Sunday, 29 November 2009

Home at last.

My step-mum is home at last and I spoke to her for a good chat on the telephone. She sounded stronger and so happy.
Who knows what happens from this stage. But at least she's reached this stage. 6 months of a complete turnaround in life.
You go out one day in the car to just take someone home in the next village. And never come back.

Step-mum is being for by a live-in, private agency carer at the moment because she is very unsteady walking and many things like washing and toilet are a big effort still. The carer is booked until the beginning of February and then there will be an assessment to see whether she can get along with less care - somebody coming in from the local council twice a day maybe.
All very expensive. But thanks to the great British Health Service she's had 6 months of free care, so time to spend some of that money that was "put away for a rainy day". I think it's raining good and proper now!

*** and the other night? Did I have to have a dinner-a-deux with Okaasan? No. VERY luckily Yujiro's job interview finished and he came home in time to save me THAT stress. It will come soon, another day. This time I escaped.

Snowing and cold now in Sapporo. Okaasan is staying tucked into her kotatsu (heated table blanket) in front of the TV. And tonight I am gonna cook couscous for dinner...let's see how she likes that...

AND!!! I have borrowed a friend of a friend's oven, so I can cook turkey this Xmas. For the first time in Japan I will be able to cook my own Xmas dinner properly. Yeah!!!!
AND!!! I ordered a Xmas tree from the flower shop. $30 for a tree, but I deserve a very very good Xmas this year.

Friday, 27 November 2009's you...

Came home last night around 8.30 pm.
Yujiro was out at a ski instructor meeting. He'd ordered in sushi for Okaasan and left her with it at the end of the afternoon.
She was sitting amid the living room rubbish with the sushi plate, watching TV.
"Ahh? Good evening? Ahh? Where's Yujiro? Isn't he with you?"
SO disappointed!!! I should buy a dog so I can get a big, warm welcome!

I chatted to her a bit while I cooked my own dinner, chatted about the weather and how ski instructor "meetings" are usually drinking parties etc...joke...joke...It's always the problem with my conversations with her- nothing to do with language ability or Oyome-san Hatred...I just don't have the shared memories as a family member or even as the same nationality to natter on about shared-knowledge stuff...

I feel that I come home from a day of helping students talk in ME struggling for something to say in Japanese.

Anyway. Tonight he has a job interview and I'll cook dinner and maybe...hopefully...he'll join us later.
Okaasan and Oyomesan are gonna sit down at the table together. What WILL I talk about?

* I wrote to the Contented Dementia writer in the UK to ask if there is a Japanese translation of his book. He said not yet.

* An 82 year old student who lives in a Care Assisted Home told me that her neighbor has dementia...and has got worse over the past 3 years. Why do I keep hearing "3" years from people?

*  My step-mum is home finally. But I kept trying to call and get no answer. The Care Assistant and she are busy I am sure getting set up. I got through to the Carer last night, but she said Jane was resting....anyway...I have sent some flowers and she knows I am thinking of her.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Life at 51...him NOT me!

Yujiro's birthday today.

Last year: we were carefree singles and I spirited him away to a surprise Birthday Trip to India where we Couch Surfed with a businessman in south Delhi and rode the train to the Taj Mahal (giving my students the jitters because hardly anybody knew where Mumbai was at the time of the attacks...but we were safely half a country away.)

This year: joint trip to the dentist, a curry buffet lunch and a disaster movie.
Oh and we have an Okaasan creating a little stress at home.

MY highlight-of-the-day was that the dentist gave me the All Clear! After a year of terrible life stuff and practically zero self-care it is amazing.
While Yujiro was in the chair I managed to walk slowly round the bookshop and look at Japanese books about dementia. I want to get one for HIM to read so he has more understanding of where Okaasan is coming from. Ideally a book along the same lines as the one I read, so we are on the on the same page with her care and management.
No! Not actually as a birthday present for him! Nobody needs that. But just as a general read for our ongoing life.

