave early but I had to fly to Manila. Sunday, I left the sisters dressed in their church clothes pulling weeds in the garden. We all do that to the dismay and puzzlement of our husbands. Our philosophy is, there is no better time to pull a weed than when you first see it. I learned later that when Sky woke from his nap, he missed one of the sisters and cried, which made his mother cry, which made Youngest Sister cry - which makes me tear up thinking of it.

Is there anything better than family?

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