Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Geisha Dolls in the Family

                                                   My mother died when I was ten, but even though I was young, I knew her pretty well and still remember a lot about her. My dad was career military so he was gone on tours overseas a lot. Sometimes we went along with him.  My family lived in Japan and Korea off and on for almost twenty years.  I myself  lived in Tokyo from the time I was 6 months old to when I was just turning 7.  My father had only been back from an 18 month tour in Korea (his last) for about two weeks when my mom died in bed next to him of a cardiac embolism. I was in the room next door and will never, ever forget that night.  The whole time my dad was going here and there around the world on the nation's business my sisters pretty much raised me.  My mom had cancer and was hopelessly addicted to prescription pain meds. Indeed, the Stone's song, "Mother's Little Helper" was tailor made for my mom.  That's not to say she was terrible to us or anything, it was just that she was basically unavailable for large chunks of the day.  These days she'd be considered a "functioning addict". Anyway, there were many, many happy times with her and my sisters, which made the dark times easier to take. I was young and my sisters shielded me a lot - they bore the brunt of the shit that life rained down upon us.

  My dad chipped in when he was around and he provided as idyllic a middle-class upbringing as he could given that we survived on military pay and he was out of our lives 70 percent of the time. He did the best he could and he had a lot on his plate.  When my mom died, my dad mourned for a short time, then traveled through life like a zombie until he met another woman who eventually became our step mom.  This all happened in the space of a year, which really put a twist in my tail and my sister's.  Our new mother had kids of her own so we did the "Yours, Mine and Ours" thing and blended the families.  My dad became another person we grew to have a hard time recognizing from the guy we knew in the past. My sisters all rebelled at this in their own different ways.  He kicked two of them out of the house and left one pretty much alone because she was only two years older than me. I just kept my head down. I read a lot, got into my school work, listened to music and built models.

                                                                      The years went by and I grew to love my step siblings who were thrown into this situation the same as I was, but I have kept my distance from my dad who really baffled me with his behavior after my mom died. A year ago my brother in law suffered a traumatic brain injury which landed him in a nursing home at 61 with no long term memory and a sputtering short term ability.  His wife, my sister, while going through their stuff in order to down size her life, gave me a box full of things she called "family stuff from mom".  Inside were all sorts of tchotkes my mom had acquired overseas way back  before I was born and when my sisters were pre-teens.  My mom was very artistic and creative. She was a fantastic cook, which I like to think is where I get my cooking talent from (that and various Hoosier/Pennsylvania Dutch aunts and uncles who can cook the daylights out of anything). She had an eye for color, form, and proportion which I have always had and which Z-girl has in spades. My dad gave us all this urge to take stuff apart and see how things work. "Tinkering around" he calls it.  Between both parents we're gifted with good "hands-on" skills.  I took the box of stuff from my sister and stuck it in a closet in my house.  A few days ago, I was bored and decided to clean out the closet and make space for jackets and other lightweight stuff that won't be used until spring hits.  I saw this box and starting to go through it. I came up with these dolls which I remember watching my mom build piece by piece with the help of our Japanese housekeeper, Imiko whose duties as a housekeeper, I was later to discover, were to be a companion for my mother and teach her the things Imiko's own mother had taught her. Doll making was one of those things.  Along with cooking, sewing, calligraphy and flower arranging.  I remember these dolls being put in places of honor wherever we happened to be living in any given year during our years as traveling military gypsies.
Geisha with hat    So now I have them out in my house, in places of honor. There are three of them. One is getting a little run down so I've got it apart and am cleaning it up.  I'll have to replace some of its fabric. Another is slightly damaged and is sitting in my office next to the stereo.  One is almost perfect and sits on my mantle along with some cherished pics of Z-girl and her mom, some art her mom made along with photos of my own and some art we collected over the years.  Its pleasing to think how astonished my mom would have been to see where her Japanese craft projects ended up and indeed, where her son had been, where he ended up and how he turned out.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 14th, 2012 11:30 am (UTC)
Ah, your poor Mom. Was she addicted to pain meds before the cancer? Because if she started taking them after the diagnosis, technically she was not addicted. She was... coping.

It sounds like there is a lot of her in you -- the cooking but also your sensitivity to art, to creation. Interesting that after all these years she has decided to come back to you now as a benign household presence. I believe in omens, and I think this is an omen for you. A good omen. Like this year, you are going to see a very positive change in your life -- probably in the romance department. Get ready.
Nov. 15th, 2012 01:21 am (UTC)
What a poignant and wonderful read. Thank you for sharing it.
Nov. 16th, 2012 02:54 am (UTC)
I had totally forgotten about the Japanese doll my mother was given as a gift from a Japanese family we got to know. I remember the beautiful green silk of its kimono, and all the little accessories. Thanks for sharing.
Nov. 19th, 2012 03:17 am (UTC)
Wow, what a poignant story! I'm glad you've unpacked the dolls and are displaying them. They're beautiful and I love your photos of them.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )