With Appreciation 感謝と共に

(A view you can see from Haliimaile Road on Maui.)

I am updating many blog entries today, aren't I today? :-)

The year 2008 is almost over. (Today is the New Year's Eve in Japan.)
It was a wonderful year.

So many things happened this year. Some tears and much laughter. There were continuous moments of "This is why I cannot stop loving being alive!" The reason I could healthily spend my days with those moments was because of you. Using this opportunity, I would like to show my sincere appreciation. Thank you very much.

I pray that your new year will develop into what you envisage. If there is anything I can do for you to make it happen, please let me know. For me, there is almost no other greater joy than helping people realizing their own dreams and making them come true.

With Love and Appreciation,

Akari Ueoka
December 31, 2008

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上岡 安佳里

What Children See 子どもたちから見えているもの

I wrote a blog entry about the photography lesson I had with students. They took many beautiful photos! Here are some of them. (I scanned each of them with my scanner, so there are white edges around the photo. Please ignore that...)

(Japanese) 以前、教えている子どもたちに撮りっきりのカメラを与え、好きなように撮っていいよと教えた授業をしたと書きましたが、彼らが撮った写真がとてもすてきななのでいくつかここに紹介したいと思います。(一つ一つスキャナーでスキャンしたので、写真の縁に白いラインがありますがそこはまぁ目をつむってくだされ・・・。)

A Scarf Completed マフラー完成

Here are photos of the first scarf I have ever knitted by myself in case you were wondering what happened to the scarf I started.

It was a fun process including the parts that I had to re-do.

I am now working on the second scarf. I hope I can finish it before I leave Japan. Oh, by the way, I leave for Maui on January 7th from Kansai Airport.

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I am in Japan 日本に帰ってきております

Now, I am in Japan.
The winter break is only 2 weeks long, so I am here for just 2 weeks.
I feel like it's been awhile since the last time I was here. When was the last time? I think it was summer 2007, so it means... a year and half, I guess.

This trip was to see my family and friends of course and to recharge my battery. Also to help out my family since my mom is in a hospital now. 

I would love to see as many friends as I could, but I might not have time due to the circumstance, so I apologize in advance if I would not make it to see you.

I am pretty worn out. I have a list of things that I want to do while I am in Japan, but I don't have any energy to tackle them now, so I am telling myself, "Take it easy..."

By the way, the number of times I updated my blog this year was really low. I hope I will update my blog more often the next year.

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ROOTS Fund Raiser ルーツ ファンドレイザー

(Please click to enlarge this flier. You can read the details better.)

In the previous blog, I mentioned about knitting as if to say that I'm having a pretty mild life. However, the reality is that I have been working from the early morning to late night without weekends for about a month now. I cannot take a day-off... I am realizing more and more that teaching is endless... BUT I love it, so I don't mind it. Well, maybe I want a weekend-off once awhile.

As the end of a year approaches, the whole town and people seem to assume this unique feeling of excitement and hassling. The main event for me for the next couple of days is a fund raiser of ROOTS, the learning center (not quite a school yet) I work for. This Saturday night (I am sorry for this last-minute notice), we have a fund raiser event at the Studio Maui in Haiku. If you are reading this blog before Saturday and are living on Maui, please come!

Children (age 3 to 12) will be performing, there will be fun activities for children and yummy homemade food, and the Studio Maui's own Five Rhythm Master, Amara will be leading a family-friendly dance night.

Date and Time: Saturday, 12/13 from 5:30 to 8:30 pm
Place: The Studio Maui
810 Haiku Rd, Suite 265, Haiku, HI 96708 Phone:808-575-9390
Ticket: $15 for adults, $5 for children (under 3 are free)

Your contribution towards ROOTS will be greatly appreciated by children, teachers, and the whole community. I look forward to seeing you there!

We have a new website. Please check it out.

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年末に向けてさらに「師走感」が高まる今日この頃、一番のイベントは私が教えさせてもらっている学校のファンドレイザーでしょうか。今週の土曜日の夜(もっと早くお知らせしたかったのだけど、ラストミネット(土壇場)の報知ですみません)にハイクにあるThe Studio Mauiでファンドレイザーやっています。もしこのブログをお読みになられている方で、マウイ在住で子どもさんのいらっしゃる方もいらっしゃらない方も、是非是非足を運んでくださいませ。

子どもたち(幼稚園から6年生までの子どもたち)がパフォーマンスをしますし、子ども向けの楽しいアクティビティもありますし、おいしいご飯もありますし、そしてメインイベントとして、Studio Mauiのファイブリズムで知られたAmaraのリードによるファミリーフレンドリーなダンスナイトがあります。

日時:12月13日土曜日 5時半から8時半まで
場所:The Studio Maui 
住所:810 Haiku Rd, Suite 265, Haiku, HI 96708 電話:808-575-9390
入場料:$15(大人) $5(子ども:三歳以下は無料)




Knitting 編みもの

Winter is really here. I am knitting scarves for loved ones in my life who live in a cold climate (we don't need one in Hawaii). I knitted a scarf when I was about a 5th grader, but my grandma did most of it, so this is the first time I knit all by myself.

