Friday, April 10, 2015

Happy birthday?

Today’s coffee: Mother’s Day Blend (a bit early, but…)

I’m in a bit of a daze. Up until a few months ago, my grandfather was doing pretty well. I thought for sure he would make it until we go “home” to Seattle in July. I thought wrong. 16 years ago today, on the day after my 18th birthday, I lost my paternal grandfather. How ironic that I would lose my maternal grandfather on my 34th birthday.

I’m so disconnected from things on the other side of the pond that I’m not even sure what to think or feel. My family is going through a painful time, and I’m not there. Reverse culture shock aside, I’m kind of scared of the shock of how much has changed in the lives of friends and family when we go on home assignment.

But let me tell you about Granddad. Here’s my favorite picture of him, with my family’s cat, Indiana. Indiana did not want to sit on Grandmother’s lap, even though she desperately wanted him to. Instead, Indiana went to Granddad, who scratched him behind the ears with a smug look on his face. The cat looks pretty smug too. Heh heh heh. I printed out this picture and gave it to Grandmother.

Here’s a scene that could never have happened in Japan. Here you have to have a license to drive a boat. I’m pretty sure I was under-qualified at this age, but Granddad let me try anyway. I also have many happy memories of playing hide and seek on tiny islands and hand-feeding grapes and carrot sticks to deer together. When we came back to the boat, Grandmother, in the midst of dinner preparations, would complain how noisy we had been. “I could hear you halfway across the island!”

They were there for my high school graduation, my college graduation party (not pictured, since my face was mangled from a bike accident), my wedding… and they came all the way to Colorado for one of my recitals in college, although I can’t find a picture of that either. My parents, my brother, my cousins, and I were blessed to have them nearby, eager to help out and support us whenever we needed it.

And of course, we had lots of Christmas and birthday celebrations, too.

I'm not sure how old this picture is. I didn't change much in high school or college, but judging from my brother, I was probably 18 or 19?
Speaking of birthday celebrations, as I was trying to figure out what sort of frosting to put on my birthday cake (I was out of powdered sugar), I found this recipe—handwritten by Grandmother—in the file of recipes I scanned before we came to Japan. This frosting adorned the top of every birthday cake for at least 20 years. I didn’t make it this time (I didn't have corn syrup, and I'm not sure what “soft ball” really means), but my mom promises that we’ll make it together during our home assignment.

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