(Japanese) Father’s Day

e788b6e381aee697a5

Yesterday was Father’s Day here in Japan. For the most part, it actually went reasonably well.

I had a couple of mercies, for want of a better term, with this Father’s Day stuff. One is the calendar. In Australia, Father’s Day isn’t until September, and thus I’ve never really celebrated this one before. I’ve only vaguely noted it, even, as simply an opportunity to buy a Father’s Day card for the Australian version and observed what sorts of gift boxes were available with idle curiousity (lots of beer, meat and golf). Seeing the celebrations of fathers and fatherly matters has been saddening, but it doesn’t quite have the meaning attached that it might if this were actually the day I had celebrated with Dad.

The other mercy was that I’m kind of sick. It’s a cold exacerbated by tiredness, so it’s nothing to really worry about, but it’s meant that I’ve been functioning by focusing on the basics and not thinking too much.

So, the focus was on R. I took Mr. K out on Saturday and organised gifts (a box of cakes he likes and a new clip to fix his beloved pouch – yes, rather low-key, but that’s how we did Mother’s Day too), I ensured we had a card, and I stressed that R could do what he wanted.

Mostly, that meant sleep… because, alas, R is sick too. Still, we went out to breakfast with one of R’s old coworkers. It wasn’t a Father’s Day thing; it was just something they wanted to do. There’s a family restaurant not far from here that does breakfast buffets and it’s actually pretty great. We all wandered in, and I was quite looking forward to it.

Except there was R’s old friend, the Chimp, and that’s when I was reminded this day isn’t what I would like to be anymore.

The Chimp was there with most of his family. I say most because there was a new, permanent absence. His own father passed away two weeks ago. A heart attack, while he was at a bar somewhere – in other words, the same way as my father, though at least Dad went in his sleep.

So there we were, newly inducted members to a club nobody especially wants to join trying to get through Father’s Day by not thinking about it too hard. Normally when we encounter the Chimp, some ridiculous happening ensues, because the man is strange and hyper (“Is he on something?” I’ve found myself asking R incredulously more than once. “Like, drugs?”). Indeed, I got paraded before the entire family, which was weird and awkward while I was trying to juggle a breakfast tray, but not unexpected – I am the token foreigner amongst R’s circles of friends.

Otherwise, it was all very subdued and he cornered me when I was heading back to our table.

“I heard about your father.”

“Yes. Yours too… it’s very hard.” (Taihen deshita is the go-to saying for Japanese people to say to someone who has just lost someone, I’ve discovered – taihen translating to something like “it’s very tough” and deshita shoving it into the polite past tense)

“Yes.”

And lots of awkward bowing, because even if we didn’t have a language barrier, what else could we even say?  I retreated to our corner table and got to sit in silence aside from juggling Mr. K, not expected to try and join in R and his buddy’s conversation, and gradually got on with my day. That seems to be the theme so far to this grief, really – to gradually get on with things except when something unexpected rears up.