Thursday, May 05, 2011

What a Week

This past week has been Golden Week in Japan, but for some reason or another I couldn't/didn't quite put together any plans to go anywhere and do something. I decided to not take any vacation days, and come in on the Monday sandwiched between this year's golden week, saving what vacation days I may want for a return trip to the US in Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Well, perhaps it was a good thing after all that I was without plans for this golden week. On Tuesday afternoon I learned of the sad news that my grandma, after a long 4 or 5 year battle with cancer, passed away at home, surrounded by my family. I'm told they sang Amazing Grace, my grandma said she loved them all, and within half an hour she had gone.

While I'm Indeed sad she's gone, and sad I couldn't be there with my family, at the same time I'm happy that she is at peace without pain, singing and dancing in heaven. I also had the means, and the time to get on a flight home the very next day, to be with my family. Within hours of hearing the news, I booked a ticket, packed up my things, cleaned up my apartment so it could sit for a week or two, and was out the door to a hotel near Narita Airport. Surprisingly the prices for tickets weren't too bad even though its Golden Week, but I bet that's because I left in the *middle* of GW. It's amazing how things seem to work themselves out like that.

So here I am, at home in Milwaukee, within 48 hours upon hearing of my grandma's passing. How grateful I am to be here. And of course I'm getting my fair share of reverse culture shock again (geeze, what's up with some restaurant staff being so rude???). Although I was very happy to be able to just jump in a car for the first time in half a year, and start driving it as if I had been every day. I didn't even have trouble driving on the right side of the road.

Oh, and what was my first meal in the US? Golden Corral baby. Nothing like all you can eat unhealthy American buffet. Oh the ranch dressing, the toppings, the cheese, the pizza, buffalo wings, bbq wings, fried chicken wings, chips and dip, fish fry, potato salad, pasta salad, cheesy potatoes, cheese cake and ice cream!! Sure glad I was able to destroy my stomach on the very first day..... nah, it was worth it.

Anyways, I'm not here for all of that (but am still enjoying what I can). I'm here because it's important for me to be here, for my grandma, and for my family, who were also very happy to see me. Actually, my house in Milwaukee is a rather unique situation where my grandparents, aunt, uncle, and 2 cousins all live in the same house. When I was in high school, that made 9 of us total (including me). But this was nothing new to my grandma who raised 7 children on the farm. So as my grandparents lived with us for... wow 10 years or more, we as a family were very very close to them. Having her gone is very difficult for us all. The distance, with being on the other side of the world and all, is also strange. I'm just so glad the world can be a small place after all if you make the effort.

More information on my grandma on her caring bridge site for anyone interested.

Gonna miss you grandma.



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