It’s Christmas Eve Eve and I’m chilling with my pops on the couch.
It was an eventful day: we had ugly sweater day at work. Violet and I had dinner with our friends Jess and Leah (Violet went as Minnie Mouse and yelled at a stranger for calling her “Minnie”. “I’m not Minnie, I’m Violet!!”). We got home and put on our jams (pajamas) for a little bit of relaxation. Then my parents came home. And they both fell on the porch. Yes. Both of them. Tomorrow we will go to Lowe’s to find out how to install a railing. Violet was very concerned. “MeeMaw, are you okay?” “Pop Pop, are you okay?” She just kept asking over and over again even when they told her they were okay. As luck, or guardian angles would have it, my mom broke my dad’s fall, and neither of them broke any bones. We live very close to a nice, strong and handsome man who was able to fly on over and save the day. (Read: I called him and he came to pick up my dad as my mom was dizzy and I’m hobbling on a “boo boo foot”). Nice, strong, handsome men are the best. Except it would have been better if he would have brought ice cream.
So here I sit chilling with my pops on the eve of Christmas Eve. He watches PBS. First it was a choir from some college. They were good. Then this show came on about an amazing sushi restaurant in Japan that is in a subway and seats like ten people and cost $350 per person. I didn’t pay attention to the whole thing because you had to read the subtitles. I’m tired after all of the events of today. Here is the part I did read.
This Japanese man is 85 years old. He has a few sons, he’s been teaching them the art of sushi making for their whole lives. The old sushi mans says that when he was five years old his father told him “you have no home to come home to, you have to work”. Let me say that again. WHEN HE WAS FIVE YEARS OLD his father told him that he has no home to come home to. And he said, “that’s when I knew I was on my own.” He tells the rest of the story about his father, who had a failed business and turned to drinking. This old sushi man worked for a couple of years (age 5-7), however he could, so that he could go “home” to his dad. When he turned 7 his dad left and he never saw him again. At the age of 7 old man sushi knew he was on his own for good.
Old man sushi taught his boys that they must work hard to be successful. He helped one of his sons open another little tiny but wildly successful sushi restaurant somewhere in Japan. And when that sons restaurant opened, old man sushi told his son, “now you have somewhere to go home to”.
Work = home. The words that this man heard when he was only five years old will *never* leave him. Ever.
I understand that World War II era Japan is wildly different than my 1980’s/ 1990’s America upbringing. But children are children, so I can draw this parallel. The first five years of their lives are so so so important, and so many parents are just simply careless with the words they choose, and the example they provide. Children are people. Smaller people. People with brains that soak everything in like a sponge.
Old man sushi has perfected the art of sushi making. He will never be happy with his work, and always sees room for improvement. There are people that travel to Japan JUST to eat at his tiny subway restaurant. At 85 years of age he has no desire to retire. To him work is home. He doesn’t know any other way. It’s the only lesson his dad ever taught him.
My dad, he taught me a lot of lessons. He taught me about compassion, empathy, love. He taught me about charity, and about when to be skeptical. When I was five he use to pick me up and say, “Who loves you, baby?” And I’d say “Daddy!!” Then we’d giggle. As a fully grown woman, I work hard and I’m successful, because my dad led by example and taught me the importance of hard work.
There is more than one way to get from point A to point B. I understand that “tough love” may yield results. So does unconditional love. That’s the kind of love I choose.