Mother – in Hawaii
For my 37th birthday, I had my parents fly to Honolulu for a vacation. The trip had been in our mind ever since I moved from Europe to the U.S. previous year. My mother had never been outside Japan, but since she started learning to dance the hula after she retired, she had longed to visit Hawaii. I booked a hotel with a view of the ocean. She didn’t sleep in the airplane, but she was visibly excited and was wide awake, intending to absorb all that was in her sight. Our relatives who lived in Honolulu drove my parents around the island while I went off scuba-diving. One night, we got back to the hotel, and my father went to bed early. I saw my mother sitting in the chair on the balcony, looking out the direction of the ocean in the dark. As I approached the window, I could hear her humming, and she looked peaceful and content. I stepped out on the balcony and sat across from her. Immediately, she looked stirred and uncomfortable as if she was spoken to by a stranger in a foreign language. Feeling hurt by her reaction but sorry for disturbing the tranquility, I stood up to retreat and leave her be.