I found myself enjoying it very much. It's a good way to relieve stress and outlet some creativity. It calms my mind, too. I need something like this to balance my busy life. Otherwise, I will be working, working, and working... (At the same time, it can be a reason for non-sufficient sleep hours because it's so fun knitting, and I cannot stop it.)

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Australia オーストラリア

This past weekend, I had an opportunity to visit Australia for the first time. A substitute teacher stayed with my students on Thursday and Friday. Both days, I kept looking at my watch thinking, "Oh, it is the carpet time now. I hope everyone came to school in a good spirit" or/and "Oh, it must be lunch time now. I hope everyone is eating a lot." I could not help to think of them.

The city I stayed during this trip to Australia was Melbourne. Sydney was a place to transit from an international flight to a domestic flight.

There were some hours to spend at Sydney airport, so I decided to take advantage of that opportunity by going out of the airport. I took a train to Central Quay Station and briefly saw the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbor Bridge. Although it was a simple, short trip (15 minutes one way), I very much enjoyed it. It reminded me of how much I enjoy traveling places I have never been to and figuring out how to get there.

I left Maui very early morning on Thursday (I only slept one hour the previous night), and I arrived in Melbourne at 10 pm on Friday (1 am on Friday in Hawaii) because I passed the International Date Line. It was a long trip. Then, I left Australia on Monday afternoon and came back to Hawaii this morning. I landed at Kahului airport at 9 am, and I drove myself to work.

Although I was tired, as soon as I saw the students running towards me as they were shouting, "Akari!!!", I felt so much warmth in my heart. They all gave me a warm hug. I picked each of them up and put my cheek against their cheeks. I thought, "This is why I cannot quit being a teacher." I could go through the day because of them.

As soon as I came home, I took a hot bath, and it helped me to relax.

More details about this Australia trip would be written in the near future...

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シドニー空港では乗り換えの時間が随分あったので折角の機会だと思い、空港から出てみました。電車(地下鉄のようなもの)に乗り、Circular Quay Stationまで行き、また空港へ戻ってくるという単純なものでしたが。(片道15分ほど。)往復でオーストラリアドルで$19.40(1176円くらい)でした。高いような気がしましたけど、まぁかの有名なオペラハウスとシドニーハーバーブリッジも見れましたし。






Kids & Photography 子どもと写真

I take about 400 photos of my students every month. (I cannot help it!) I upload all of them to my on-line photo album site, and I send invitation to parents and families, so that they can see how and what their children are doing at school.

Last week, I taught my students (age between 3 and 5.5) about photography.

I am neither a professional photographer nor have studied photography before, so I am no one to teach kids about it, but I wanted them to have an opportunity to take photos, not being taken all the time. I consider photography as a form of art. To me, capturing the moment that grabbed you is being in touch with the essence of life. A photo can speak thousands of words.

I found a company where I could buy a disposal camera for $1.65 each. I ordered about a dozen of them. One day, I showed children different photographers' books. We talked about what they see, what feelings they feel when they look at them, and so on. Then, I briefly explained the mechanic of the camera. I tried to keep it simple because I wanted the photography to be something approachable and fun for them. Also, I had faith that they would figure out how the camera works sooner or later.

I wrote each child's name on the cameras. They were proud when they got their own camera. For some of them, this was their very first camera to possess. (I felt a generation gap when they asked me which button to push to see the photos they just took... They are in the digital generation.)

I told them that they could take any photos they like.

Some of them were eager to take photos and finished their cameras in one day, and others carefully chose what to take. It is not good or bad; it was interesting to see each child's trait that way.

Now, I am going to develop them, and children will get to pick their favorite one and will frame it in the picture frame they decorated.

I cannot wait to see the world seen from their points of view.

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Letting My Heart Go 放心

After I woke up one morning, I went to a bathroom, and I saw this shadow on the wall made by the plants outside of the house and the morning sun coming in from a window. I thought, "How beautiful!" It was a moment when my heart openned because of the beauty. Everything stopped inside of me for a second. I wonder letting my heart go means and feels like that.

