Home again

J

ust a quick note to let you guys know that I’m back and exhausted. I feel very lucky to have a brother who is willing and able to take care of the requisite mountain of paperwork involved with the death of our father. I proofread the Japanese version of the thank you cards and chose a poem by our father to include with it. It seemed appropriate.

陽を拾い陽を背に老いの杖が行く

Hi wo hiroi
hi wo se ni oi no
tsue ga yuku

Gathering up the sunlight
and carrying it on his back
an old cane walks on

Technically, the verse is one of his best, I think. It portrays an old man (or woman) who walks unsteadily with a cane, and yet conveys the brilliance and warmth of the old man as he trods on. One word– oi –is a kakekotoba, a word with double meaning: “to carry (a burden)” and “old age”. He probably should have left the Japanese in kana–phonetic characters–rather than in Chinese characters, because by doing so, it would fix the “meaning” of the word. But when recited, the double meaning is clear. And one of the most important aspects of Japanese poetry is the oral/aural element.

This verse was composed in 1987. I’m not sure who he imagined when he composed it, but it seems to reflect him perfectly. My father was a rather popular public figure. He has been recognized by Y. Nakasone and the Japanese Government with a national medal as well as by governors of Fukushima and Miyagi Prefectures for his contribution to society by spreading and maintaining Japanese culture. And at the funeral, I was reminded that he is remembered warmly–like the sunlight–by his friends. He was very good at gathering up this warmth and carrying it with him. And he was lucky enough to keep it with him until the very end.

Anyway, I am back and will slowly return to Xanga, and visit each of you…

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