Sunday, 15 January 2017

So. Life. Ongoing.

Oblivious in Hokkaido.
Our life goes on. Me and Okaasan. While Dear Son is away in the family home clearing up his brother's life. The funeral is tomorrow.

A few close shaves when I thought Okaasan might find out. But I think we are safe. 

The lock company sent the bill to this address, so suddenly there was a letter from Okaasan's hometown...from a lock company. Addressed to DS. She saw it. Left it on the kitchen table. No comment.

Then yesterday DS sent a large box of his brother's stuff here. Again, it was sent from the family home etc. By DS himself. If Okaasan had seen the box and read the labels.

But she didn't. I caught sight of the delivery truck and ran down to meet the driver in the hallway, so he never rang the doorbell. I could take the box upstairs out of sight.


She's had a good, normal week.

Two visits and outtings with day service.

Two baths and a hair wash. FINALLY I managed to get the timeing just right and get into the bathroom with her before she stepped into the bath. Cheerfully started in with the water and the shampoo. Just a little resistence, before she enjoyed it and let me go ahead.
I got soaked though. Glasses got misty. Sweater got very wet. Have to perfect that skill. Maybe I should be naked too???!!! :-)

Okaasan continued to eat vast amounts. 4 bananas one day - but forgot the lunchtime rice in the microwave. Ate a whole packet of cookies. Anything I leave out really. 
Making and  forgetting many many cups of tea. Or pouring cold water on the powder and then having to start again.

And today I took her downtown for a walk in the underground shopping areas and then a sit with magazines in her fave coffee shop, while I sneaked away to catch Pokemons.

No. That isn't brother sitting next to her! It's foreign man...who might not like his photograph on the Internet. 

Anyway. She was happy. Let me lead her to her usual shop to buy magazines, order the usual coffee and cake. Happy to sit for an hour. She's quite passive. Happy, I think. I brought the car outside the coffee shop so she didn't have to walk any more. Her walking is much weaker now.

And so.

Brother will be laid to rest tomorrow.
A sad life really. To die at age 60 from a medical condition you get from overeating and drinking. To die with nobody noticing. No friends worried about where you are. No close family to worry.
He was a nice enough man. I only met him three or four times. I kind of felt he was a product of the Japanese business world of the 1980s and 90s. All work for the company good. No time for self. Happiness was working and making good contacts for the company.

Now Japanese companies are better at monitoring their staff health. Advising people who are too fat and unhealthy. But in his days they didn't. Work long hours. Travel. Stay in hotels. Eat bar and shop food. Drink. And by the time he was in his late 40s he had diabetes. His sight failed in his 50s. He died at 60.

Meanwhile his younger brother jumped out of the company rat race. Quit the job in his 30s and went off to follow his ski dream. Same family. But so different.

Anyway. Sad.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Be careful what you write...

Oh my. 

December 28th? What did I write about older sibling? Oh.

He has. 

DS's older brother has died.

Alone in the family home. DS called the police on Monday after a longer than usual silence from his brother. Last contact was November 1st. Then no response to phone calls, e mails or a letter.

A lock company broke a window at the house and the police went into a place full of mail and rubbish. And found a man.

Now DS has gone to the family home area to talk with police, arrange a funeral and close a person's life.

Really, we are still in shock. Something that we'd joked about - black jokes, we are that those kind of people - but the reality is a shock. At the age of 60, probably from serious diabetes. Alone. Maybe in November or December?

In this blog this man has always been characterized by me as Useless Older Brother. Useless in relation to Okaasan. No care for her. No interest. No help.

But he was a real person. And he has died. 

So. I'll put the criticism aside for now and just record the fact.

Of course, we hope to NOT tell Okaasan. Probably fairly easy. There was so little contact between them. He never telephoned or visited. She never talks about him. The trip we did in November 2015 to visit the family was almost certainly the last family visit. Okaasan's brother, who was the focus of that trip, has since died. And now her eldest son.