(Japanese) ある朝起きてからお手洗いに行ったら、窓から差し込む朝日と家の外にある植物の葉っぱによって壁に影が出来上がっていて、「何てきれいなんだろう!」と思って感動したそんな朝。心が放たれた瞬間。一瞬全てが私の中で立ち止まる。放心ってそういうことかしら?

This window made the beautiful shadow on the wall.

(Japanese) この窓があの影を創り出してくれてました。

As usual, I am busy, but I am doing well. When I come home from work at the end of a day, I usually sit on a bed or on the floor and go to the "absent-minded" mood for about 5 minutes. I mean I am present, but my mind gets quiet and blank. This blank period of time helps me to reset and re-energize myself. It is only recently that I started do something like that. Before, I did not even know how to even if I wanted to. Well, I am learning. It's about time, right? I can enjoy being busy instead of feeling it as a source of stress. It is like a game; I challenge myself how I could be creative to enjoy being busy, and I try to make a friend with it instead of to fight with it. I also learned to let go of tasks that I could not finish. It is not the end of the world.

(Japanese) 相変わらず忙しくしておりますが、(余談のため文字サイズ小さくなっております)どれくらい忙しかったかというと、(最近CDを整理するために、昔(高校生のときとか)から持っていたCDを聞いてどのCDをキープするか決める作業をしており、)友達からもらった浜崎あゆみさんのあるアルバムに入っている「No More Words」を仕事に行くときにたまたま車の中で聞いていて、その曲の歌詞の一部が「もしもこの世界が勝者と敗者とのふたつきりに別れるなら ああ僕は敗者でいい 敗者でいたいんだ」とあり、それが「もしもこの世界が商社と歯医者とのふたつきりに別れるなら」と聞こえてしまい、「そうか、歯医者さんになりたんだなぁ。歯医者さんと商社マン、どっちが年収いいのかな?教師の2倍かな?3倍かな?私は教師でいいや。」なんて自分の給料について考えることの多い今日この頃だったもので、しみじみ考えておりまして、暫くしてから「いや、違うぞ。そんな歌詞は変だ。もう一度聞いてみよう。あぁ、商社は勝者で歯医者は敗者と言っているんだな」と気付いたくらいです。



26th Birthday 26歳の誕生日

I became 26 years old a week ago on 10/27/08.

I thank those of you who sent me cards, called me, e-mailed me, and prayed for me.

I grew up to this point because of all the people who have loved me and cared for me.

According to the way we conceive time here, 26 years have passed since I came to this planet in a physical body. I am here now because of the each day of those 26 years. I have faithfully walked my path one step at a time as I confirmed if I was walking the path I wanted.

On my birthday, I had a date with myself all day and had more conversations with myself than usual.

In the morning, I went to surf at Hookipa Beach. A good size swell came in, so the sizes of the waves were pretty big. I chose to surf at the point instead of the pavilion side where I usually surf since it was crowded. I think I was in the water for about 2 and half hours. Each time I dropped in and stood on my board, I fell, so I did not really catch any wave, but I had fun just being in the water. I thought that one of my goals for my new year is to go surf at least once a week.

Then, I went home to change and get ready to go to my annual birthday ritual place, Haleakala. I arrived at the summit of the mountain before the sunset time. After the sun set, I stayed in the car to preserve my body temperature because I wanted to go to the top of a hill where I can look down the crater at 8:12 pm which was 3:12 pm in Japan time. I was born at 3:12 pm on October 27th, 1982.

Around 7:30 pm, I got out of the car and started to walk the trail to the top of the hill. Uniquely, there was only me that night (no other star gazing people). I found a cozy place to sit and sat down with a blanket around me. I looked up the sky studded with millions of starts, looked down the enormous crater opening its mouth, and thought to myself, "Yes, yes. This is where I want to be."

A quiet, large, empty, yet so filled place.

And me existing there.

I repeatedly felt that inside of me became quieter, larger, emptier, and more filled.

I brought a charcoal, so I lit it up and put down sage, sweet grass, and cedar. As I was surrounded by their gorgeous yet sacred smell, I was led into inside and inside.

I prayed for my parents, brother, my great parents, relatives, ancestors, friends, each child I work with, important people, and me last. I thought, "I am glad that I am me." "I am glad that I have a friend like me." I thanked myself. I was always there for me no matter how hard situations were. As I felt that way, a feeling of love and appreciation for myself welled up, and I thanked God for blessing me with this friendship. Then, I realized that the friend was God which meant that I was always with God. I cried. The next moment, all the stars in the sky shined more brightly as if they were winking at me, and a shooting start jetted from down to up. My tears got hotter because I felt like all the beings in the universe said, "We love you, too, Akari."

