My grandfather passed through the Golden Gate — where the Golden Gate Bridge would later be constructed — in October 1903. He was on a ship from Japan that had stopped in Honolulu. The ship’s manifest notes that he was none of the following: an anarchist, a polygamist or a cripple.
My grandfather arrived in the time between the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and the Immigration Act of 1924 (which included the Asian Exclusion Act and the National Origins Act). By 1924 the U.S. government had completely blocked the immigration of people it deemed undesirable including Asians, Arabs, people with disabilities, formerly incarcerated people, people with a history of physical or mental health issues, and the poor — along.... Read More
We most often hear the phrase “Until Death Do Us Part” at weddings, when a couple commits to fidelity and love for one another until one of them dies. The traditional wedding vows say nothing about what accompanying someone to death involves. And the vast majority of us have no training in what the dying process involves and what is required to sit with a loved one as they are dying.
My mom died in December at age 95. In reflecting on the end of her life, “until death do us part” is the phrase that keeps coming to mind. I think our bonds to parents and family are as deep as any marriage vow, and they span more of.... Read More
The Power of Generations, Part II: Legacies Across Time
Living in a four-generation family allows me to experience the waxing and waning of life. From my perspective as Obaasan (grandmother), I can observe our family’s generational inhaling and exhaling — a rising and falling that feels like a force of Nature.
Waxing/Enlarging My grandson is learning to wave at people. His hands go up and bend at the wrist in a whole hand greeting. He also greets trees, the sky, and the mobiles hanging in his room. His waving has recently become beckoning – as in “let’s go closer,” “please bring that to me,” “I want that!” In this way he draws more of the world toward.... Read More
The Power of Generations, Part I: Grandchildren & Grandparents
I am carrying my eight-month old grandson around the house, trying to help him let go and go to sleep. As I chant “Ne-ne Ko-ko, Ne-ne Ko-ko, Ne-ne Ko-ko, Yoh-oh” (sleep baby, sleep baby) over and over, I remember my grandmother carrying me on her back before my afternoon nap, chanting the same thing. I can almost feel myself in both roles at the same time – grandchild, grandparent. A special magnetism helps span these generational roles.
Just Enough Distance While my relationships with son, daughter and elderly mother are very active and dominated by the present, when I interact with my grandson and my granddaughter I’m often thinking about my past and their future. I am remembering my.... Read More
My mother is 94 years old and was admitted to hospice care a month ago. Getting there was a huge life/medical milestone for her and our family involving multiple doctor visits, calls and meetings with staff from two assisted living facilities, calls to her HMO and the hospice organization, meetings with hospice staff, emails and meetings with family members, forms signed and sent, and endless scheduling. Mom ended up moving from one facility to a sister facility with a higher level of care, so I also organized packing, movers and family help within a compressed time period. It was a withering amount of logistics.
Reflecting upon this recent period, I glean three key learnings about how to navigate this transition.... Read More
At this time of year we often see cards that say “Peace on Earth.” Gatherings of family and friends make us think of our bonds to other people and a wish for peace. But what does peace really look like in our lives?
Take a moment to think about how peace looks (or would look like) in your life. Then think about how it would manifest in the life of the world.
Is it calmness and tranquility? Complete lack of conflict? Is it about reconciliation of past differences? Is work involved? Is there any struggle or challenge? How is your vision of peace similar to or different from what you see and read about?