Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Rebuilding thoughts from Florida

Feeling almost human again as I finally slept through the night; my body and my brain, at last, in the same place. Florida is warm and breezy, the perfect time of year to be here- grandparents, aunts, and cousins all around so it feels festive and spring break like. The chance to cook in my parent's open kitchen with warm feet and electricity is done with greater awareness for what we have here. I do notice every auxiliary light and desire to keep as many lights off as possible; there are people with no electricity in Japan! I don't think we should lose this thought but I try not to say it while I am here.

My dad took the kids and I to the park yesterday. An old neighbor from maybe twenty years ago approached me and gave me a hug! It was such a surprise to see him. I had played with his kids off an on over the years during times my parents were stationed here. He asked me, "How are your grand kids?" I had to laugh! "Actually, they are my kids." Kids come a bit earlier in life around these parts. He caught us up on his six kids and seventeen grandchildren. I remember as a child we rarely saw his wife as she was always busy in the house. He also counseled me about disasters. Hurricane Ivan hit the Gulf Coast really hard a few years back- tore up the coast and destroyed a lot of properties in this area. People and businesses were without power for weeks and had to rebuild. He pointed out that though it was hard, "a lot of good came from it. Folks in Japan will find new technology. It will be something no one could have imagined. New things will come of this." I appreciated his sentiments.

My son keeps asking about going swimming and to the water park which do not open until Memorial Day in May. We have only been here in the heat of summer before so he is a bit confused. More cousins are incoming this weekend and staying at the beach. We'll have to try swimming there, but I fear the water may be cold. The weather feels good though.

Today we are going to a memorial service for my aunt's best friend. She was one of those hurricane survivors who lost everything- her house was destroyed, the yard flooded. Much of the past years of her life were about rebuilding her house. She was an older single woman with a job and little resources so she had to await the insurance payments and make it happen as they came- a slow and drawn out process. She did much of the work herself and in the end made her house better than before. I am glad we can be here for her service. Funerals of our grandparents during our time away have been one of the factors for me in wanting to return to the States. You realize how much of life here you are missing.

My aunt went to check on her friend as she had been feeling ill and found her on the kitchen floor, her life gone. It has been a hard image to shake from her memory. Her friend had come to the family BBQ every summer we came to Florida so it seems fitting that we go to her memorial service. There are also a pair of polka dot slippers just arrived at my house in Kamakura from her friend who hearing of my cold feet troubles had send them. I asked about the thank you note I had sent; my aunt said it had arrived. I was so glad I had gotten it into the mail. Thank you notes always make me smile; I hope she had one in the last week of her life from us. Every little bit helps. In the cookbook her nieces made for her memorial service, I found this quote, "I know I am so much better off now than I was before [Hurricane] Ivan and the only things I miss are some old photographs and one cast iron frying pan."