I love myself from the bottom of my heart, and I love you from the bottom of my heart. Have I been doing a good job telling you that?

I will keep telling you that by using the love and kindness you give me as fuel.


















Joy in Heart 心の歓喜

Things I used to believe when I was small...

Unicorns, fairies, the world above clouds, Santa Claus, thought I could walk on the rainbow, and so on.

Even now, part of me still believes, and there is other part of me who wants to keep believing in them.

I truthfully think that I am blessed as I work with children age between 3 and 6 everyday. They fully believe in the special beings in the mysterious world. Each time I get touched by their pureness, my heart gets cleansed. The sincere way children meet with even a bug crawling on the ground, a shape of a cloud drifting in the sky, subtle fading color of a leaf shakes my heart.

Through my heart polished by their pureness, the world seems to become more vibrant.

The proud face of a child who learned to put shoes on by herself, the brightness in a boy's eyes as he learned how to distinguish right and left, the look of a child as he listens to a story I read, the excited voice as she found that her seeds have sprouted, the little hands peeling oranges, and the little feet running as fast as they can move my heart. My heart jumps up in joy and smiles.

I feel that I have the best occupation ever. (Of course, there are a lot of great occupations in the world, so what I mean by this statement is that I found the best one for myself.)

At the end of a day, I inquire myself, "Did I meet with each child in a sincere way? Did I contribute to their growth in the most loving way?" There are always many 'regrets' wishing I had done something differently.

And, as a day begins, I pray, "Please guide me to be a positive influence in these children's lives today."

I am still green as a teacher, and every day is a great opportunity to learn how to better serve them, and children are the best teachers.

I cannot to wait to see them tomorrow.

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Setting up the Classroom 教室の準備

In August, I was busy getting ready for the new school year. One of the things I was doing was to set up the classroom. Today, I will post some photos from the school I am working at now. The picture above is a play structure donated to the school recently. Children love to play with the swing and the slide; they also come up with their own creative ideas to play with it.

(Japanese) 8月いっぱいは新学期の準備に忙しくしていました。

Toys and teaching materials I received from a teacher who used to teach the grade I am teaching this year.

(Japanese) 私が今年教えている学年を、昨年教えていた先生から譲り受けたおもちゃや教材たち。

The first thing I did was to clean the wall. The black points on the left wall was mold. You can see the difference by looking at the right wall which is after the mold was cleaned with bleach. The school is located where it rains a lot, so dealing with mold would be something I need to work on.

(Japanese) まず一番初めにしたことは、教室の壁のカビをきれいにすることでした。左側の黒く見えるものがカビ。右が漂白剤でこすった後。それからペンキを塗りました。学校が雨のよく降る地域にあるので、カビ対策が要です。

This is the classroom after painted. I like the yellow and blue colors.

(Japanese) ペンキを塗り直した後の教室。柔らかい黄色と床の青が好きです。


A Turning Point 人生の転機

(A leaf that has become skeleton I picked up from ground one day, thinking, "So beautiful!" The vein that once transported life force are now beautiful lace. I thought that the process to assimilate with the mother nature, namely dying, can be so beautiful.)

(Japanese: 「きれいだ!」と思って拾った地面に落ちていたスケルトンになった葉っぱ。この葉っぱの木の糧を運んでいた葉脈は今は繊細なレースになりました。土に還るプロセス、死に行くプロセスはこんなにも美しいのだなと思った瞬間に撮った写真。)

In the past three months, my life has completely shifted 180 degrees.

Many changes have occurred.

I have experienced pains while I was crying with joy for the beauty of life itself.

The metaphor of a downpour washed away my old foundation, and I was making a new one seems to describe what I was going through the best.

Loren and I are no longer together.
He is still a very important person in my life.
I love him as a friend and a soul so dearly.
Now, we have become more than just friends. We are more like a brother and a sister. (Sometimes, we don't know who is the older one, though.) I have learned a great deal of valuable knowledge, skills, and wisdom from him and from the relationship I had with him. As I was blessed with the opportunity to take care of his grandmother with him, I learned the importance of patient, love, and a good sense of humor. We have done so many things together that I cannot even begin to list here in the past three and half years. We have shared some pains and a lot of laughter. I pray that his life from this point forward will be also always filled with light of love.

Loren, thank you very much.

I have moved out of the house where Loren and I lived together, and I found a new place.

