Before she died, I found my Mom to be very difficult. I desperately wanted to believe that she could still recover, but it didn't happen. She became more and more isolated and belligerent. A social worker in the hospital suggested that I needed to resolve the issues between us, or I'll be "left with the grizhas in the kishkas" - a Yiddish saying that literally means, to be left with the intestinal ulcers. Like so many times in my life, when I started praying, the help was there. The burden of resentment toward my Mom lifted from my shoulders. I don't mean to sound pious or smug. The fact is that now I can think about my mother with sadness and smiles, but without hostility. God is that close to us; He surrounds us with His Mercy even when we don't expect or deserve it.
It seemed like just yesterday we had a big family at our table. Now it was just the five of us: Takahumi, I, the kids and my Dad. To better keep an eye on Dad, we moved him to live a few doors away from us. Later on, he invited a lady from our church with a teenage son to stay with him. She was God-sent - she looked after him in the evenings and at night and my father didn't charge her any rent. For a few years my life became smaller, it gelled around the immediate needs of my family. I didn't work at school anymore. I took care of my father, got paid to do so, chauffeured and did homework with the kids, cooked and watched TV. In a couple of years, one of my acquaintances asked me if I read any good books lately. I was at a loss for an answer. Ever since I was a kid, I always had my nose in the book. Now, except for "Harry Potter", nothing came to mind.