Japan

A March visit...

March 22, 2011
My grandfather makes potato pancakes again today, this time without a heavy-handed dose of cornstarch and they're much better.  I always ask for potato pancakes because I know that potatoes are my grandfather's favorite food. I also think lately he's been getting more stressed about cooking because he's forgotten how to make so many things.  He forgets that he relearns it because often if he doesn't make something every week, like he's been making these potato pancakes, he will tell me, "I haven't made this in fifteen years!"  But, I'll remember that he made it a couple months ago...

I didn't know how much and for how long my grandfather loved potatoes.  He tells me that when he was young, his brothers would call him "shu jai tow," which means "potato head."

My grandmother starts asking me when I'm getting married again.  I'm glad that she says "again" because it means she remembers that I was married once.

"Why bother?" my grandfather shrugs. "Costs money to get married.  And too much paperwork."

For some reason, the conversation turns to Japan.

"Your parents, they like 'shushi,' " my grandfather says matter-of-factly.  He really doesn't like sushi.  To him it's just a piece of slimy raw fish and sour cold rice.  He tells me about when he and my grandmother went to Japan on a vacation.  I remember when I was young, it seemed like every summer my grandparents went on some exotic vacation.

"Everything was hot! Couldn't stand it!"  my grandfather says, shaking his head.  I think they went in the summer.

My grandfather tells me the legend of Japan.

"The Emperor of China in the Ming Dynasty sent fifty men and fifty women to go towards the Rising Sun to get long life medicine.  They didn't get nothing! So they stayed there and that became Japan.  But after a while, their dialect changed."

My grandmother starts complaining about her hands being cold.  She reaches out and makes me touch her fingers.

"When I'm sleeping too good, she sticks her hand out over here," my grandfather says, motioning her poking him with her cold hands, "and I jump! She loves that!"

It amazes me that after being married for almost seventy years, they are still able to play with each other like a couple of kids.

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