Hai Sai! Welcome to my Blog.

Hello, my name is Tom Corrao and I am the blogger behind the Okinawaology Blog. I created this blog to share and discuss all things Okinawan. I’m also the Public Relations Officer and Minkan Taishi to the Chicago Okinawa Kenjinkai. My experience with Okinawa is derived from the time I spent there during the 1980's and 90's (10 years) when serving in the United States Air Force. I've also been married to an Okinawan woman for 30 years now and have been immersed in many things Okinawan through both friends and family. I do not claim to be all knowing about everything Okinawan but I try hard and study the history and culture. I welcome everyone that is interested in Okinawa and hope that I can provide useful information to those uchinanchu that may be curious about their culture and heritage. I also welcome those who are not of Okinawan heritage but have experienced, or are experiencing, the islands culture while stationed there with the United States Military. Comments are welcomed and will be published as long as they are in good taste and on track with the purpose of this blog. My hope with this blog is to bring Uchinanchu people around the world a little closer to their cultural roots by expressing information that has started to fade in light of a more modern world. We should never forget our culture or the people who came before us and through the Blog my intentions are to meld the old with the new and implant knowledge that will help maintain the traditions and culture of an island people.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Okinawan Family Ties

I have a friend named Kay who is in Okinawa studying at Ryukyu University. She is an awesome person and understands that her heritage is a very special thing. She recently posted to her blog a story about visiting her relatives on her mothers side. Here is the story.

Matsuda is my grandma's brothers and sisters, and they are absolutely AWESOME. My perception on senior citizens have morphed thanks to all my relatives. No longer will I look at a 70 year old and call them 'old' now, since my 70-year old relatives refer to the phrase, 'when I get old,' in their speech, and point to their 90-year old relatives and call them 'old.' haha.

My grandma was supposed to make it back to Okinawa for her oldest sister's (Oba) 88th birthday in 2009. However, grandma passed away a year before that day came around.

Today I went to Hokubu to meet Oba. She was involved in a car accident this April and has been in the hospital ever since. Next year, she will be 90 years old. Up until the car crash, she was apparently a typical, genki obasan; making friends with whoever was lucky to walk into her life.

However, since April, she has been hooked up to ivy lines, and has to be fed through her nose via a tube. She isn't able to speak; and sleep and lying in her bed pan has turned into her daily routine.

My other relatives hesitated to take me to visit her at first since her comprehensive abilities have slowly sunken as well. They were worried that even if I met her, she wouldn't understand that I am her sister's granddaughter. However, I persisted that I've made it this far to Okinawa, and she's family, so I should see her. They agreed.

We went during lunch time, so all the patients were gathered in the common area and performing exercises (including a modified version of kachashii) before their meals were served. My great aunt was in the corner, unable to move. She didn't look like she was in good condition at all, and I was nervous as to what I should say or if she indeed would not understand who I was.

I walked over with Sakai ねーねー (my mom's cousin), and Kenhachi ojisan and obasan. Sakai ねーねー kneeled down to oba's ear, and with a shout-like whisper told oba that I was Kazuko's (my grandma) granddaughter, Kay.

I looked into her eyes and no sign of apprehension was visible. But then, Sakai ねーねーgrabbed my hand and placed into Oba's hand. Oba kept looking in my eyes this whole time. Then, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, something in the atmosphere triggered something in our consciousness, and we both started welling up with tears.

Oba wasn't able to speak because she was physically impaired. I wasn't able to speak because I was consumed by the moment and was helpless to do anything else but feel the spiritual connection with Oba, with my grandma, with myself, and with the soul essence of what it means to be human.

We stayed like that for a while. I showed Oba pictures of grandma and my mom. She was struggling against her limits to try and talk, and kept trying to unplug the tubes attached to her face. Sakai ねーねー had to stop her and place her hands in a mitten and tie it to the armrest precisely for that reason. Oba laughed with her eyes.

Apparently my grandma talked about me a lot and would bring pictures and news articles of me whenever she would visit Okinawa. She kept telling everyone that one day she'll come back to visit Okinawa with me.

I think that one day was yesterday.

After I showed Oba the pictures, she looked beyond to a point not existent in that room. She was not in that room, and that clock on the wall could not define where in time she was either. She was dreaming with her eyes open to a place and time which details I do not know. However, which feelings I was connected with.

I swear I almost cried when I read this story. I thought to myself, What a wonderful connection she was able to make. We should all try to live up to the standard she sets.

Please visit Kay's blog

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