Tuesday, 8 July 2014

BIG adventure begins.

For us: the first holiday in 5 years as a couple - via a New York transit to Brazil and Rio on the final weekend of the World Cup!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

For Okaasan: left home alone with 3 chirpy day service women coming in each day to take care of her.

The longest she has been left alone at home without us.

The last few days has been the usual pre-holiday whirlwind. Making lists. Making new lists. Worrying. Remembering "must do".
Work. Shutting up the classroom/contacting substitute teachers for other classes.
Preparing the classroom for an English woman who will stay there - her first time ever in Japan, so I had to think of all sorts of information she needs to know like trash sorting and how to operate the hotwater/telephone/computer.

And cats. To the pet hotel yesterday.

And packing.

And Okaasan's care.
Dear Son got Okaasan out for an afternoon walk so that when the day care team came at 5 pm she wasn't here to listen to conversations about dirty underpants and trash and money, and what-to-do-if-she-disappears...
Two women came, and a third came almost 1 hour later. All friendly.
DS had prepared a very efficient point by point information paper.
We sat in the kitchen with them and tried to describe our life caring for Okaasan. Made me realize how much we do now automatically. We showed them her room and where the lunchboxes and dirty pants lurk. Warned them NOT to tidy up her table and move stuff around....

Okaasan came back at 6 pm, just as the third woman was there.
She joined us in the kitchen, looking surprised at guests.
"Is something happening? Are you away? Is that it?" she asked.
Was a bit surprised to hear it was Brazil. Didn't really understand how long. 5 minutes later asked it all again.
"Oh Brazil! I haven't been to Brazil" she commented.
We said it was really a trip all about football, which she isn't interested in...

DS had prepped a laminated sign - 5 signs actually - with important information for Okaasan. 
He has taped them up in the kitchen and the entrance hall and on her door.

Reminding her we have gone and how long.
That women are coming every day.
That she should go walking and come home by 5 pm
That they will cook. Lunch is delivered as usual.
And don't forget: key/subway card/telephone.

Okaasan was in polite guest mode with the women here. She looked around the room and drummed her hands on the chair.
I was a bit shocked that the women all got very jokey and noisy with DS, and didn't keep it professional and Okaasan-focused. Finally, as I started making dinner, I TOLD them it was wrong and ordered them all with DS out into the hallway. 
Okaasan doesn't like groups of people standing in the kitchen laughing and chatting, by now she was in her room watching TV - but she could hear it all happening in the kitchen.

Sometimes...many times ...in Japan...I am left gobsmacked at the unprofessionalism of some people. It seemed so bad - to be noisily standing and joking with the son, while the client who has dementia - with all of the paranoia and suspicions of that condition - is just feet away trying to watch TV.
Okaasan had just been told that her family are going away on holiday without her for a long time. And that she needs these outsiders coming in to care for her.
She needed respect and focus. Not to be a side act while the group outdid eachother with chat and jokes.

And to add to our tension.....Hokkaido had a BIG earthquake. Magnitude 5.2. Big for here. I've never had that size here in the 16 years I've been here. Of course the Tohoku quake was huge, but not centered here. This was just 100 km south of here.
The house rattled and rolled. The whole lavender bush was shaking. After shocks have continued all evening.

I hope our family life won't suffer shocks from this holiday and it's aftermath.

The day care team finally left.
I finished cooking and served dinner. We ate in silence. Okaasan didn't say or ask anything about what had just happened with the day care team. We didn't. It was so strange.
I feel we should talk about it in a nice upbeat way. But Dear Son doesn't...so I follow his lead. Okaasan doesn't talk about it.
Nothing like: "oh, so Brazil, where are you going? what are you doing? where are you staying?"
None of those quite normal questions.

Part of our essential prepping for the holiday was leaving emergency contact numbers with a friend.
If there is a terrorist attack, or a Brazilian street mugging - and we can't come back. What to do. Who to contact.

If we don't come back. Useless Older Brother will be getting a nasty shock.
His mother will become his responsibility..............

It's almost worth staging a fake disappearance. If I could get the cats out of the vets office and run away....

Over and out. I've gone.
I need a holiday. He needs a holiday.
We need a holiday.




  1. Have a wonderful time! What a great adventure. Things will be okay here in Japan. Okaasan will be fine....you have to trust that the system will work.
    I agree with you about the lack of professionalism here.I don't get it.

  2. You are a good and thoughtful Oyomesan. Have a safe and wonderful holiday in Brazil! :)

  3. Germany versus Argentina. Should be a great game. Enjoy!

  4. How exciting! Have lots of fun and enjoy your well deserved holiday! Looking forward to photos and a recount of how it all went!