Thanksgiving - Reconnecting with family

Thanksgiving is coming up soon, and I have a lot to be thankful for this year.
I had a healthy pregnancy and gave birth naturally to my beautiful daughter Chinami. 
I was able to come back to Hawaii and reconnect with a lot of friends and make many new ones as well. 
And most of all, I feel thankful that I have a loving family who cares about me. 
No, not them. 
When I was with my "parents" for last Thanksgiving, I also saw the other part of my family, whom I hadn't seen in over 10 years. It was the part of the family that wasn't related to my "mother"; my paternal grandparents, my aunt, uncle, and three cousins.
Since we lived abroad when I was a child I almost never got to see them, and when we moved back to America I saw them from time to time, as they lived in the same small town as we did.

My grandmother would take me to high school football games, along with my aunt and cousin who was just a baby then. I was in middle school at the time and would be going to that high school in the following years, and it was the same high school my "father" and his siblings went to, and the same school my oldest cousin is going to now. She enjoyed sharing this legacy and history with me. She would also take me to the museum, carnivals, the mall, church (not to force me, but because I enjoyed playing with the other children and singing in Sunday School) and I would stay over her house sometimes. 

My grandfather was one of the original computer nerds, and taught me a lot about computers (in those days, we still used 5-inch floppy disks and Windows 3.1, and MS-DOS) He had also served in the military and was stationed in Japan, and gave me some of his old mementos when I started to become interested in Japanese culture.

Years later, my aunt found me on Facebook and I saw that I now had 2 more cousins, and my oldest cousin was starting high school. My aunt and uncle would message me, and I was unsure how to handle it after all those years. 

The reason I was unsure was because of all the things my "mother" would tell me about them. She accused them of using her for her money, she ridiculed them and called them horrible, degrading names in front of me (things I will not write here as I do not want to hurt their feelings,) and basically convinced me that they were some kind of malignant, abnormal people. When I told them I wanted to go visit my family, I was warned not to. I'm glad I followed my heart, and did the right thing.

After my "parents" left to spend Christmas and New Year's in the Caribbean and left us to house-sit (despite the fact that it was the first holidays we could spend together in over five years) Yasushi and I went over to have lunch with my family. I made some cupcakes and brought them over, and they had cold-cut trays and lots of yummy desserts, and spent the day asking us questions, talking with us, and making us feel welcome. We played games with my cousins, I helped my aunt with her computer, and we all had a great time. My husband commented that they seemed like a normal, Christian family, and were very kind-hearted, and I agreed.

Now that I have looked into my past, I can now fully appreciate how normal they are. No one launched into loud, rambling stories and demanded that you listen to them no matter how long they kept talking, no one lectured us on how our choices, hobbies, and lifestyle were wrong and tried to force us into something else, no one called us degrading names, and they would listen to us. The three children seemed comfortable and happy, no one was screamed at, insulted, or invalidated.

I can remember now that my grandparents were the only ones who validated my feelings when I was in middle school. They always listened to me, remembered things about me, showed me they cared about who I was, and never tried to force me to do something I didn't want to do, or be someone I wasn't. That was the thing I needed most at that fragile point in my development, and something I was not getting at home.

And even now, the way they treat me and Yasushi really shows how much they care. When they found out I was pregnant, they asked me how I was, and that they wanted to send me something for the baby. When I told them I didn't need much, and would appreciate if they would just send me any used items or hand-me-downs, they sent me precious family heirlooms that were used by my grandparents, their children's baby blankets, hand-sewn items that were passed down in the family, and a used breast pump, because they knew I was breastfeeding. Most importantly, there was no Facebook announcement about how THEY were becoming great-grandparents/aunts/uncles, no posts with pictures of the things they bought for THEIR grand-baby, there was no waving money around in a big fanfare that was still centered around themselves. It was just pure sentiments and love.

I am very glad I reconnected with all of them, and my husband was able to meet them before we moved to Hawaii. But also, I am very sad at all the years lost between us, and how far apart we are now. But as long as they are in Pennsylvania, I can say that I may think of going back to see my family some day.













Another email...more drama...

The tweet:

The email from "Father":
I would never wish you and your family anything but extreme happiness, health and success, never!  I am shocked and extremely hurt that you would publicly wish harm or death on us. I do not believe that Yasushi would share your wish of death on us. I will never forget this, it is inexcusable. I have certainly failed as a father to have his daughter wish for his demise. I have been sick since one of your friends brought this tweet to our attention. Make sure to let beautiful Chinami know that her grandparents love her and want to be a part of her life. Do the things that grandparents do, give her unconditional love and support but her mother would rather not have her know her family. Your choice not ours.

