|Yokohama, Japan, where my sister-in-law lives|
Not to be outdone, right after that, Taka's sister and her family from Japan decided to visit us in America. Taka went to pick them up from the airport and I stayed home to make everything ready. A long time passed. Finally, he called to tell me that his sister forgot to bring with them their little daughter's Birth Certificate. That meant that they had to stay with us until the above mentioned document could be procured from Japan, so they could prove that the girl they had with them was their own daughter. I was glad to have them with us, but the whole situation reminded me too much of my sister's couple's ordeal not to start believing that either there was somebody out there to get us or that BOTH sides of our family were extraordinary unlucky.
I began working as a Teacher's Aid in a small school. When my brother-in-law got his Green Card, Lera and Grisha tried again to make it a go in the U.S. Without thinking much of it, I charged in to help them settle and find jobs. Lera, my sister, had a degree in Microbiology from Russia, but all she could find was a job in a convalescent home, washing dishes. Her husband, actually, worked in Denmark as a physical therapist with the athletes and the elderly, but, I guess, he had enough of the old folks. After an extensive search and a lot of drama, he also became a Teacher's Aid.
She went through chemotherapy. It prolonged her life, but it also took it away. She separated herself from the family, even from her beloved grandchildren. It seemed that she was pushing us all away before she was forced to lose everyone forever.
While all that was happening, my father had to have a heart bypass (he called it a bay-pass) surgery. We were all tremendously invested in taking care of him and helping him get better. My Mom was always fighting one ache or another, so it didn't become immediately apparent in the hubbub that she was seriously ill. It took about three months to get the diagnosis: cancer.