I ran out of time and couldn't remember the author's name of the book I'd read anyway - so came away empty handed. But is it is SO good to be able to walk round a big bookshop now. My walking is finally strong enough to do things like this, at the weekend I even managed to walk the airports and train stations - although my knee was swollen and hurt.

Back to birthday.
We went to our favorite curry restaurant and I cued the staff into the Birthday Boy - so he got Happy Birthday sung in Hindi and WE got free mango icecream.
Then he slept on a sofa in the movie theater and I drifted slowly round a few shops.
Then GREAT disaster movie 2012. John Cusack can come and rescue me ANYTIME. And Adam Lambert sings the theme song. Woody Harrelson as a Messianic DJ good too.

Then back to our real life.
It was 7.15 pm.
From the movie theater car park Yujiro called Okaasan to check she had eaten something in the kitchen or ordered a delivery dinner. In the morning he had primed her on all of this called her at lunchtime too.
Okaasan answered the phone with such an awful down, down voice. Sounded like almost in tears: " I'm watching Tv, I haven't eaten anything, I'm watching TV...."

We hurried home. Bought good sushi to take to her. Burst through the kitchen door 30 minutes later.
Okaasan staggered out of her living room clutching an empty bowl of instant ramen. The kitchen was a clutter of  two cooking pans, FIVE bowls with the remains of food, a few cups of half-drunk tea....
She was fine. Had obviously eaten stuff he had left for her. And her own snack food. Absolutely NO PROBLEM. But she didn't remember any of it.
We sat her down with the sushi. But she didn't want it. "I'm full, I ate ramen!"
So we ate it and sat at the table for a bit with her chatting.
Then Yujiro made the mistake of going into her room to check the heating and got ambushed by the trash - he was starting to stress out about that. Which NOBODY needs on their birthday night.
I managed to persuade him to leave the trash for tomorow and come upstairs to drink sparkling wine and finish celebrating 51 years.

Okaasan had no idea it was his birthday. She doesn't really know what day it is ever, so we didn't surprise her with that info.

But her voice on the phone and her mood. That was awful. A day on her own at home and she sounded so, so down. She actually coped with the food, in  a rough and ready kind of way. She didn't go hungry. She can help herself and do simple heating up of leftovers or make instant ramen.
But her spirits were so down.
If she wasn't living with us this is how it would be for her. Long, gloomy days in front of the TV. Not knowing if she's eaten or not. Stumbling around in her pajamas among piles of clothes and old newspapers and trash.

Our life has changed in the last year. But we do a Good Thing.

But she isn't good left on her own too long. Tonight I have to work until 8 pm and he has to go to a ski school meeting in the evening, so she'll be alone again. He'll be at home during the day and hopefully can leave around 6 pm and leave food out for her.

I wish we were linked in to the city care system already so that we could arrange Meals on Wheels for Okaasan. When HE starts work more full-time away from home, I just fear Okaasan will have to do more time alone at home and her mood will plunge like it did today.
But for that she first has to go to a doctor and get appraised. And that isn't happening yet.

That's why I want to get him reading a book about Dementia so he can understand how these Black Holes of Mood are not good for her.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Escape to non-Okaasan Life

I had a great weekend!
Escaped Life with Okaasan by going down to Saitama for 2 nights to see the women I used to share apartments with when I first came to Japan.
Lots of chat about our lives and stuff - lot of food....lots of drink. Lots of laughs.

I met these women when they were in their late we are all into 40s and our lives are full of men and babies, Okaasans, job stresses, family illness. It was great to reconnect and remember together.

Yujiro emailed me Sunday night to say Okaasan had JUST come home: at nearly 10 pm!
She was out downtown as usual late afternoon.
He monitored her on the GPS and saw she was in a department store. At 8.30 pm he telephoned her and asked if she'd like to come home for dinner, she said she had had an incontinence accident and was buying more underwear.
After that? Well probably she walked WEST from the department store for a few blocks, then back to the store...and then instead of going down into the store basement and getting on the subway home...she walked all the way UP town to the main station and got on the subway there....finally arriving home at nearly 10 pm.

