“Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul.” – Henry Ward Beecher
I am grateful for many things. Starting with the fact that I was born to the parents I had and raised in a house filled with love, honor and respect. As Father’s Day approaches this week, I’m reminded that this Father’s Day is the second one without my father.
And, my heart aches.
My father, in addition to the many life lessons he taught his children (some with tough love), quietly taught us the power of forgiveness. When he was 12-years-old, he and his family were captured by the Japanese in the Philippines on December 8, 1941. One day after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
They remained prisoners until rescued in 1945 by American and Philippine soldiers in the rescue of Los Banos. He wrote his story when he was 15-years-old and you can read it here – Perspective: December 8, 1941.
Twenty years later, in the 1960’s, he lived in Japan for 3 years (with us, his family). He was an Air Force pilot and we were stationed in Japan. Going to the homeland of his tormentors must have been one of the hardest things he had ever done. Memories flooded him and night terrors tormented him. As young children during our time in Japan, we were oblivious to his past and he faced his demons with quiet dignity.
Never fully “recovered” from his ordeal, in his declining years those demons flooded back in times of high stress: when waking up from major surgery, under pain meds that led to hallucinations; nightmares where his feet would start moving in bed, running from his enemies; dementia were he would confuse Asian caregivers with tormentors from his past.
Several times over his last few years of life, during emergencies, when I would arrive at the hospital, he would look at me, his face relaxing in recognition, his blue eyes brimming with tears and he’d say, “oh, Carole, I’m so glad you are here…” and then, in his confused state, he’d try to tell me what was causing his anxiety. Each time my heart breaking as I realized I was no longer his child and that our roles had reversed.
As emotionally hard as his elder care journey was on me, his adult daughter, I would not trade one of those moments for something different. Because it made me understand what a truly wonderful and unique family I had, anchored by two amazing, wonderful people, who happened to meet in college, fall in love and get married.
And, I am grateful.
On a gray, cloudy day in early spring, we visited the lovely Temecula Duck Pond in Temecula, California. Brimming with life, this pond is a popular visiting place. Centrally located off Interstate 15 and near restaurants, shopping centers and hotels, this peaceful pond celebrates friendship with other nations and includes a Veterans Memorial.
These photos are cherry blossom trees at one edge of the pond and bookend the Japanese garden part of the pond. Twenty years ago, the City of Temecula established a sister city relationship with Daisen, Japan. This part of the pond highlights that relationship and this past April, the City of Temecula erected a 10-foot high Torii Gate as a tribute to mark this 20th anniversary.
And, even though I am marking this Father’s Day without my father, I am grateful.
Until Next Time,
(other posts about my father and elder care)
- A Gifted Man
- Both Sides of Clouds
- Daddy’s Girl
- High Flight
- Perspective: December 8, 1941
- Many a Winding Turn
- Pictures at an Exhibition
- Requiem for My Father