My biodiesel, Mercedes has broken down to a point where I could no longer afford to fix. Since the new teaching job was about to start, and I needed a reliable car to transport myself everyday, I gave up on fixing it and bought a new used car.

Therefore, the month of August and September were super busy. Looking for a new place to live, moving there, preparing to start the teaching job starting in September, looking for a new car, selling the Mercedes (despite of its condition, there were actually several interests, and it was sold for $500), signing up for a new land line and an internet access, signing up for a new cell phone, getting a new PO Box, and so on made my life busy.

Everything was new. A new house, a new job, a new car, a new cell phone, and a new life...

There were times when it was emotionally difficult, but like rain would make ground more solid, I gained a refreshingly new foundation to move on with my life. It was stressful when everything was happening at the same time, but I thought that it was a blessing because it was so symbolic. Now, I can take a breath and look back the past two months. I hope to update my blog more periodically. I appreciate all the people who have helped me along the way either knowing what were happening or not knowing.

Life is indeed beautiful despite of everything that could be difficult, and I cannot thank the source of life enough for letting me be alive.

Thank you.


(I took this photo at night by the seashore. The black sand and the white wave. Beautiful.)

(Japanese: 夜に波打ち際で撮った写真。黒い浜辺と白い波。きれい。)










Long Time No See! お久しぶりです!

(Now, I am learning about leaves with children at a school I work now. These are leaves collected by a child.)


Yes, I am alive and am sorry that I have not been able to update my blog for the last whole month!

There have been so much going on in my life. I would like to share some of them with you here sometime soon.

I finally found some time to sign in today, so I wanted to say hi to everyone.

I love you all!


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Home Visits 家庭訪問

I am sorry that I have not been updating my blog. No excuse, but I have been super busy!

So, what I have been doing is to prepare myself for the next month. The school starts on September 2nd, the first day with students!

I have been doing home visits with children and their families. It is nice to meet them in person before the school starts.

It might sound strange, but I can already tell that I love the children so much! I cannot wait to work with them.

Some of them gave me flowers and even her favorite unicorn when I visited them.

I pray that I will be a good influence on their lives.

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A Dream Has Come True 夢が叶いました

(Akari 2 and half years old, saying "I am going to follow this path."

My dream has come true!!

I wanted to be a teacher since I was a little girl.

I loved taking care of children of my neighbors. I used to live in a large apartment complex where many families lived. Small children used to come and knock on my door shouting, "Akari, can you play with us?" Sometimes I had to decline their sweet request in order to study for tests, but I often could not help to take a break and play with them.

As I mentioned on my blog, I graduated from University of Hawaii with a teaching license. For the past couple of months, I was job hunting, and today, I have a great news to share with you all. I am now officially hired as a teacher!! I was hired at a school called Roots. It provides a unique learning setting, and I am excited to be part of it since I was always interested in learning and being part of some alternative educational settings beside regular school programs.

I will be working with children age from 3 and half to 5 and half years old. I will have about 12 children, and the school begins on September 2nd. During this month (August), I will be preparing for the upcoming school year. I have to create curriculum, set up my classroom, do a home visit with each family of students, and so on.

It is a great feeling to know that my longing dream has come true. I just began to take it in, so part of me still feels like dreaming, though... Well, it is not a dream. I better get on it!

A little girl in the picture grew up and is now starting to walk on the path she has chosen. Thank you all for your support always.

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(Akari 2 and half years old, enjoying the texture of sand while admiring the ocean.)









Bridge 橋

Life moves on.

One place to the next.

Many bridges to cross.

Appearing as necessary.

Courage to cross the bridges.

The other side is unknown.

When it is time to cross, it is time to cross.

Looking up. Standing tall.

Loving the past with all my back.

My back gently pushed by the past.

My soul breathing in "NOW."

My cheek kissed by the future.

The past, NOW, and the future blend in.

Pushing up the bridge.

Time to cross.


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Graduation 卒業

(My friend Yumie and me at UH Manoa's field after the graduation ceremony. It was very hot, so we could not help to open the front... I like Yumie's slippers; it tells that we are in Hawaii! I studied on Maui, and she completed her degree on Oahu. I met Yumie at Maui Community College when we both first started our associate degree program in 2002. We hadn't seen each other for awhile, but we bumped into each other at this graduation ceremony. It was so nice.)

In May, I graduated from University of Hawaii at Manoa, College of Education. I received a bachelor's degree in elementary education.

I had my two-years degree from Maui Community College prior to this program. Therefore, I only attended UH-Manoa for two years. (Two plus two equals four.) Two years ago, I was accepted to this program, and my college life in which I faced textbooks and my laptop every single day began.