She hasn't stayed out so late for ages. At least it wasn't really cold. But it can't be good for her.
No way to stop her. Unless we call her around 6.30 pm and remind her about heading home for a 7 pm dinner. Maybe that is a good idea.

One of my Saitama friends is a public health official, she talked to me a lot about getting city help for Okaasan. I know. I know. But FIRST has to come a doctor's assessment. And Yujiro is stalled on THAT idea for now.

anyway. Gotta go to work.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Step-mum heading home!

Just a quick posting.

My step-mum is going to be sent home from hospital NEXT WEEK!

Of course she'll have round-the-clock care with a live-in carer - because there are many things she can't do for herself and it will be a hard process for her to be out of hospital - but FINALLY she can be in her own space. And I guess that finally too she can do the real grieving for her husband, because once she is in their home surrounded by all their memories and things - I think his death will be a big reality for her.

And I just booked an airticket for England. January 1 to 9...surprisingly JAL had the best deal....because I have to fly down to Tokyo first, so the Japanese airlines can do the domestic leg cheapest.

Back to work.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Bouncy Okaasan...Deflated Oyomesan.

Okaasan is on a roll.
She's animated and coherent and lively. The trip to the Hula Dance Event made a big difference to her - of course, not sitting in front of the TV vegetating is great for the brain.
She even initiated a conversation with me - following up a morning greeting in the kithen with chat about the Japanese tourists who died in a fire in a Koren shooting gallery. It's so different to a week ago!
Maybe she'll even do some clearing up in her room - I can see from the kitchen that the old newspaper pile is reaching a critical mass point.

Meanwhile I think my body is fighting off some virus...probably THAT influenza.
I've felt tired and tearful all week. Had a sore throat Monday. Aching bones yesterday. Cold. I came home last night and had a bath at 5 pm...then dozed OFF during dinner...and finally crashed into bed at 8 pm nd slept until 4 am.
Today we have to get the car through its MOT and I have to find some way to use my airmiles for going to England during the winter break. I've also got business accounts to bring up to date and an 11-week course of classes to plan for next year. No time to be sick now!
It's a real Catch 22 - go in the winter holidays and can't use air miles - or go out of the holiday season and lose money from not teaching. Anoher teacher has said she'd cover my January 7 class and it might just give me the time to get a non-peak time ticket.

But the great news is that Jane is maybe going home in December - and she has had one whole week of eating by mouth - mashed up food, but real food.
Dad would be so happy - food was so central to his world and he was desperate for Jane to rejoin him in that. And finally, 6 months after the car crash she is 100% on mouth eating again.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Hula! Hula!

Okaasan had a big day out today - about 500 hula dancers from all over Hokkaido got together to boogie in the Prince Hotel. From 1 pm until 8.30 pm! That's quite some boogie.

Yujiro delivered her to the Prince by subway because I had to use the car for work, and Okaasan had a great time.
She looked pretty knackered when he brought her home tonight though. And she wasn't sure if she'd eaten dinner or not...but they must have had some kind of food at an event going from afternoon to evening...and it all cost Y10,000!

Last night she told Yujiro that she didn't want to go to the hairsalon I introduced her to back in the spring...: it's no good, but don't tell Amanda....
Well of course a hairsalon is a personal thing and many women change salon for genuine reasons. If I gave Okaasan the benefit of the doubt I'd imagine it was actually because the salon is no good...but it IS Okaasan and I can also understand that she's probably taken a dislike to the place for some Only Logical to Okaasan reason....way back she was upset because she said someone had written down on a memo that she has the time I thought it might be the hair salon....and maybe this is something of that coming back again....or maybe she had a toilet emergency in the salon seat and is embarrassed to go back...or....whatever.
Anyway - there are plenty of salons in town to work her way round for the next few years!

