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Debbie Ridpath Ohi reads, writes and illustrates for young people. Every few weeks, she shares new art, writing and resources; subscribe below. Browse the archives here.

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on display topic: "homesick"

*"Life In A Nutshell" comic updated*

This our seventh day at the cottage...time's going by way too fast. Still, we've had more time alone here this visit than we've had in a very long time (hey, when we came here for our honeymoon we only had three days by ourselves :-)). Jeff and I went for another hike yesterday, this time near Joe Lake. On the way to our starting point, we met our friends Willi and Shirley Powell, with their kids, Emma and Spencer. Emma was a newborn last time I saw her, so it was a bit of a jolt to see her helping paddle their canoe (granted, with a smaller paddle) and talking.

I've updated my Reading Lord of the Rings - A Final Attempt log, for those interested. Thanks to Cory Doctorow for mentioning my log in BoingBoing. And hey, a reporter for the Sunday Herald Sun (Melbourne, Australia, circ: 530,000) just interviewed me for an article about my LOTR project for this weekend's paper. He said he's finding it pretty entertaining and confesses he's had a lifelong aversion to LOTR himself. :-)

Today's entry is written for On Display, a group of online journalists who collaborate in writing projects. This month's theme is "moods", and we each had to pick a mood to write about. I chose homesickness, figuring I could write about what it was like in Philly, when I lived away from husband, family, and friends.

But then I realized that what I went through was nothing compared to homesickness experienced by some others, like my mother. It's her birthday today (she died over ten years ago, from cancer).

When I was very young, I remember asking Mom where she first met my Dad. Her answer confused me somewhat: "At the airport", but I figured that maybe they had run into each other while waiting for flights. It was only years later that I discovered that when Mom actually met my father in person at the airport, it was because she had flown to Canada from Japan to marry him. A missionary had introduced them as penpals, and they had talked many times on the phone as well as corresponding...but had never met in person.

Mom died before I thought to have any meaningful conversations with her about how she felt, leaving everything familiar behind her, to a country whose people spoke a different language, had different customs. How difficult it must have been to say good-bye to her family and friends, not knowing when she would see them again.

As our middle-income family grew larger, I suspect that flights to Japan fell low on the priority list. We went on family trips instead, driving across Canada to see the Rockies, down to Florida to visit Key West. They were wonderful vacations contributing to happy childhood memories, and I would like to believe the closeness our family shared helped Mom cope with how much she must have missed her own family.

Mom visited Japan only once after she moved here, and that was for her own mother's funeral. That must have been such a bittersweet homecoming.

We children were oblivious, of course (or at least I was). I don't remember anything about her going away except that she brought presents for us when she came home from Japan. Sigh.

As an adult, I appreciate much more what she must have gone through, and how much she must have loved my father to make the choice that she did.

Today's Blatherpics:

  • My mom with (from left to right) me, Jim, and Ruth.

  • Willi, Spencer, Emma, and Shirley.

  • Me, in the boat on the way back from our hike yesterday.


    Do you tend to put salt on your meal before tasting your food first?
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