Even when we were still living in Japan and a trip to the hubs’ hometown only takes about 3 hours by car, we didn’t visit his folks frequently. I think there were plenty of reasons – the weather, the lack of things to do at his quiet hometown, the fact that I am extremely allergic to Japanese incense sticks that is constantly lighted there, or the fact that my mother in-law’s depression spirals down and my father in-law discourages us from going.
In short, Pristine isn’t so connected with that house and with the folks living there. She talks to her paternal grandparents on the phone but rarely meet them. But during our recent vacation, I can clearly see the invisible bond between them that’s so strong despite the physical distance that we have.
Here they are on the day we arrived. Pristine immediately warmed up to him. He excitedly ordered food to welcome us. Instantly, I forgot how to spell the word “DIET” when I saw this. To think there were only three adults (me, my husband, my FIL and Pristine) in the house.
He adores her much, much more than how he did to his own two sons! According to their neighbors and relatives whom I have spoken to, my FIL only cared for his work and rarely spent time with his children. My husband agrees – bitterly, he told me he doesn’t have happy memories with him while growing up. Typical Japanese fathers.
But now, it’s different. He is more relaxed and told me secretly when my husband wasn’t around,
if I only knew how there’s so much happiness while playing with a child, I could have done better to my own, years ago.
I was touched. He had missed so much of his sons’ childhood. He wasn’t there.
My husband and his brother aren’t that close to him. They see him as the provider, not father figure. He wasn’t home on their birthdays, got drunk in traditional neighborhood parties during New Years and was just a mere shadow who would shuttle from home to work, home to work, day in and day out.
Besides working for a company during weekdays, he maintains a rice farm. He has 12 plots whom he tends to alone, using his “hi-tech toys” that he always speak of proudly to me – because he says, I’m the only one who listens. But of course, that’s because we rarely see each other. He is known to talk about his hi-tech toys over and over to whoever is available.
My FIL lives alone now. His wife (my MIL) is in the hospital for the past month, battling depression. A battle she has fought for more than 10 years now (long story). I feel so sorry for her. I feel sorry that she wasn’t able to bond with her only granddaughter.
It was time to say goodbye. Pristine and his grandfather bade goodbye to each other. He promised to come visit us in Dubai – hearing that from someone who doesn’t want to get out of his comfort zone and hates travelling, that was really something.