In class this front of 6 students...I tried to sit down on a chair with roller tangled in my long skirt...and fell  sprawling on the classroom floor....and then cos of the gammy knee...couldn't get up and had to be HELPED up by the students.

It was awwwwful.

Until now my most embarrassing classroom experience ever was getting back to the teachers' room after a class and finding my blouse button had popped open mid-clevage...but today - oh NOOOOO!!! Today was awful.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

A successful day of feeding.

It's a paella....
Last week we saw a TV program where a cook made 4 different dishes - paella, beef stew, spaghetti AND chicken croquettes in 20 minutes. Very  impressive!
While we don't aspire to do all of that, we thought the paella looked good. So tonight THIS was my creation - with many thanks to the TBS TV program young cook.
It worked!
A busy day of trying to get stuff done. And achieving some of it.
Yujiro was working as a gardening test adjudicator, yes there IS such a temp agency job, so he was out all day. I did housework, fed the Okaasan on stuff from the fridge and gave her a bit of chat...she still seems fine, but I am feeling a little cautious about her because I've seen the OTHER OKAASAN. And it was scary.
Had lunch with a friend, checked at the travel agents  about how expensive airtickets to ther UK will be in Xmas and New Year....hung around.....and it rained all day....

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Petless in Sapporo

Well, now Okaasan is back on track.
Back to more important topics.
The big Gap In Our Home.
No cat.

The other evening Yu and I talked about cats, i.e. when is a good time to get one.

And he stunned me by saying:
a) Before I met you and Bob I always thought pet owners were kind of selfish, because who knows if the pet really wants to live with this person. They have no choice.
b) Pet shops are awful places (well, this I agree with), buying an animal is like buying a baby. It's bad.
c) Picking up a kitten from the park is equally bad because it's mother would be upset. Or at least - who knows how a mother cat feels? Just because YOU want a pet in your home there is no reason to take a kitten from the home and mother it knows in the park.

And he cried about Bob. Again.

Man, men often say that some women can turn on the waterworks and after that you can't reason with them.....that's how I felt. The cold, callous...selfish woman who wanted to snatch a kitten from it's mother's furry embrace and spirit it away to my sofa.

Hmmm. Don't know what to do now.
I never thought pet shop.
But I did hope park or the pregnant black cat that lurks around my garden.

Now I am not so sure.
Added to the mix is the uncertainty about me and England. Will I be going again? For Christmas?
My step mum is still in hospital and weak, but eating a bit and walking a bit. There is a meeting of her doctors soon to decide whether she can go home next month. Obviously with a full-time carer.

If she is home for Xmas should I/ought I go back to England for Xmas (and the airticket will NOT be covered by airmiles yet again because it's peak period)? Should I go just after Xmas....?

And if I am that unfair on a cat. And Yujiro.

Wish  could just be selfish and go grab me a cat from the park right now. Instead I have to be all realistic and think about England and airtickets and work and obligations. Bugger.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Sweet Okaasan Returns

She's back!
The sweet old lady who giggles and smiles at Oyomesan.
Did she forget the awfulness? Did she decide to forgive? We'll never know (and she certainly won't  know).

But Wednesday night dinner was definately different in mood: lighter, brighter, carefree. She and Yujiro chatted away and I just layed low at the table a bit. But Yujiro and I both felt the change. Okaasan smiled and chatted.

Then yesterday as we rushed to get out of the house in the morning Okaasan was standing at the bottom of the stairs as I came down them one step at a time with all my bags.

"How is the knee? Is it still painful?" she asked!!!!!!!
Actual direct conversation to me on an old topic. Amanda = Bad Knee.
I told her my stock answers for the moment: Getting Better. Still Painful Sometimes. Still Having Rehabilitation Treatment.
It was a normal conversation.

And again at dinner. Normal. She laughed. She listened to things I said. She asked me questions about the food.

It was Return of the (Sweet) Okaasan.