Of course, there is the house. Japan is funny about inheritance. Most families don't have wills. It all just trickles down. The house still belongs to Okaasan. For DS to make decisions about the future of the house he will probably need Okaasan's participation. But that may be just a matter of using her seal on documents. Hopefully she won't have to attend in person - because THAT would be a whole confusing experience. She isn't mentally up to that, but she would think she was in charge. Maybe easier to actually wait until she has died? Just leave the house empty? Then it will legally belong to DS and he can act easily.

Anyway. All of that is to come.

For this week there is a funeral of a man who died. Of course, I am staying here in Sapporo with Okaasan. Life goes on as normal.

Be careful what you write...

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Another year over...

Getting to be a custom this.

Last night of the old year. Here - alone - with wine and chocolate, the Tv show on Japanese TV. 

Probably won't make it to midnight. Too old.

Today was good.. I went to my favorite ski resort. Enjoyed long, long runs...met various young, friendly Chinese boarders and skiers. Caught Pokemons. Did the last shopping of the year on my way home. Dear Son hopes to be home tomorrow night.

Cooked Okaasan noodles and herring and veggies. Pretty successful this year. Made sure her TV was off the shopping channel and settled her down with the singing entertainment that ushers in a new year for Japan.

So. Here she is. Survived another year of care by casual neglect with her youngest son and the foreign girlfriend. 86 years old and hanging on.
A definite decline mentally and physically this year. But hanging on. I think she is happy, mostly. I hope so!

Thankyou for reading this blog this year. It's been very patchy in 2016. A bit boring. But I keep on. I am much more relaxed now in my role of daughter in law/carer. Better at ignoring the stuff that doesn't matter. Just letting her be. Kinder? I hope so...

Happy New Year from me and the cats...

Tonight millions of Japanese will go to shrines to pray for health and happiness in 2017. I hope to be healthier in 2017 (after I've finished off all the Christmas chocolate), and I hope to do more kayaking/hiking/travelling.

So. Feeling fat and sleepy.....certainly won't make it to midnight! 
See you in 2017.

Friday, 30 December 2016

New Year food shopping

Here we are again - heading into O-shogatsu. That most Japanese of times of the year. In which I attempt to give an old lady a traditional experience, while her family are busy elsewhere.
Me and Okaasan.
Well, maybe Dear Son might make a guest appearance. January 1st? Maybe.

Today was a busy day for Okaasan.
Partially because I felt guilty after a French course dinner with old colleagues, and then a Thai lunch with a friend. And a lovely morning skiing locally.
Time to put in some Okaasan service.

First it was bath time.
Then it was hair drying and brushing time! She let me! In between trying to pick up bits of trash off the carpet....
Then it was lunch.
Then I managed to get in and vacuum her room.
Then get dressed and car ride to the supermarket.

New Year food shopping.
There is still one more day, so I decided to see what she wanted to buy, and then buy what else we need tomorrow.

First the supermarket bakery.....where Okaasan honed in on a tray piled high with chocolate scones. I was glancing around for the tray and tongs that customers use in a Japanese bakery to take your selection.
Glanced back and found Okaasan grasping a chocolate scone in her hand and peering at it closely....waving it at me: "Look! this is good!"
Shop staff far right having a fit at the sight of a customer handling food!!!
 I'm bowing and apologizing, and running round a table of pizza slices to grab the tray and tongs - and get the scone OUT of Okaasan's hands and onto the tray.

Then we set off round the supermarket....

She pushed the trolley. Chose some fruit,  some fish paste roll, some sweet rice drink and a tray of New Year sweets.
That was it.
No interest in the noodles, no interest in the traditional vegetables or the rice cake....nothing. Really amazing. In past years I can remember dissuading her (or secretly grabbing stuff out of the trolley and reshelving it) from stocking up to cook and feed a crowd of guests. Or the year I had Japanese cooking lessons and made a load of stuff, and then she went out on December 31st and bought more....This year, no interest. A few bits.

Quite a change. Really. More like shopping with a child, who only sees what they want to eat. Sweet stuff, fish paste and rice drink. It was easy.

Okaasan waited patiently on a chair while I packed up the shopping, and then came back to the car willingly...with just a little pause near the bakery and the chocolate scones...

Phew. No piles of strange vegetables to prepare, cut and cook with soy sauce :-)


I leave you with that most traditional time of year...the bakery has created a bread tribute to the animal character of 2017..