(UH-Manoa graduation held inside of this stadium)

Two years have passed quickly. The day to wear this green gown and hat with my classmates came. I would like to take this opportunity to express my genuine gratitude for those of you who have helped me along the way.

Loren, thank you for cooking meals when I was stressed out about assignments. Thank you for tickling me when I was in a bad mood, so that I could laugh. Thank you for pointing out my grammatical mistakes in my papers. Thank you for discussing about education with me, so that I could deepen my idea and thoughts. Thank you for reminding me to surf when I almost forgot that the ocean was right there for me. The support I have received from you was huge.

My mother and father, thank you so much for supporting me financially and emotionally. Thank you for being on my side always. Thank you for sincerely listening to me when I talk about my thoughts and feelings. The love I have received from you was enormous and deep, and I cannot wait to give you back that love or part of it if I could at all. But you told me, "Helping you is our job and our pleasure, so you don't have to give us back anything. Just knowing that you are healthy and happy is enough for us and makes us happy." That statement made me want to give you back all the good things you have given me even more :-) Well, I guess that the first thing I can do for you would be to strengthen the foundation for my life and enjoy building it. Also, thank you for coming to Hawaii from Japan for my graduation. It was such a blessing for me to be able to share the moment when my effort has been fruited with you two.

Michimasa (my younger brother), you encouraged me by just showing how you went to the school and started to work in an occupation that you liked. Thank you.

For friends on Maui and in the neighbor islands, thank you for understanding my busy life for the past two years and for not complaining at all that I could not spend time with you. Thank you for 'forcing' me to have some fun sometimes, so that I could refresh myself. Kyoko-san, thank you for cooking delicious Japanese meals whenever I visited you. You did not only feed my body but also my heart.

For friends in Japan, I surely received your support although we were far away from each other. By seeing you all starting to walk your own paths, I was encouraged and thought, “I will do the same!” I am so blessed to have friends like you to be connected despite of our physical distance.

For those of you who are reading this blog now, thank you. I met many great people through this blog and received many encouraging comments. Being able to communicate with people whom we have not met in person is an advantage of our generation. I hope that all of us on this planet can be connected with beautiful friendship.

(Carlen and her boyfriend, Matt came to see me and gave me and my parents their hand-made pulumeria leis. Thank you, Carlen and Matt! Carlen is currently attending UH and will soon graduate. I gave her my graduation gown for her to use :-) In the picture, I see Yumie happened to be walking behind us.)
(Japanese: 卒業式の後に友達のカーレンと、彼女のボーイフレンドであるマットが駆けつけてくれました。そして手作りのプルメリアのレイ(花飾り)を私と両親にくれました。カーレン、マット、ありがとう!カーレンは現在ハワイ大学で勉強中。もうすぐで卒業です。なので私が着た卒業式のガウンを彼女にあげました。写真に私たちの後ろを丁度通りかかったゆみえが写ってますね。)

By the way, I attended two graduation ceremonies. One was held on Maui with other graduates who attended UH-Manoa from Maui through the Outreach program. The other one was held on Oahu at UH-Manoa campus. My parents came to Hawaii for the first time, so I thought that it would be fun to show them one of the most famous cities of the world, Honolulu and to show them the size of UH-Manoa graduation. That’s why I attended both of them. My parents, Loren, and I had a one night and two-day trip to Oahu from Maui, and we enjoyed it although the schedule was tight.

So, I graduated. What am I doing now? I am applying for jobs. I am finally at the stage of life where I am financially responsible for myself. A new chapter of my life has begun. I will enjoy it!

--------------------------------- Japanese -----------------------------












(Akari standing in a group picture taking. Since I did not have opportunity to ask everyone's permission to put this photo up on my blog, I draw sunglasses on their faces.)

(Leis given to me from many good friends. They smelled so good and reminded me of the day of graduation.)


April and May Have Passed in a Second あっと言う間に過ぎた4月と5月

(Great artists did a great job in my art lesson at an elementary school.)

After all, Grandma's move to a nursing home is done now. I would like to use this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to all the people who have supported us in this process. Thank you all so much.

Since the last week of March when Loren and I came back to Maui from Wisconsin, our life without Grandma began. On the first night when I came back to Maui and when I entered the house, I went to Grandma's room first. I felt and subtly hoped that she was sleeping on the bed like she used to. But, there was just an empty bed.