Mind you - the bad feelings lasted almost a week. So I'm gonna be so so careful from now on about keeping her sweet. The Bad Oyomesan Memories must be kept at bay.

* PS   I am writing this at work! I got a laptop and this morning is my first day to have it in use at work. I can see hours and hours of computer word games this winter.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Mission Accomplished

Did it.
A night at home without Okaasan knowing the evil woman was upstairs.
Had to pee in the trash box though....

Did you need to know that?
Sheryl in Canada DID ask me!!
So I wanted to share that information with my dear readers.

A shameless, rude, stealing Oyome-san.

But the BEST news last night - they have finally caught the nasty piece of work who beat NOVA English teacher Lindsay Hawker to death.
THAT is great news.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Shhhhhhhhhhh!!! Second floor ghost.


Here I am quietly having an evening at home on the second floor - so that Okaasan doesn't know I am here.
So I don't have to have dinner with her.
I came home about 5.30 pm having bought the most luxury instant ramen and some salad at the supermarket.
We have a kettle upstairs and some bowls. I can eat a simple dinner.
Okaasan came home at 6.15 pm and Yujiro called her at 6.20 to tell her what was on the stove etc for dinner (heat up some curry and do the rice in the microwave, miso soup in the pan.) He told her I was out working.

I am upstairs quietly. I can hear her shuffling around downstairs.
She has the TV on loudly, so she'll never hear me.
If she actually starts a fire in the kitchen I'll go and rescue her. Otherwise she is on her own.

The only problem is the toilet..and I think I can hold out to about 8 pm...or I'll just have to go in our second floor trash box...

Over. And out.

Conversation teacher...who can't converse.

Yesterday was ok on the Okaasan-front.
My morning routine I don't have to come into contact with her - and I came home for an hour at 5 pm - she was sitting watching TV - and I went out for evening classes - came home at 9 pm and she was asleep.

A good day.

BUT... Yujiro let drop last night (in the dark when we were in bed!!) that he has a job training tonight at 7 pm downtown.
No way. I can't do dinner with Okaasan alone. Absolutely no way.
I'll go out and eat somewhere else...or quietly upstairs.
She can help herself to stuff in the kitchen.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

And would you care for more rice?

Cooked dinner.
Served dinner.
Okaasan passably polite.
She responded at the right moments to the basic service-level conversation.

It was enough for now.

Tomorrow is my step-mum's 83 birthday. She is still in hospital and hopes to go home by Christmas..but we don't know if she will be strong enough. I'll try and call her tomorrow.

Time to get back to MY life and let Okaasan be.

Silent Night...all is blurggghhhh

Another silent dinner last night.

But at least the baseball was on, so I could look at the screen in between looking at my food or the plate.
The local baseball team got stuffed by the Manchester United of Japanese baseball - and it was all good cover for 3 people sitting at a table when 2 of the people aren't communicating.

In fact it isn't SO unusual for us - most of our 3-some meals up till now have been mainly Yujiro monologues, with responses from Okaasan and I, or he and I talk and she eats. Or they talk and I eat. She and I don't really ever chat to eachother much unless I get her on a circular memory train (Korean food is best/Cape Town has 4 Japanese schools/we didn't have food wartime/ I went to the Honolulu Marathon with a friend) and she chats along and I respond with interest.

It may be a side effect of her developing dementia: Okaasan never actually initiates a conversation. It's all responses. Funny this, I noticed of course because I am a language teacher. She doesn't START a conversation with Yujiro at all - she is silent until he says something that she then responds to. Is this a memory thing? She doesn't remember the last few minutes, so she isn't aware that she hasn't spoken? I will probably read around this topic a bit because it is quite pronounced I think. Even in the best of times when she is not Sending Bad Oyome-san to Coventry.

I'm actually well-trained in passive dinner table experiences: my mother and step-father used to have nasty bickerings at dinner when I was a teenager and I was very good at keeping my head down to eat and letting them sling the insults. So lunch was ok - I ate and glanced occasionally around the kitchen and did a few exchanges with Yujiro.

