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。







Bruce Stewart (施樸樂) said...

Akari, I really look forward to reading your article. The photos of you, Loren and grandma are really nice. I will concentrate on the Japanese first and see I much I understand, before eventually reading the English. In my own blogs the last few days I have included a little Japanese, first about 今泉奈緒美 who won the Ironman Japan race by only just beating our friend Bree (a fantastic race), and secondly about Miyazaki's movie おもひでぽろぽろ which I relate to my own memories of childhood. What I write may be hard to read, but I hope you have some time to look at it. We all have very diverse and interesting backgrounds.

Bruce Stewart (施樸樂) (ブルース・スチュワート) said...

Very moving. My maternal grandmother lived to 96 and while her mind was fine, she was blind the last four years or so. She saw the grandchildren only when they were very small, and on subsequent visits to see her she could only feel them and shake their hand. It is hard for people at that sort of age and like my grandmother they often don't see any purpose in living. In the past, they could do everything themselves, but now they are so dependent on others.
I was able to recognize many of the katakana words in the Japanese version. Now I will be able to work on the hiragana vocabulary.

Akari Ueoka 上岡安佳里 said...

Dear Bruce,

Thank you so much for leaving comments again.

I visited your blog, and I also enjoyed reading your articles. Yes, I love the movie, "Omohide Poro Poro." I watched it when I was young, closer to Taeko's childhood. I think it's time to watch it again, and this time, I will be closer to the grown-up Taeko. It must be interesting to see the same movie after I had grown up some years.

Thank you for sharing a story about your grandmother. We all age eventually, and I want to contribute to the world where elders are respected and well-taken care of.



BreeWee said...

I love that photo of you in the kimono. I went to japan for 10 days and raced in the japan Ironman, I though of you...

By the way, your English is so good in these posts, I remember when I first started reading your blog... you are awesome with English now!