Monday, October 20, 2008

To Papa Sigi~

After a whirlwind trip up into the mountains we're back with sacs of potatoes, onions, apples, pears, and 10 pounds of garlic seed. If I had to give this trip a theme I would say it was about gathering. Gathering people together, gathering the harvest, gathering stories.  It was about collecting those things that get us through the dark months, whether it's the peach preserve that goes on toast, or the stories, the ones that keep us inspired on dark winter nights. For me stories are a kind of food, they sustain me like the thick hearty stews that simmer on my winter stove-top.

Speaking of stories, I finally recorded the incredible life story of my 92 year old Japanese grandfather. He sat with us for three hours drinking strong coffee on a rainy day, and filling us in on the details of his life.  The kind of details that can make time travel possible; 
descriptions of sun on a dry bean field in 1933, the smell of a beef heart cooking in a pan, the feeling of a cold icy 
draft, coming through the cracks of a chicken coop, serving as a home to Japanese immigrant farmers.  The sound of an engine, in a Model T Ford, bought for ten dollars, working hard to get over the mountain pass. 

And like all good stories this one too had a theme, but it was not the theme you might expect. It was not a theme built from hardship, or heart-ache, or brokenness, although these were all parts of his story.  No, the theme of my grandfathers story, was, would you believe, LUCK.  Luck that he found work in dry bean fields for 2o cents a day, luck that there was a beef heart to eat from time to time, luck that there were abandon chicken coops to live in; shelters to keep the snow out. Luck that he did not have to go to war because he was an immigrant.  Luck that he survived, that he lived, that he got to have a bicycle and fall in love. Luck that hard work makes a strong body and that sometimes the people you meet, are kind.  

I have asked my grandfather to tell me his story many times, but in all the telling, I don't know if I ever knew of his gratitude before now. Or perhaps, what I mean to say is that I don't think I knew of the sheer enormity of his gratitude.
And this thing he calls LUCK, well, I think I am more inclined to call it perspective.  I think my grandfather has one of the most incredible perspective's on "living" that I have come to know thus far. My love and respect for him is limitless, and to use his words, I feel LUCKY, LUCKY to know such a remarkable man, with such a beautiful way of traversing this human experience. 

This post is dedicated to Papa Sigi Kuraoka, my grandfather, whom I love, with all my heart.

PS- Senay and  I also had a story telling session, so stay tuned for her up coming wisdom on faerie folk.


ArtSparker said...

Thanks for sharing your remarkable grandfather's story with us. Welcome back -

Pam said...

What a beautiful post.A very touching tribute.Your love for your grandfather shines through.

herhimnbryn said...

A loving tribute indeed and the images show a wise man.

Chimera said...

Blimey nao, what a treasure trove this blog is! Brimfull of gogeous things, ideas and photos, prose and characters! Your grandfather is amazing and I think the picture of him with the handsome cat is beautifully caught!
So glad you came to my blog and I followed you to your green cottage!
Shall link you too!
Tanvir (chimera)
Wish i could spend some time with Gus too!

Lora said...

Nao, you must know that your Grandfather is an inspiration for many. He is a wonderful individual. I love reading ALL your posts. I feel like I am somehow remaining a part of your almost everyday life. Thank you for that. I have many wonderful memories of our past and hope to make more in the future. Love ya!!!