Today Yujiro and I went out to enjoy the autumn warmth and explore some places for his last few photographs. Then we came home and I cooked lunch for all of us: Silent Lunch. He chatted. I ate.

After lunch I left son and mother washing up and chatting and I went out to clear the garden for winter. Okaasan came out and stood on the front doortep for a while, and said nothing to me as I pruned a pot plant in the entrance area. Later she went out - and I was actually sitting ON the front door steps cutting and putting flowers in a vase.

She walked right past me as she was heading out! Didn't say a thing!

It's hard to explain to non-Japanese or anyone who has never lived in Japan quite how rude this is - greetings on arrival and departure are essential in this country. I expect murderers bow at the door and call out a formal greeting word before they come in to slash your neck.

I was amazed. Okaasan is a very polite person. She comes from a naturally polite generation.

So I called her out on it.

I stood up from the step and said the greeting word to her retreating back.
That stopped her.
She turned round and was all confused.
I said it again. And then added that even though were were not friendly at the moment - basic politeness was a good idea.
She said:" Didn't I say it? Didn't you hear it?"
But of course she and I both knew she hadn't said it at all.
So she said the greeting and scurried away.

I don't know whether to tell Yujiro or not. It's so petty on one level - but so indicative of her feeling about me on the other. I STILL think we should have a Family Meeting and talk this out.

I am NOT a bad person. I am trying to help her son care for her. I may have made a mistake (we still don't know whether she ever found the missing magazine in the recycle box, cos I certainly don't have it!!), and while I will apologise for a mistake I will certainly not apologise for something I did not do.

In the meantime: Silent Meals, Forced Greetings. I am becoming a ghost in my own home?

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Escape to Sanity

Chickened out last night, called a friend and went round to her place for pizza and non-alcoholic beer instead of another Silent Stressed Dinner with my accuser.
I'm over-dramatatising you think?

Anyway - good to have any evening away and I expect Yujiro enjoyed it more too, not having to worry about the two women in the household. He has been wonderfully supportive of me in this - I can't imagine what it would be like if he wasn't. And many men...specially Japanese men...would step aside and say: "none of my's womens stuff".

So I sneaked home after 10 pm when Okaasan was safely snoozing under her heated table in front of the TV.

And this morning: I broke the sheet ice and made her do a "Good Morning" to me.
I was in the kitchen washing up our breakfast plates. She was in the bathroom washing todays millions of pairs of underwear.
She walked once through the kitchen and said nothing to me.
So I counted to 10...turned round and went near the bathroom door and chorused out a firm: "Good Morning!" ( in Japanese of course).

NO Japanese person can fail to respond to this. I expect even the Sad People Who Lock Themselves Away From Life in Their Rooms do it...

And Okaasan...actually with a toothbrush in her mouth...couldn't fight generations of social conditioning...she HAD to respond. Maybe not "in kind"...but a response anyway."Good morning!".

Hunt the newspaper. Okaasan phoned Yujiro from downstairs this morning and claimed the newspaper hadn't been delivered. He went downstairs...hunted around her room...and found it...under her pillow.
I am so SO vindicated.

Victors can be generous in their "Good mornings".

Tonight is the last of the baseball massacres for Nippon Ham, the local team. We are planning a TV dinner so I expect I can do that. Sit and eat together at the table in front of the talking necessary.

I can do that.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Licking wounds in the corner.

Hokkaido's baseball team the Fighters just got trounced by the Giants in the last gasp inning.
And I lost my Dinner Battle.
Lost against myself actually. I failed to keep control of myself and retreated in exhaustion.

I thought all day what to do. How to handle it. Wanted SO badly to just run away and see a movie tonight, have dinner with a friend...anything rather than come home.
But at 5 pm I decided that this is MY home too and nobody is going to stop me coming back and having an evening in it.

