I miss them, close ones that are no longer living among us. I have missed them especially the past week when the memories of the dead take center stage in Japan during the Obon holiday, the time to remember the ancestors when their spirits are said to come home to visit living family members. There are many rituals and customs surrounding this, people decorate their house altars, make Obon-specific offerings, and outside entrances of people’s homes you can see big paper lanterns hanging to guide the spirits.
Obon is also an holiday for families to meet and many of our neighbors get visits from children and grandchildren who are coming back to see their parents and grandparents for a few days. Since we were in Sweden during Obon last year, this year was the first Obon without my wife’s dad who sadly passed away one and a half year ago, and being able to see my mother-in-law and sharing this time with her has meant a lot to me. I am so grateful that my son, who came to love his grandfather so much in the short time he had to get to know him, has this wonderful opportunity to be reminded of his granddad in a very vivid way.
We have been talking a lot about my son’s granddad, looking a photos, speaking of him. One night when we had dinner together at my mother-in-law’s place, my son found an old cane of his grandfather that he was walking around with all evening. He even brought the cane to the beach when we went with his grandmother on the last day of Obon to say good bye, until next year, to his granddad. The sea was roaring, brown, it felt like autumn. My son was so excited to be there, feel the wind comb his hair, to see the waves roll in. We were almost alone on the beach, and if my boy’s grandfather really was there to see it, I am sure he could not have been happier or more proud.
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