i know that i am still in the midst of catching up from summer posts, but today i wanted to switch gears a little.
i am not a singer. never have been- and i have come to accept that i never will be. i do, however, sing to violet in the privacy of our home. i think it is important that she bounce along to my strange rhythm and hear that people can do other things with their voice besides just talk. i am no bette midler, but i still let it loose and sing all sorts of songs to her throughout the day. and yes, she loves it.
well, this morning while i was playing with violet i started to sing her a song that i learned while serving a mission in japan. i served on okinawa, a small, beautiful island south of japan, for the majority of my mission. i pretty much biked its entirety during my stay as i learned to love the people and gain an appreciation for their centuries-old traditions. as i was singing this song to violet, my mind quickly flooded with memories of my beautiful island and i wanted to share this song on my blog today.
so with this song, i wanted to also share my favorite memory associated with it.
while we were contacting some members of our branch who hadn't been to church recently, i met michiko. michiko was an okinawan woman- through and through. she owned a small, crowded pharmacy just down the street from the church where we would meet with her once a week. as soon as we walked in, she would rush us to a little lounge she had decorated at the back of her store while she finished helping any customers she had. once they were gone, she would make us scalding hot mint tea and bring a tray of crackers or bread. at first our meetings were very routine. we asked how she was, asked if we could serve her, bore testimony and left her with a challenge. slowly we started to get to know one another, our meetings became more personal and we all looked forward to our weekly visits.
one day while we were sipping our tea, michiko started to cry. she told us about her daughter who was getting into trouble and struggling with various addictions. michiko had not raised her daughter in the church, but she had raised her to make good decisions and respect herself. the more michiko tried to help, the more distant her daughter became and michiko was terrified to lose the only person she truly loved. my companion and i were not therapists nor did we have any sort of remedy for michiko so we sat quietly and listened, letting michiko tell us stories of her daughter when she was younger and tell us and all they had done together. it truly was a sad, sweet meeting with her that day.
well, the next week when we showed up to meet with michiko, she had a surprise for us. she had remembered an old, okinawan folk song called tinsagunu hana and she wanted to sing it with us. first, she sang (and yes, she did have all those pitchy changes just like the version above) and then she asked us to join in as well. admittedly, i was embarrassed to imitate a singing style like that and i stunk at hitting all the notes but we still sang it together. she explained that the words (which are old okinawan language) talk about how children learn how to do things from their parents. when children are lost, they should remember the teachings of their parents and follow them. the words brought comfort to her knowing that maybe someday her daughter would remember her teachings. it was a very sweet moment and we sang the song a few times together.
i guess we sang so well that michiko got the idea that we needed to sing this song for the women at church- which wasn't my favorite thing to look forward to but i knew that it would help. so from then on out, at our weekly meetings michiko taught us the words to the song while she mixed up various acne medicines for me to try. apparently she wanted my face to be clear for the performance.
anyway, i now want to teach violet this song as well. it is a beautiful reminder that our parents always want what is best for us and it is important to remember what they have taught. i haven't kept in touch with michiko and at times like this i wish i had. i am sure she would love to hear how much i love this song.