Saturday, 21 November 2015

Return to...where?????

There we are - back in Kawagoe, back with the family, back with the memories.

We did it! She did it. I did it. He did it. Success.

Along the way....oh.....ho ho ho.....

First of all: she enjoyed it. She got noticeably brighter when we arrived in Kawagoe. Lots of old chat came out. With the family she didn't know who they were at first ("Hello? I think we met recently?", but then understood and smiled and laughed and chatted.....and DOESN'T she look great? So young and beautiful!

It was a good thing to do. Worth all the work...all the work....for her and for her family members. One of Okaasan's brothers is not so well at all, and this may be the last chance for them to meet. 

Oh, but.

You can imagine...the GETTING there was one whole HUGE puzzlement for Okaasan. Out of her familiar surroundings she was all at sea in confusion of place and time and reason. She depended on us a lot. Her dementia leaves her very vulnerable to confusion.

At 6 am on departure day she had no idea we were going anywhere. No idea there was a letter. Wanted to know WHY we were going. Wasn't at all interested. It was a major effort to get her up off the carpet and dressed.

Mind you: she then happily told everyone she met along the way: "I love going places. When they invite me to Tokyo I jump right up and say "Yes!""....yeaaaah. Right. Oyomesan groaning in the background...

The packing was a nightmare. Couldn't do it. All she could do - after a lot of pushing from me - was to put hand towels and handkerchiefs in a handbag. I packed her suitcase out of sight...and unpacked the towels and handkerchiefs....then unpacked and packed her in Yokohama and Kawagoe hotels.

And place: "Where is this?" was a constant, constant refrain. Every few minutes. At the airport, on the bus, in the hotels, in the streets, on the trains, in the hotel elevators, in the toilets...
Funniest was: "Is this my room?"...standing in the hotel bathroom? "Is this where I/we live?"
"Is this Yokohama? Is this Sapporo? THIS is Kawagoe?"

Return to Kawagoe.

And toilets: I KNOW I have been in and out of every single public toilet in Yokohama station area and then between there and Kawagoe, all over that town, and back to the airport. Know it. 
Actually maybe our trip was a tour of toilets.
We did well finding toilets and averting accidents - the final trip back to Tokyo airport I let Okaasan go into toilets alone and she chose the Japanese style squat cubical...minutes went by and she didn't come back...then started calling my name and banging on the door!
She had fallen down on the toilet floor, with her clothing round her knees...and couldn't stand up. Her body was wedged against the door - so I had to force my way into the cubical to haul her up off the floor....and get her dressed again and safely out.

While we were at the Elton John concert - 5 minutes away from the hotel - she was dozing by the TV in the room. But locked the door from the inside...had to telephone and bang on the door constantly to get her awake etc But she was safe.

And Kawagoe. The three of us walked and bussed around the old historic town, where little Kazuko had played long ago. She and I went inside the old house where a shogun was born, saw treasures and autumn leaves. She had great delight in showing off all the history and telling EVERYONE: I was born in Kawagoe!!!

We even found a town history exhibition with a friendly curator. He was obviously very interested in Okaasan and what she must know, but his questions confused her and she kept repeating: my friend lived in that shop, I don't know her name, where did I live? I don't know, I was born here!, my friend lived there, I played there, we went to the doctor's office in a rickshaw...
Frustrating for the curator. A child of course doesn't know the names of places and people. And now Okaasan has child-like memories. Lacking the facts.

"My friend lived here, we played together!"

Funny which experiences or information stick.
As we stood in the hotel foyer saying goodbye to family members I commented how well T-looked: "Was he here today? Did I meet him?"
But next morning: "H-san didn't come yesterday, because one of her husband's relatives is very sick."
So she forgot the brother who she sat next to for two hours. But remembered the sister who didn't come...and why.

And so. It is done. My good deed. I promised myself that she should go two years ago when I visited her hometown. And we managed to take her.
Today she is tired but seems fine. Chatted away. I will make up these photographs into prints and give them to her to aid her memory of the trip.
It was a huge amount of work - but the results for her and her family were good.

Now. Winter.


  1. So happy for you all. So glad that it went well without any major problems. It was so wonderful of you to plan it and carry it off. Nancy in tokyo

  2. Congratulations on the trip. So glad that things worked out. Hope you enjoyed to concert. You are a very brave and compassionate lady. The photos are a great idea to help her memory.

  3. I am happy for you that the trip went well. She is lucky to have you for a daughter-in-law.