Thursday, August 26, 2010

Gratitude is the key to happiness 2

In 2004, I invited my mother from Japan because of my family emergency. I told her, "You don't have to worry about anything. Grab your handbag and come." When I picked her up at the San Francisco Airport, I was surprised because she literally accepted my words and came with only a small bag. I believe she was brave woman and kind mother to her children because she didn't know how to write an immigration document and costom declaration form. She didn't understand English, so the officers in immigration and customs who faced her gave up ordering her to fill out forms and started helping her.

While she stayed with my family, my mother taught us a lot of things. Sometimes some of them were not comfortable to hear, but they were valuable suggestions. My family was very happy with her. On the contrary, the longer my mother stayed, the less comfortable she felt. One of the reasons was that she had to often stay at home alone. My mother started saying that she would suffer dementia if she continued the same life style here. However, we could not help. She came here to help our family. Day by day she gradually lost her appetite.

Six weeks later my brother visited me from Japan, and we planned to go to Las Vegas and Grand Canyon with my mother. However, the day we planned to leave, her physical condition suddenly turned very bad. We changed our flights, and I made an appointment for the doctor for her. When I asked my mother to change her clothes to visit the doctor, her condition became worse, and she could not move. I called 911 for the very first time in my life. We all cancelled our trip, and my mother ended up at the hospital for her trip. Her kidney was infected.

In the hospital my mother wanted so much to go back to Japan. I arranged a ticket for her to go back to Japan with my brother. She stayed at the hospital overnight. Then, in two days she went back to Japan. After my brther and my mother left, many debts remained to me such as the cancellation of our trip fees and ambulace and hospital fees. My mother's insurance in Japan doesn't much cover these expenses in America. Although there were some negative happenings, my family was able to learn very valuable and important lessons from my mother. The best thing I learned from her was the spirit and attitude of taking great care of things and matters in my daily life. For example, my mother didn't waste anything. When I finished eating and wiped my mouth with a paper napkin and threw it, she scolded me saying, "Don't waste it! You can still use it." I didn't know how she could use it, but she used it to clean her dishes before washing. She used it to blow her nose as well. Not only napkins but also plastic wrap after using the microwave she kept it and used it in a different way.

This reminded me of a story. When my father passed away, my mother received a very small widow's pension every three months. It was too small to live on; therefore, she asked her children to send some money for help. I send 50,000 yen (about $500) over 5 years. After 5 or 6 years later when we had started sending money, she suddenly told us that we didn't hanve to send money anymore. She said she decided to build a new house. I asked her how she could pay. She said that she had already paid. That was a real surprise for us and her 7 children were so delighted. But, how could she save? She had a small vegetable yard and grew some for hersef. She was grateful to everything what she had and took great care of them. That was the real answer.

My wife and I knew the way of not wasting things in our daily life and followed the way we knew. However, compared with my mother's life, we didn't achieve less than one fifth or one tenth of what my mother did. We were able to learn wholeheartedly from my mother how she could take great care of things and not waste even a napkin or plastic wrap.

I also learned how important it is to communicate with medical staff and firefighters when I called 911 and when in the hospital. My mother, my wife and my brother didn't speak English; therefore, medical staff and firefighters watched to find what they should do. So, they asked my mother to walk. I called the ambulance because she couldn't move. No one helped her; so my wife tried to put mom's shoes on her foot. Still my mother couldn't move. My brother got upset and tried to put her on his back. However, she was too heavy to move, and he stumbled. Suddenly the laughter bubbled up from 911 people who surrounded my mother and brother. That was not so appropriate. I heard this story both from my brother and my wife. I was in the next room to explain to one of the medcal staff to my mother's medical history. I understood that they could not communicate with my wife or brother; therefore, they had to wait until they found how my mother should be treated. At the same time, I sincerely appreciated them because they came to my home within a few minutes. They helped a person who doesn't speak English or who was just a traveler and even doesn't pay tax in the United States.

I don't have to list everything of what I have learned from these experiences; however, because of these incidents which do not have to always have positive aspects give my family members great lessons to turn our minds to the spritual side and to improve ourselves. I am sincerely greateful to these incidents. And I tell you that when my mother arrived at the Narita Airport in Japan, her condition was dramatically improved. Now, she is perfectly alright. I also tell you that the total cost of my mother's expenses was enormous. I had no idea how I or my mother could pay that amount. Fortunately, I discussed this cost with a social worker at the hospital where my mother hospitalized and finally I could settle to pay much less amount of the original cost. I am very grateful to the result that everything turned out best for me and my family. Therefore, whatever happens, gratitude surly leads us to happiness. (to be continued tomorrow)

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