Статьи Скотта Гормана (Scott Gorman)

January 13, 2009

Ten Thousand Miles Away, A Family Member Dies

There is a curious game played in Japan, sort of a mixture of croquet and golf called “Ground Golf.” It’s played on a mostly flat surface with mallets that one must occasionally use like a golf driver.

One sunny day early in 2001, before the Siberian Express began howling through Kisakata, our Japanese sister city, I was invited for my first round of ground golf.

Looking very dashing in his ground golf gear and accessories, confident on the course, was town planning chief Heimei Saito, who had become a friend to me.

Soon, he was laughing, albeit politely, at my ground golf antics.

Saito-san enjoyed his days, as far as I could see. He loved to laugh, to have discussions on world events with me through my friend and interpreter Kenny Lee.

He was a very kind man. When my email was still not hooked up by September 12, 2001, he applied a considerable amount of pressure on staff and soon three people were at my home-by-the-sea, working it out.

What had he told them?

“This man has family in the United States! He’s worried for them. What could be more important!”

He was proud of his community club, and helped arrange for me to go out with a fishing boat. What did he ask for in return? To write a story about the day, with some pictures, to unveil at the next community club meeting. He wanted to surprise with pleasure his friends and family among the fishermen. I did as he wished, happily.

Saito-san was also canny and spoke the truth more directly than most of the other folks in town I knew.

Once, I exclaimed, “people are so nice to me here!”

With a wry smile, he responded: “To you, yes. But Scotto-san, they know who you are – you do stand out – and who sponsored you here, so you are a special case.”

That made some sense, but then he added:

“But you are also liked by the people because you so obviously like them.”

Then he shook my hand, limply in the Japanese style, and said, “it’s very good you are here.”

But now I’m not. And either is Saito-san. A few weeks ago, without any forewarning of danger, he died suddenly from what I gather was a brain hemorrhage. He was in his early 50s.

I have experienced a lot of loss lately: My Uncle Jerry, my Aunt Miriam. I mourned for them. I had known them my entire life. But I also mourn for the dapper small gentleman with that sense of humor and wisdom and his love of life.

It’s the other side to making people all over the world part of your family: There’s a death in the family practically all the time. And you can’t be there to mourn.

So I sent a note that was read at his funeral service. I’m glad I could be there in at least that way.

I suppose that his final resting place is at thousand-year-old Kanmanji Temple. When in Kisakata, my civic duty was to help clean up the grounds. When I return, I will bring food and beverages for Saito-san to enjoy, as is customary. And then I will clean up his gravesite as if it were that of a family member.

Because that’s what it is.

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16