Heading to Japan

In a very short time, my husband, our girls, and I will be heading for Japan to meet Kiko, my new and only granddaughter.  Most grandparents experience this moment a bit sooner than international grandparents.  Quite often, they can even visit the hospital when the baby is born.  It’s not quite the same for those of us whose children choose to live outside of their native countries.

Kiko will be five months old when we arrive in Japan.  I’ve had five months of loving this beautiful little girl from afar.  I’ve watched her coo, smile, giggle, and cry, and even scoot her way across the floor without using her arms, thanks to video chats on What’s App.  I end every call with “Grandma loves you, Kiko.”

But to hold her in our arms, feel her soft baby feet, smell her luscious baby scent — these elusive moments are finally upon us.  My heart has been aching for this since before she was born, and I’m a bit terrified.  Will she like us?  Will we frighten her?  Will she let us hold her, kiss her, treasure her?  Will she cry?   Will she love us back?  Will she understand English?

For now, my family and I are packing our suitcases, preparing gifts for our Japanese family, confirming reservations, and making plans for what to do when we arrive in Japan.  I’ll be armed with lots of baby books and baby clothes for Kiko.  And I am experiencing the sweet anticipation of holding family in my arms.

We will be there soon, and I can hardly wait.  Grandma loves you, Kiko!

© Maryanne Zawlocki – The International Grandma

Everyone Needs Their Peeps

In one of our village parks, there is a grove of trees that serves as a gathering place for turkey vultures migrating through our area. My husband Mark and I stumbled upon this unexpected sight a few years ago while riding our bikes through town. There must have been forty vultures stoically ensconced on the branches that day – like macabre ornaments strung on a lifeless tree. A little creepy, but stunning!

Recently, when I noticed a kettle of vultures circling the sky, I knew they were back. We hopped on our bikes and hurried to the park. This time, there were almost a hundred vultures, slowly waking and preparing for the day’s search for food. We marveled as they unfolded their wings, holding them open to capture the warm morning sun as it dried the moisture accumulated overnight.

I have been thinking about these magnificent birds since we saw them. Community and camaraderie are so important, regardless of our species. Vultures need one another for companionship, protection from predators,  and to find their mates. Maybe they need a little vulture gossip to keep things spicy.  Perhaps they love to share the joy of flying with their friends. They somehow find each other as they head south for the winter and north for the summer.

As people, we need to feel valued, appreciated, loved –be that by family, friends, co-workers, caregivers. Our souls need that connection with others to thrive. When we are loved, we soar. When we are hurt by others, we shrink. We all need to know that no matter what life throws at us, there is somebody in our corner, cheering us on and helping us through our most difficult days.

Those vultures have figured it out! The rest of us just need to pay attention.

© Maryanne Zawlocki – The International Grandma