Wednesday January 21, 1998

I had intended to stop this narrative on the previous page, but on the last leg of the way home several curious incidents occurred which let me know the magic trip was continuing.

Yamamoto-san had kindly agreed to take time from his busy business day to help us with all our luggage to the airport. Being a traveler with many miles, he took us directly to the airport shuttle bus terminal in the city. Here we could take care of the immigration checks and check-in our luggage before the hour-long ride to Narita.

That morning, in the hotel, when I packed, I simply could not stuff Mickey Mouse into the dark confines of a suitcase. With Aoyagi-san's voice, Mickey seemed so alive. So I let him ride sticking out the top of my carry-on so his head and arms were free.

When the bags went through the security check, a very young girl was standing by the conveyer belt. When she saw Mickey Mouse, she began to exclaim, "Mickey, Mickey." Impulsively, I touched the buttons that made him "speak" and she instantly recognized the voice.

"Where did you get this?" She asked jumping up and down like a child with excitement.

"From the man who does the Mickey voice."

"Well," she said, suddenly becoming very serious, "how do you know him?"

We were waved to get out of the way of other passengers before I could answer her. But after the other bags were checked, she was standing by the tiny exit gate which she held shut and said, "Oh, let me touch another button." Each message brought her a new paroxysm of squealing. I suddenly knew who it was truly important to know in Tokyo!

In the plane we had our seats in different sections. In the relaxation which was served with the peanuts and drink, the older gentleman to my left politely asked why I had been in Japan, and I explained it briefly. He, in his European attitudes, was not impressed. Then he asked where I lived in the states. As I began to explain the general area, he interrupted with, "My great-grandfather was Nils Iversen."

"My house is on the plot of ground where his house stood." I floored him by answering. He had spent many of his childhood summers up in our area but had not been here for 20 years. We wore ourselves out catching him up on all the news and changes. We barely had time to nap before the plane had passed over the eight hours of miles.

It was strange to realize that here in San Francisco it was still Wednesday, in the early morning, when we had left Tokyo on Wednesday afternoon. Even the weather was similar. The big puddles from ten days of rain could have been from melting snowdrifts.

We had a dry drive home and everything was in perfect order, except for the piles of gifts our house sitter, Leavenworth Jackson, had left on the desks. The cat acted as if he just might forgive us for going away so long. Maybe in a day or two if we were nice.

But the last and final surprise for me was still to come. Several times before leaving home and during the trip; especially during the visit to the Palace and while receiving the Emperor's cup, I had regretted that my parents were already dead - that I could not share these great moments with them.

As I was poking into the farthest corners of one of the suitcase pockets to find the last of the trinkets I had packed, I came up with a tiny key chain with two small suitcase keys on it. Where did this come from? I wondered. This was not mine! I had bought nothing like this. As I looked at the small silver disk attached to the chain I saw that it had three initials on it. JHS. John Howard Styer. My father! So Dad, and surely Mom, too, had gone with me. How good it was to have such proof of their being with me all the way.

home again
I take up my father's pen
for calligraphy
had he too come with us
for a return to Japan?

Copyright © Jane Reichhold 1998.