My response:
Stop being overdramatic. I never wished death on anyone. Just hoping that karma gets you back, which it will. I don't remember you ever volunteering anything to help the victims of Luis, Katrina, the Japan tsunami, the Haiti earthquake, etc. Just taking videos, worrying about yourself, and offering opinions on how it could have been avoided.
Yasushi felt that the tweet was a bit too much, but he feels the same way as I do in terms of wishing we could have a normal family, with grandparents for our children, but that cannot happen until you come to terms with what you've done and take steps to correct it.
Wait, you wished me extreme happiness, health and success, and gave me unconditional love and support?
More like: you had a daughter with real problems like depression, outward signs of being abused, yet you handled it by calling her names, and invalidating her feelings, hopes, and dreams.
10 years later when she finally stands up for herself, you both deny everything happened and call her a liar, and then contradict yourself by trying to justify your actions as well-deserved discipline, as if children actually deserve to be abused! You even go on to say that her depression, anxiety, and suicide attempts were her own fault, expressing no empathy whatsoever!
And let's not forget that just recently "Mother" threatened to sue me and my family for "every last dime" knowing full well that we both worked full time 6 days a week in Japan to save up for a house someday, and are now living paycheck to paycheck on a single income with a newborn.  She also stated she is happy we are far away and she will never see us or any offspring we might have ever. I will let Chinami know about that when she is old enough, thank you.
You and "Mother" are the ones who have made the choice not to act like loving family and acknowledge the deep effect your verbal abuse has had on me, apologize, and seek therapy so you do not do the same thing to your grandchildren. "Mother" has made the choice to write me off as "sick and twisted"  when she is the one who is emotionally unstable and needs to seek help if she wants to be part of my family. She also needs to worry about her own daughter's feelings and well-being instead of worrying about what her "friends" on Facebook might think.
Yasushi and I made the choice for Chinami's safety and well-being. Judging by the way you attempt to lie and gaslight in this email, we have made the right choice.


Earthquakes, Tsunamis, and Superstorms?!?

Superstorm Sandy has wreaked havoc on the East Coast and the images I've seen are devastating. For me, Sandy is yet another natural disaster hitting one of the places I have called "home."


When I was 9, a category 4 hurricane hit the island I lived on at the time. The house we were in was strong and we were very lucky to escape the total devastation that spread across the rest of the island. We also had plenty of water and food to take us through the weeks without power. My parents and their friends drove around the day after the storm and took video. My "mother" and I returned to the US soon after until conditions got better there. 


Then last year, on March 11th, I experienced the Kanto-Tohoku earthquake that generated a tsunami big enough to wipe out entire towns, change coastlines, and cripple a nuclear plant. My parents called me every day trying to convince me to leave, but my husband and I could not fathom leaving our home in a time of crisis. We stayed and donated money, did fundraising, and when fall came, we donated our warm winter clothes and electric blankets to the temporary residences. 


And here in Oahu, I have experienced both an earthquake that resulted in over 12 hours without electricity on most of the island, and just last Saturday, a tsunami warning that was serious enough to shut down most of Waikiki and send people in my neighborhood to higher ground. 


In all these situations, one thing I have learned is not to think that it "won't happen to me," and to always have enough supplies for an emergency. 


In America it's not as much of an issue because many people buy in bulk to save money, and canned goods are a normal thing to have in one's pantry. (However, sometimes people forget to periodically check their cabinets and use things before the expiration date and replace them, so a bit of maintenance is required for this) People usually have some kind of grill for their summer barbecues that come in handy during a power outage too. 


In Japan, space is limited so many people do not store extra toilet paper, canned/dried food, bottled water, etc. in their house, which led to the panic buying situation in spring of 2011. With Tokyo residents already experiencing one crisis in the past year, and scientists constantly saying how Tokyo is overdue for their big earthquake, it is more important than ever to be prepared.


In your house, you should have at least 2-3 days worth of basic supplies, such as canned/dried food and water, toilet paper and wet wipes, and other essentials such as some extra blankets, a portable gas stove or a grill, and a battery/manual powered flashlight and radio. 
It's also good to prepare an emergency bag in case you have to evacuate. In one bag, you should put (for 1 person)
2 liters of water
a bag of biscuits, a bag of hard candy, and some canned or instant food
2 packs of wet wipes
1 blanket
1 battery/manual powered flashlight and radio
1 pocket knife
 1 or 2 changes of clothes
a small amount of cash and photocopies of ID and other important documents. 
Having a bag already set up will make any evacuation easier and give you more time to gather precious items and your every day items with less panic.



Also, as if there weren't enough good reasons to breastfeed, when we evacuated because of the tsunami warning, I didn't have to worry about bottles or formula or anything, I just put a pack of diapers and wipes in the car. In America, there are many mothers who don't breastfeed because of some social stigma, because formula companies tell them things like it's more convenient, and hospitals push formula on newborns. Even in Japan, more and more mothers are supplementing with formula and decreasing their own supply. 
It would be so much better if more mothers breastfed and wet-nursed in times of crisis instead of turning to formula (which is actually more dangerous than wet-nursing because of lack of clean water and facilities to properly sanitize bottles in times of disaster.)


With it getting colder I hope everyone in the areas ravaged by Sandy are keeping warm by bundling up and drinking warm drinks whenever possible. When I was in Japan, we only had a small gas heater in the living room, and I wore thick padded room jackets inside and usually had some hot water in the kitchen for tea (and a thermos for when I went outside). When my parents came to visit me in Japan my "mother" relentlessly complained about how cold our apartment was, so I wonder how they are dealing with their power and heat being off for over 3 days now.


Anyway, my thoughts are with all the victims. I will do what I can to help from here in Hawaii.