So I came home and was determined to be all light and non-judgemental. My mother was a fighter with people, but she did also tell me to always Face The Mess You Made and get over it.

But by the time I got to the kitchen all that went out the window.
Yujiro had the nabe on the table. We gathered ourselves and sat down, I couldn't look up.
 Just couldn't. I kept my head down and just ate silently.
Had to cut the food up pretty small with chopsticks to give myself enough to do on the plate!
Yujiro blathered on about the quality of the meatballs. Okaasan giving him the necessary responses.

When we'd finished the nabe stuff they discussed putting noodles in the soup.
I cleared my bowls up. Put them in the sink and excused myself. Left the kitchen and came back upstairs.

Yujiro followed 20 minutes later..
BUT ! He was pissed off with me because I'd started eating the nabe before it was ready (while he was still putting meatballs in)...which of course is pretty rude...although it's something we would do if it was just the two of us.

I'd been in such a funk and so desperate to give myself something to DO at the table I hadn't realized I was eating alone. I wasn't actually LOOKING at them anyway....fixed my eyes firmly downwards.

So now I am a Magazine Robber AND a Rude Foreigner.

I wonder if the French Foreign Legion accepts 48 year old Brits with gammy legs?
I want to say FUCK loudly many many times.

It might help.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Okaasan vs Oyomesan - FIGHT Club!

Had a big fight with Okaasan at lunchtime.
Not sure who has won.
We're not actually talking to eachother yet. Whether that is through choice or habit I don't know.

War broke out at lunchtime when I asked Okaasan something and she didn't answer. Just continued eating.
Yujiro asked her if she was ok, because it looked like she was eating in a daze and we weren't sure she'd heard.

"I don't want to talk to the person who has been going into room and taking things from my table" she said.
Or words to that effect.
My blood was on boiling point so my Japanese listening skills went to the hills.

She said she was missing a magazine and that I had been into her room and taken it and didn't think she
had noticed. But she had.
I said I did go into her room to get the old newspapers and clean, but I didn't touch stuff on her table and didn't take the magazine. etc etc etc...that families should talk things out and not go around giving eachother the silent treatment etc etc

Then I walked out. I got the old newspaper box - which luckily the recycle man hadn't taken - put it down in her living room and told her to help herself. And walked out again. I left Okaasan and Yujiro to finish lunch. I went upstairs and did my business accounts.

The truth is of course: I DO sort through stuff on her table. I try to take out the packages of rotting food, the old newspapers, some of the millions of receipts for stuff bought 3 months ago, old chopsticks, bits of tissue, advertising sheets for 2 weeks ago....

I do it when she isn't there - because to do it with her would be impossible. I do it because Yujiro is doing almost all the cooking and I'm trying to do something helpful in the Okaasan-care.
I vacumn her room.
I find her pants around the bathroom, washing machine, kitchen and living room. I hang them up to dry.
I close windows that she has forgotten. I take in laundry.
I wash up half eaten plates of food.
I pick her hairs out of the sink plug.
I worry about her room heating and sneak in to switch on the hot carpet.

But I can't get into all of that.

Anyway. Yujiro did tell me ages ago to be careful about moving stuff on her table in case she noticed. So he was right. I was probably a bit too enthusiastic and put one of her magazines in the recycle box.

We went out for the afternoon - to see the Michael Jackson rehearsal movie This Is It (great movie by the way, not too much nasty, cloying Michael and lots and lots of dance and song as a big concert crew put the show together. Like Chorus Line with a EDGE.)

I asked Yujiro what we should do about Okaasan. And he said the typical Japanese thing: do nothing. Go on as normal and assume she has forgotten about it.
I was all for either
 a) me eating dinner upstairs for a few nights and staying out of her way in the hope that she'll forget exactly why she has a bad feeling about that foreign woman,
b) sitting down for a Family Meeting and telling her - Yes I go into your room. I go there to clean. Because You don't clean. I don't take your things. You should look for the magazine in the recycle box. Maybe it was in there. Maybe I put it there by mistake. And by the way - I'm not a thief.