I had missing feeling towards her, but as if to blow it away, Loren and I were immediately sucked into a busy life on Maui. As you can tell by looking at the history of my blog entries, I only updated my blog 4 times in March, 3 times in April, and one time in May, I entered a period of "no-time-to-update" for the first time since I started my blog. Loren and I had wondered if we would have more time for ourselves and for each other after Grandma left, but the reality was that there were so many projects that we were putting aside while Grandma was our priority, and they grabbed our attention quickly.

Also, we moved to a smaller house since the house where we used to live with Grandma was too big for two of us and to save some money. We sold some of Grandma's furniture like bathing chairs and a hospital bed on Craig's list. (We still have a hospital bed. If you know anyone who might be interested in it, please let me know.) Our friends kindly helped us moving and cleaning the house we used to live.

I had student teaching from 7:30 am to 3:30 pm every day. I planned and did a 3-week solo teaching. There were also college assignments which kept me awake late at night. Also, there were other projects beside schooling.

Literally, Loren and I worked from the morning (around 6:30 am) to the night (around 10 or 12 pm sometimes) straight for about two months. We did not have weekends to rest but to catch up with work. When I look back on those days, I am impressed at how much we did, but at the same time, I hope not to go back to those crazy days again.

I got a result of the Praxis test. I passed it! I will officially get a Hawaii teaching license.

Then, May has come.


(I taught 2nd graders how to make a kabuto, an warrior helmet. This girl made it very cute.)




まず、それまで住んでいた家はローレンと私には大きすぎるので(おばあちゃんがいなくなったので)、隣の少し小さな家に引越しました。おばあちゃんの使っていた介護用のトイレやベッドなどはCraig's Listという無料で広告を載せられるサイトで宣伝して個人売買しました。それまで住んでいた家の掃除や、引っ越した先の家での片付けなど、お友達に手伝ってもらいました。





The Lord's Prayer 主の祈り

Loren, Grandma, and me at a restaurant in Paia on Loren's birthday.
(ローレン、おばあちゃん、私 ローレンの誕生日に訪れたパイアのあるレストランにて)

Finally, the last day to spend time with Grandma in Wisconsin has come.

Loren, Loren's mom, and I visited Grandma at the nursing home in the early morning. It was Grandma's first morning to have at a new place. Last night, I prayed in my bed that she would wake up with a fresh and bright feeling tomorrow morning.

When we first arrived at the nursing home, we could not find Grandma in her room. She was participating in a bingo game at the social room that was located in the middle of the nursing home. With about thirty other residents, Grandma was eagerly engaged in the game, raising her hand straight up to the ceiling, “Bingo! I got a bingo!” Loren and I quietly approached towards the room and hid ourselves behind pillars to make sure that she would not see us. (If she noticed us, we knew that she would come to us; we wanted her to finish the game.) Grandma kept raising her hands saying, “Bingo!” even thought it was not really bingo (she thought it was). Loren and I looked at each other and could not help to laugh. We felt bad for the host of the game (because Grandma stops the game by saying that she got a bingo when she does not), but we were very much delighted to see how much she was enjoying herself and participating in a social activity. I felt like a parent who is visiting an open house at a child’s school, wondering, “Is my kid doing all right?”

After the bingo game was over, Grandma noticed us and proudly approached us on the wheel chair and showed us a small staffed animal, “Look, I won this at the bingo game! This is my new friend.” It was a small, pink bunny.

After that, Loren met a social worker to process some paper work for Grandma, and Loren’s mom and I pushed Grandma on her wheel chair back to her room and chatted for awhile.

Lunch time came. Grandma went to the dining room to eat lunch with other residents. Loren and I drove out of the nursing home to get some food for us to eat. In the meantime, we discussed numerous ides of how we should broach to Grandma about us leaving. We wanted the moment to be not painful as much as we could. At the same time, we knew that we could not avoid certain amount of pain that we all would feel.

We came back to the nursing home with our lunch. We ate the lunch in Grandma’s room. Grandma requested some ice cream, so Loren’s mom took her to a kiosk at the first floor. She loves ice cream. When we lived together, we almost had to hide some ice cream; otherwise, she would have finished them all in a few days :-) Grandma seemed to be in good spirits as she ate ice cream. She was singing and pretending to feed the staffed animal she won this morning with ice cream. I taped some of that with my digital camera, trying to preserve this sweet moments.

After she was done eating ice cream, she moved herself to the edge of the bed from her wheel chair she was sitting. Then, she asked us, “So, what are you doing here?” She continued, “Is there enough time for you to catch the plane?” We were going to fly out the next morning, so we had a plenty of time. However, as if she knew what we were worriedly thinking, she slit the secretly tensed air for us. Loren made a sign with his eye. I did not expect to leave this early, so I was not emotionally ready for it yet, but I read Loren’s unspoken message in his eyes, “Grandma is giving us a cue. Let’s take it and leave now.”

