Now it was time to meet Sera Sasaki at Kiri-Kiri Elementary School. She came with her mom and her sister. They were all so nice and it was wonderful to finally meet Sera. She has done so much for us. I really liked all of them. Sera’s mom cried.
Sera and I presented the poems that Fort Bragg 5th graders had written. I read one of them, by Kate from Mr. K’s class and Sera translated it. It was beautiful. The kids were so cute. After we finished I introduced myself to all of them and shook their hands.
After we were done, the three of us were standing outside of the school and I told Sera and her family that I hoped they would come to Fort Bragg. I said that they couldn’t stay the whole time with Angela, that I wanted them to stay in my home too. Sera’s mom laughed and said, “I would invite you to stay at my home, but it’s destroyed!”
Now, I had to go with the news crew again. We drove back out to Kanezawa so that they could get some shots of the beautiful rice paddies there. It’s a gorgeous valley, mountains reflected in the rice fields. I walked around and took some pictures. It was nice to enjoy some quiet and peaceful scenery.
Time to go to Satoko’s house. On the way, we stopped down at the harbor. They wanted pictures of the island. I told them about the shrine and the lighthouse that used to be there. You can actually see how the land slopes down into the water and it is flooded where it wasn’t before.
Satoko’s house is completely untouched! The tsunami came right up to the edge of their neighborhood. The only damage they had were 3 broken cups. On the deck were some poppies blooming in a pot. They were from the seeds that I’d given to Machiko in October.
The crew came in and talked with the family without filming for a while. They really like the Kariya family and are very interested in Satoko’s dad, as the captain of the Hamayuri. They did film for a little while then left Fuki and Masa with me which was nice because Masa translated.
The entire family is lucky to be alive. It’s only by chance circumstances in every case that they survived. Satoko’s mom had been in Kamaishi working on March 11th. After the quake, she was stuck there for 2 days, then she was able to get as far as Tono by car but from there had to crawl and climb through the rubble to get home. It was wet and slippery, very frightening for her. What is normally a 30-minute drive took her 4 hours.
Satoko’s dad was on the Hamayuri when the earthquake hit. The boat is normally docked in Kamaishi, but it was in Otsuchi for maintenance that day. If it had been in Kamaishi, he would have been killed.
Satoko was at home because it was a half day. If not, she would have been walking home from school at that time. Her grandma and grandpa were also at home. Satoko saw people walking and standing on the sea wall after the first tsunami. They wanted to watch. When the second tsunami came, she watched the wall of water wash them away. I cannot imagine the effect this has had and will continue to have on her.
Her grandpa became ill from the shock of the tsunami and they were unable to find a hospital or doctor to treat him. He died 3 days later.Nana, Etuko and Ami came over later. It was amazing to see all of them and I had a wonderful time. Machiko made us cup of noodles from the food bank. She laughed saying how awful they were but we all enjoyed it. I’d given her a dish towel when I was there in October and she’d put it under the glass top of their living room table. I was touched.
Nana and Satoko want to learn English and find jobs that will take them to America. They also wish they could go to high school here.
When I left I hugged both the girls and Nana said, “my mom”. I love these girls so much. On the way home, Masa said that he could see how much we love each other, like family. He was actually choked up.
I don’t want to leave tomorrow.