It’s been a quiet couple of days. No major excursions. Just spending time with Shoko. Daily life.
Much of Shoko’s daily life these days involves taking care of her mother. Making meals. Helping her dress. Doing laundry. Because of my visit, Okaasan haｓ graciously agreed to spend a few days in the “Sunshine Care House” so that Shoko had some freedom to be with me and to go out and about. I felt so guilty as we all — Shoko, I、 and the driver —helped her into the van that came to pick her up and take her there. But Shoko consoled me. She said it was a gift to her from her mother. She wanted us to have time to do some things … like actually go away overnight — to Yokohama later today, and stop in Kamakura on the way back.
On our own, our big adventure yesterday was a picnic in the park near the town’s farmer’s market. We packed a lunch … rice balls (my favorite), some leftover salad, some pickled vegetables that were a gift from the traveling vegetable salesman who parked his truck on the road next to Shoko’s house. She and the neighbors come buy their fresh vegetables from him. When I said two words of Japanese to him, he was amazed and gave me a gift. So it is here.
Then we packed it all up and loaded up bicycles to ride to the park. This was the most challenging aspect of this adventure for me. It was not only the first time I’ve ridden a bicycle since random fits of vertigo have become part of my life, but the bicycle I was riding was built for someone significantly shorter than I. Even with the seat as high as it could be adjusted, it was still several inches too low. And with significant weight in the basket and little air in the tires, it was a bit wobbly. And off we went … across the railroad tracks, through back alleys … Shoko occasionally giving me warning of turns or stops.
We stopped at the bicycle shop on the way to get air in the tires, which helped tremendously. And there I had another of those happy encounters when someone overreacts to the fact that I can say, We’ve been friends for over 30 years, in Japanese.
I here writing this so obviously I made it there and back. It was a lovely outing … we spread our mats on the grass, set out the food, and just relaxed. We watched a group of 12 middle aged plus ladies attempting to play badminton in a blustery wind and to throw a Frisbee around. Two young mothers sent up a tent under the trees for their picnic. I had a little nap. Shoko read. We talked. We remembered that many years ago we envisioned ourselves as older ladies traveling about and laughed. And here we are. And we wondered if in another 15 or 20 years we’d be tiny little old ladies, like Shoko’s mother although it’s hard for me to envision being tiny. I’m a giant over here. We laughed again.
Last night we had a quiet evening. Shoko had a night off from kitchen duty. We actually went out to dinner, on foot, no more bicycle. And it occurred to me this morning at 4 AM when I awoke with a start, that this is what it’s all about. Ordinary days. Getting up. Having breakfast. Taking care of things. Taking care of family. Doesn’t matter where you live or whether your daily diet is based on rice, or pasta, or bread, or beans … that’s what we all do. Get up. Get through the day. One day at a time.