Oba-chan ni. Sakuranohanabira. Itsumo akaruku, itsumo soko ni, soshite itsumo kaika. Anata ga inakute totemo sabishī. Watashitachi o mioroshite, egao de watashitachi o mite iru koto o negate imasu. Watashitachi wa anata o kesshite wasuremasen. Watashitachi wa anata o aishitemasu. Watashi wa itsumo anatanoegao, anata no warai, anata no kao, soshite anata ga soratobu dōbutsu o kowagara seta hōhō o omoidashimasu. Sore wa istumo anata no koto o omoidashimasu. Kono essei wa oba-chan ni sasagemasu.
Translation: For my Oba-chan. The petal in the cherry blossom tree. Always bright, always there, and always blossoming. We miss you so much. We hope that you are looking down on us and watching us with a smile upon your face. We will never forget you and honor you every chance we get. We love you. I will always remember your smile, your laugh, your face, and the way you got scared of flying animals. That will always be a memory I remember of you. This essay is dedicated to you oba-chan.
My Oba-chan (Pronounced O-ba-ch-an) and father have always had a close relationship before she passed away on June 6th, 2013. My father would always take care of her in her old age and did everything he could to put a smile on her face. He always tried to visit her as much as he could once he moved out of the house, he often made time to see her, and as she was getting sicker and sicker, he visited her more often until it was time to say a final goodbye.
One distinct memory that comes to mind was when my father introduced my Oba-chan to our sugar bears, a flying squirrel-like animal that fits into the palm of your hand. Theirs names were Cooper and Juice. When we first walked into the house, we do our normal tradition of taking off our shoes before we enter and placing our bags onto the ottoman. We carried Cooper and Juice in this little black pouch until Oba-chan came out of her room and we took them out of the pouch. She was holding Mikey, her yorkie puppy as she walked out of her room and walked up to my father with a confused and concerned look on her face. When she realized that it was a sugar bear she was shocked but very interested in Cooper and Juice She kept a tight hold on Mikey, her dog as she stared down at my father’s chest where Cooper and Juice were running across. In the background of them was a Japanese tapestry with a mirror and birdcage. My father kept trying to calm Juice and Cooper down, so they didn’t jump on Oba-chan. In a video that my father still has to this day there was a dialogue between them. Oba-Chan then asked. “What’s their name?”
“Juice and Cooper.” My father replied.
“Truce?” She asked confused. She was also hard of hearing, so we had to repeat to her multiple times.
“Juice. Like orange juice.”
“Oh! Juicy juicy. That’s so cute.”
The conversation continued.
“Boy or girl?” She asked curiously.
“Boy!” I answered. I was there to in the background. I guess I wanted to jump into the conversation. My voice was loud and sounded like a child’s. I was as child at the time, so it makes sense.
“So now you like me now huh?” Oba-chan said to Juice and Cooper who were still on her shoulder.
Of course, Juice and Cooper didn’t reply. They were just hanging out on her shoulder as most the family was watching her with laughter and smiles on their face. The people that were there that day were my father, my mother, my father’s mother and father, and myself. We continued to talk in the video, but at the end of the video she goes. “Wow!” Amazed towards Cooper and Juice as she continued to pet them. As I took at a glance at my father, it was clear he was having fun with the smile on his face. I remember his smile faded when he heard she passed away later on.
Their relationship could be described as familial love. She was like a second mother to him. She was a part of his heart, soul, and mind. After she passed away, he was heartbroken. He eventually got a tattoo of koi fish, cherry blossoms, and a tengu mask in honor of her as a tribute. The fish swimming down means overcoming obstacles and the blue colors mean peace and tranquility. The tengu mask means to push away bad spirits and nightmares. Lastly, the cherry blossoms mean that someone passed and represents life and how fragile life is. It meant that she would always be with him no matter what the circumstances are. Through my father’s darkest moments or toughest times, he looks back on memories such as those with Juice and Cooper or any other memory with Oba-chan and remembered that there were good times in his life and there will continue to be good times in his life.
It reminds me of a most recent memory I have with my father. We were going through his camera roll searching for something unrelated, but we happened upon a picture of Oba-chan holding Cooper or Juice, I can’t remember which one. But she was smiling in the picture with the sugar bear on her shoulder, her hand touching him, and the crinkles in her eyes could be clearly seen. She was staring straight at the camera as though she was looking into your soul. Her hair was short, white, and her ring could be clearly seen in the picture. There was another picture that we found of her. Her eyes were squinting because that was the first initial reaction of having Juice and Cooper on her shoulders. She was still smiling despite being uncomfortable at first. I remember being there in person watching my father take the picture of her. It was so obvious how happy he was and how he will remember this memory forever. Clearly, he did because he still has the picture to this day. She will forever live on in our lives and memory.
Each year it gets tougher when the anniversary of her death comes. Despite it being seven years since her passing, it never gets easier. Humans only have one life and that life is fragile. No one knows when someone will pass, it can happen in a minute, an hour, a day, a year, and yet, we still never expect it to happen to those we hold close to us. The day of her passing brought back memories such as the Juice and Cooper memory and many other memories that we eventually have forgotten all about. But with remembering one memory it opens our mind to a world of memories that we stored in the back of our mind that was finally brought into the light. That distinct memory was just one of many that we’ve had with her. Deep down my father and I, we know she’s not gone. She can’t be seen right now. In the future, one day, maybe not soon, but one day, my father will be able to see oba-chan again and they’ll be reunited with one another. Then later in life, when it’s my time, and my turn, I’ll be reunited with her as well. Then that’ll become another new memory in our souls.