Tuesday, February 10, 2009

She hated to be leashed

I keep hearing that my mother was very sick in her young days. She was 2nd daughter of 4 sisters and 1 brother in Russian side of Japan, snowy country side. Age 23, she graduated local university and became a teacher. It was unusual for a Japanese girl to graduate from a university. It was 1940's. She said she was lucky to be sick because she could keep reading books in bed while her other sisters and brother needed to work in rice field. That's my mother's mentality. It looks like sickness let her down a while physically, but it could not let her spirit down.

She became a teacher of Japanese language. She had her own style of teaching which her principal did not like. She had continuous problem of arguing against her principal and vice principal. But, she was just first year 20+ years old new teacher, there was no argument against them. At the end of the day, she needed to say "Hai - Yes, sir" to her supervisors. She hated the feeling. She did not like to be ordered in the way she did not agree, she did not like, and she did not understand. She thought many times that she would have agreed with them without arguing, if they can persuade her, explain to her, and made sure she is comfortable with their orders. But in those days, things did not happen that way in Japan. Most of the cases they just ordered her either to stop what she was doing or ordered her to do what they do. When she asked back why, they just say do as what they tell her to do. No explanation.

She started to explorer her possibility to get out of her problems. She started to attend Hair Dressing School at night and obtained national license to be a hair dresser. As soon as she got licensed, she resigned the school and jumped into a train to Tokyo. She opened small humble hair dressing shop downtown Tokyo. I heard that when she was planning to open her shop, she met my father who was an architect and helped her to design her shop. She unleashed herself.

Her friends laughed at her because she abandoned respectable and honorable job being a teacher and became a hair dresser. But her shop was busy because she opened it close to "Geisha" Place and lots of Geisha girls liked her shop close to their working place. She continued to work. She hired 2 additional hair dressers. When her husband became sick, diabetic, she continued to work supporting her husband to be hospitalized and take proper treatment. She could save enough to get her family a house. She bought a house in western outskirts of Tokyo and decided to retire at the age 58. When she was 69, her husband, my father passed away. Her saving enabled her to buy out the place where she used to have hair dressing shop and build an apartment. She had almost perpetual income.

Today, my mother is 85 years old and alive and kicking in Tokyo. When I asked to go back to Tokyo to take care of her, she said "NO". She wanted me to do what I wanted to do as she did. She is the largest investor in my company and most reliable partner with my wife.

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Shaw Funami
Fill the Missing Link

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Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Shaw .. how interesting .. & they look lovely in the photo ... isn't it amazing how stories grow and develop & how families extend their lives and change their histories - & good for her .. to let you live yours, but also to be your biggest supporter .. that's fantastic .. go for it & be successful = you will ..

All the best - Hilary Be Positive Be Happy

Shaw said...

Hello Hilary, I wondered if I should post this story or not. It was too personal and felt a little shy on my mother thing. I am glad I did. Because I could get comments like yours. Thank you for your comment.

Giovanna Garcia said...

Hi Shaw

Your mother is a strong lady. An inspirational person. And the relationship of you and your mother is something that a lot of us wish for.
Thank you for sharing this with us.
Giovanna Garcia
Imperfect Action is better than No Action

Shaw said...

Hi Giovanna,

It took me long time to drive my relationship with my mother here, quite honestly. But, I am happy that I could regain my relation with my mother. Thank you for your comment.