Telling Stories to the Bittersweet End

My aunt with dementia is in hospice care now, not eating, drinking only a bit, and mostly sleeping. Several of us are taking shifts sitting with her, making her feel loved and sometimes getting her to smile and even laugh whenever she’s awake. Otherwise, we don’t know what to do. But her out-of-state sister came to visit and the two had a lovely time as the sister told stories of their childhood and teen years and about their parents. The rest of us loved hearing those stories!

As my mother did when she was in her last years of dementia, my aunt enjoyed those old memories. Even if she didn’t actually remember, the stories were sweet and sometimes funny, and she was a part of them. The sister’s job is to start writing those stories for all the family. I had my mother’s stories from writing her Cherry Blossoms in Twilight memoir of childhood and young womanhood in Japan around WWII times. Doesn’t this remind us of the Nicholas Sparks novel and the movie The Notebook?

My tagline is “Saving the past for the future.” This holds poignant meaning when the future is our own.

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My Crazy Trip to Japan Travel Memoir

I did it! After 7 years I finally put together my notes, memories, and photos and published a family-only little travel memoir of the October 2015 first-time trip to Japan I took with my sister and our daughters to see the land of our heritage and to meet cousins (who could not speak English). That week-plus visit was so challenging for me as to be almost ridiculous. Why? A couple of my language school friends had gone with few Nihongo skills and had a great time. I could speak rudimentary Japanese although I could not understand much when people spoke it back to me (in rapid-fire words I did not know yet). Organized and detail-oriented me had everything planned out with copious notes. Yet still we were “lost” so often it was maddening – I had a bucket list to attend to and no time to waste.

That was probably the problem. I am not a particularly good traveler as I like everything just so with no bumps in the road, and I do not like to be the leader. Since I and most of our group would likely not ever go back to Japan, I wanted to get the most out of that trip. We had only one tour booked and that was just an overnighter, otherwise I was the illiterate guide in a foreign land. I had nervous nightmares beforehand and quite a few came true, hence the title of our book.

The family-only paperback of My Crazy Trip to Japan (via only went to us travelers, and they loved reliving the memories. Then my dad wanted to read it so I had a copy shipped to him. He and my stepmom LOVED it! When I posted about it on Facebook and told some friends, quite a few wanted to read it. I did not want to publish it for others since it had some family-personal details and photos of us and, most importantly, I did not want to scare people away from visiting Japan. Japan is an amazing country of impressive ancient history mixed with modern plus beautiful rural areas we all fell in love with! With so many others loving their Japan travels with no problems to speak of, I knew it was just me, my OCD personality and expectations, travel inexperience, and some bad luck.

Well, I just put the e-book version on Amazon through its Kindle Direct Publishing arm. I did know how to format the manuscript for e-book and it looks good. KDP has a super-limited cover creator that re-created the one I made for the Lulu paperback original well enough. This e-version is edited to alter the names of my reticent Japanese family members but my fellow travelers were fine with using their real first names. I removed the photos with us in them for our (their) privacy, whether they cared or not. I was pleased to see the photos showed up very well and placed correctly. KDP will take a paperback-formatted manuscript and auto-convert to e-book, but I only uploaded directly for e-book since I figured no one would really want a print version. I priced the e-book as low as possible ($2.99) to still get the 70% royalty (minus Amazon fees). It is available almost worldwide, for laptop and most any device, and it’s free for Kindle Unlimited customers.

So if you’re interested in a boots-on-the-ground experience of my challenging trip to Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara, and the Japanese Alps, I welcome you to read – and leave review comments please. You can laugh, but I’m not over my exhaustion yet!

My Crazy Trip to Japan e-version

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Merry Old Christmas Stuff

Since our kids are grown and we have no grandchildren yet, I’ve been putting up just a 3-foot tree. Sometimes real, sometimes not. This year not. As I pulled out our rather sad little old fake tree I noticed my mom’s sadder little old fake tree. What should I do with that scraggly thing with the frayed needles? Mom wired small pinecones on it to “look natural.” Just like her to do something like that. Mom has been gone ten years now and her little tree pulled at my heart.

I put my tree on the end table by the window in our living room and put my mom’s tree on the floor in the corner by the TV and bookcase. My little tree has colored lights and some shiny German ornaments but on my mom’s tree I put a strand of red wooden beads that are supposed to be like strung berries. More natural, like the pinecones. I put a few of my oldest ornaments on it, some from my childhood and some wooden ones made by my mom’s friend years ago. I added a couple clusters of shiny fake berries – Mom would have approved. And just like that, I love that scraggly little tree. A Charlie Brown Christmas moment.

Merry Christmas! Wishing all a warm and safe holiday season and a new year of good health and many blessings!

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