Loren told Grandma, “Okay Grandma, we’ll get going.”
She asked, “Are you coming back tomorrow?”
“Not for awhile, Grandma,” Loren answered.
At that moment, she closed her eyes tightly while she was still sitting on the edge of the bed, firmly gripping the sheets with both hands as if she was going to ride a roller coaster. Then, she took a deep breath. I felt that the energy of the room changed into something very sacred while she was taking the breath. The next moment, she started to pray out loud. Her body was even more shaking due to Parkinson’s disease, and she was trying to hold her head straight. Her eyes were still closed. She pronounced each word with all the will and power she had. I could not understand what the prayer meant since some words were unfamiliar to me, but I could tell that she was showering us with all the blessings she could possibly have given us. As I immersed myself in that prayer, I could not withhold tears behind my eyes anymore. I had not cried in front of her until that moment, but in that moment, I was barely holding myself up, dissolving in tears. Loren’s shoulders were shaking, too. While his eyes were fixed on this small but mighty lady’s back, large, pearls quietly kept falling out of his eyes.

Grandma finished praying and opened her eyes. She first hugged me who could not do anything but crying and said, “I love you, Akari. I really, really love you. You are my little dolly. Forever. Be beside Loren and help each other, okay?” I nodded and could barely tell her, “I love you, too, Grandma.” Next, it was Loren’s turn to be hugged. He has not cried in front of Grandma after he grew up, but this time, it was an exception. He was simply Grandma’s loving, little Grandson. I could not hear what Grandma told Loren or what Loren told her, but I could hear that they said “I love you” to each other at the end. Loren’s mom who was watching this scene from the hallway was crying, too. The only person who was not crying was Grandma. Then, she said, “Go now.” We left the room behind as we were still crying. After we got on the elevator, Loren said, “I forgot something. I’ll be back” and went back to Grandma’s floor. Loren’s mom and I waited at the parking lot. I felt a strong impulse of wanting to see her again, but I stopped myself from going back because if I see her again, it would make it more difficult for me to leave. I don’t know what Loren forgot. Loren told me later that he found Grandma crying in the hallway when he went back. She was trying to go after us by pushing herself on the wheelchair.

Although we were taking care of Grandma, I thought that Grandma was actually taking care of us. Taking care of her itself was a gift from her. When I realized it, I felt warmth in my heart which made me cry again (a lot of crying in this posting). Grandma was ‘Grandma’ until the very last moment we saw her. Although she got much smaller and got weaker due to the disease, her container that held her soul was still much bigger, stronger, and more sophisticated than ours. I sincerely thanked this great opportunity to spend time with her for the past three years.

The below is the prayer she recited. I learned that it is called “Our Father.”

Our Father, who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever.

----------------------------- Japanese --------------------------










お祈りが終わりました。おばあちゃんは目を開けました。そして泣きじゃくる私をまず抱きしめました。そして頭を撫でながら「あかり、愛してるわ。とってもとっても愛しているわ。あんたは私の小さなお人形ちゃん。いつまでもいつまでも。これからもローレンの傍を離れずに二人で支え合って歩いていきなさい。いいわね。」と言いました。私はただただ頷くばかり。かろうじて「I love you. 愛してるよ。」と口に出来ただけでした。そして次にローレンがおばあちゃんの腕の中に抱かれる番でした。おばあちゃんの前では大人になってからは一度も泣いたことのないローレン。このときばかりはおばあちゃんのかわいい、かわいい孫息子、そのままでした。二人が交わした会話は聞こえませんでした。でもお互いに「I love you.」と言っているのは聞こえました。そうしてその様子を部屋の外から見守っていたローレンのお母さんも泣いていました。泣いていないのはおばあちゃんだけでした。そして「さぁ、行きなさい。」と私たちに言いました。私たちは泣きながら部屋を後にしました。エレベーターに乗った後、ローレンが忘れ物をしたと言っておばあちゃんの部屋に戻りました。ローレンのお母さんと私は駐車場のある階でローレンが戻ってくるのを待っていました。私ももう一度おばあちゃんに会いたい気持ちに駆られました。でもまた戻ったら余計におばあちゃんを辛くさせたらいけないと思って、我慢しました。ローレンがどんな忘れ物をしたのかは知りませんでした。後から聞いた話によると私たちが部屋を出てから、おばあちゃんは一生懸命私たちの後を追ってきていたようでした。ローレンが戻るとおばあちゃんが廊下で泣いていたそうです。