But instead we did the Japanese thing of Doing Nothing.
We bought sushi for Okaasan on our way home in case she didn't like the lasange I was planning to cook.
When we got home she was sitting at the kitchen table and fell on the sushi with gusto.
I stood there cooking lasange, mainly with my back to her.
Yujiro watched the baseball.
He and Okaasan chatted about things.
She ate. I cooked. He talked.
When she'd finished she went and sat in her room in front of an amazingly cleared table (if nothing else this has made her clear some of the trash out herself) and watched the TV.
We sat behind her in the kitchen and stuffed ourselves on lasange.

Oh...and Hokkaido's baseball team the Nippon Ham Fighters are winning 5-1 at the moment!

Okaasan vs Oyomesan? Who knows? Who cares actually. A few days when I don't have to think of chatty little bits of conversation or this old lady is fine by me.
This Is It.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Technology wonderful! I am...tip tapping away at a tiny keyboard...on my new, slim laptop computer.

Supposedly bought for work - that is what the tax office will be told - but actually bought so I can play my addiction all day. My addiction is a Scrabble-like word game called Wordscraper, which I play endlessly via Facebook.

So I love THIS new technology!

And...I love SKYPE, the computer telephone system....which makes calls so cheap.
Two days ago I noticed a line in an e mail from my step-aunt which said that Jane's sister in Canada had spoken to her on the phone...and I suddenly realized that Jane's mobile phone on her bedside table in hospital actually DOES accept international calls!
I'd tried once about a month ago, but got no response. So I just gave up and felt increasingly cut off from what is happening to my step-mum. Her mobile was only for domestic calls...I thought.

But last night? I called her on SKYPE. And it worked.And she was "in" - (got nowhere else to go actually, but "in a state to pick up the phone") - and we chatted and it was GREAT. She sounded good, a bit confused sometimes, but good. It was nice to chat. She said her walking isn't so strong again and she needs the physios there to catch her.
Maybe go home, with nurse, by Xmas? Who knows. She has been in hospital for five months now. This is a lady who was driving all over the place, rushing around in the community and generally so active. It is sad and strange still to think of her in hospital for 5 months and with a whole life change.
One day she went out to drive someone home to the next village and had a car accident. And from that a whole chain of events happened.

Other news:

* We continued our cat loss syndrome by going shopping and buying...big rubber, anti-slip mats for the front door step, blue carpet tiles for our second-floor kitchen area, winter bush wrapping for the peony...
*  We went to the 50th Anniversary of the Sapporo-Portland Sister City event..not because we have any great civic love, but cos Yujiro loves the travel essayist Makoto Shiina who was the guest speaker. It was actually an interesting talk show - and even more fun because one of my friends/past students Kato-san was doing the simultaneous interpretation for the mayors and sister city people - so I got to see her in amazing action. Interpretation is an incredible skill.

And finally....a special section I shall now call:
 An Okaasan Moment.

We had nabe tonight. A big, cook on the table pot of stuff that you help yourself to. Very popular in Japan.
We stuffed ourselves on tofu and fish and veggies.
As we sat back Yujiro casually asked Okaasan if she'd like any more to eat.
She said she'd like RICE...we made a few jokes about how much she eats etc. We were full, but she is a strong old lady etc..
He got rice out of the freezer. Defrosted it.
Put the rice in the remaining nabe soup, added an egg..switched the nabe pot back on.
We waited 3 or 4 minutes for it to heat up.
Okaasan got up from the table to hunt around for her teacup and green tea powder.
"Okaasan, the rice is ready!" said the dear son.
"Rice? I don't need rice!" came the curt reply.
We both froze and glanced at eachother sideways...trying to contain our giggles.

Then the dear son stood up and started ladleing the rice and soup in to a bowl for tomorrow's breakfast.
"You're not going to eat that?" asked Okaasan.

Pure Okaasan. Wonderful.....gotta laugh.