We’ve had the opportunity to travel back to Japan and introduce our kids to family there twice now; before our first son turned one and when our second was six months. I probably don’t have to say this but traveling with kids is hard and our time spent in Japan barely felt like a vacation, at least, to me it didn’t. Kids don’t care for change and when your almost-one-year-old is experiencing separation and stranger anxiety it is just plain exhausting. Most of the time the thought of whether this trip was worth it or not hovered at the back of my mind. Chances were that he wasn’t even going to remember visiting Japan as an almost toddler. But two years later when we made the trip a second time with a yet-to-crawl six month old, our first son, now going on three, instantly recognized grandma’s house and ran up the garden path to the front door laughing with excitement.
Pictured above is the kids’ great grandma who was cared for by their grandma up until she passed away this January at age 97. She could only remember about five minutes at a time and could commit nothing to memory. So every time we saw her was always the first time for her. On our second trip to Japan with the kids, great grandma was in the hospital recovering from an injury after a fall. My mother-in-law visited her almost everyday to make sure she was eating and doing the physical therapy that she needed to recover.We took the kids to visit and great grandma loved meeting our then six month old every time. And each time she was pleasantly surprised to find out he had been named after her husband. Even though she could never retain the memory of her great grandchildren I think the joy of seeing them stayed with her for a bit past what she could remember. She fully recovered and was able to spend her last weeks at home before she passed away.
I don’t mean this to be an afterthought but it was only weeks after great grandma’s funeral when my sister-in-law’s dog was killed in an accident. It was a shock for everyone as we had just seen him when my husband’s whole family had gathered for Christmas. I took the picture above when I was watching my youngest son while he played in the backyard with the dogs. I almost didn’t bring my camera out because at the time I wasn’t feeling up to it. But then I thought it might be fun to get a couple of portraits of the dogs and now I’m glad I did.