Chapter 1 – Tokyo Stories

When my mom turned 80 this year, she insisted that our family trip should be to Tokyo, Japan.

My mom is a strong woman who took care of my father who suffered from a stroke due to complications of diabetes. When my father got sick, my mom had to find means to make ends meet. Medicines and therapy for my father did not come cheap. When my father passed away 23 years ago, she was devastated.

Our family is not perfect.  We have dysfunctional moments.  The last five years has been most difficult.  My mother began to deteriorate in her ambulation.  I guess we need to be thankful that her mind is functioning well, but you can tell that age has taken a toll on her.  Her agility is now challenged with a quad and a wheelchair.  There were moments she’d look into your eyes through her cataract glazed eyes with questions and hints of sadness over her condition.

She’s irritatingly repetitive and yet beautiful in her own quirky ways. She’s needy to the point of clingy but thoughtful in her own quiet ways. I get to lose my patience only because work supersedes the attention she desires.  There were (and still are) tug-of-war moments between work and her needs. The work-balance relationship (especially with my work in government) is a work in progress.

This trip to Tokyo wasn’t an easy one to arrange.  It’s cold, crowded, and transportation is expensive (no kidding).  I’m sorry (not!) if I blew my top at Philippine Airlines (on Facebook) when they decided to change the aircraft configuration two weeks before our travel! While airlines do what they do for the sake of profit, I’m pretty sure that if it was owned by the government, the airline would have gotten pummelled with all the insults on social media.

Arriving in Tokyo through Haneda Airport was the better choice.  The airport isn’t as crowded as Narita and it’s nearer to Tokyo than arriving through Narita. I arranged for a limousine from the hotel to pick us up. It would be impossible to travel on the train with her and our luggages filled with her pampers, her quads, and her wheelchair in tow in the cold winter!

This trip was all about Inang. As requested.

She had her photo-op with Hachiko.  Her crossing (on a wheelchair) at Shibuya at 9pm.  Her enjoying ramen in a quaint dining area where ramen was ordered through a vendo machine.  She loved the Muji shop in Ginza. Ate with gusto at Shake Shack in Maranouchi. Had snacks at Dominique Ansel in Omotesando.  Bought trinkets and souvenirs in Harajuku.  Enjoyed the cake and tea at Laduree in Shinjuku. Shopped relentlessly at Takashimaya. Watched the flurries from out hotel window on a cloudy Saturday.  And yes, see Mt. Fuji each break of day from her bedroom!

What did this trip teach me?

My mom is now old and frail. Whatever moments we can spend with her while her senses are still intact, will always be the goal.  We watch her move much slower now, as she needs more assistance when moving.  Doze off more often.  Eat much less.  It’s the sad reality of life.

As I write this first blog of the year watching the sunrise and Mt. Fuji from our room in Tokyo, with my mom snoring in the warm bed at 7am, I cannot help but smile and say, thank God for another year.  We made it mom!

This, is my Relative Joy.


P.S. You may want to read about Inang in this link on my other blog.

5 thoughts on “Chapter 1 – Tokyo Stories

  1. Soozy Lazo January 2, 2018 / 1:03 am

    You are so blessed with such a mom and, likewise, so is she with a son that you are. Life is beautiful, imperfections notwithstanding. Happy new year!


  2. Ethel January 3, 2018 / 1:31 pm

    Such a lovely written piece to teach us readers of the value of time with our parents. The best gift will always be our time spent with them .. the way they gave us that when we were younger… may Nanay have the gift of better health for 2018.. Nanay has indeed conquered aging by enjoying time with her family. Happy New Year Dr. Benjie!


  3. Neal Orteza January 4, 2018 / 7:33 am

    How I wish I had extra time to spend with my Mom who passed away a few years ago. She had bad diabetes and in spite of her religious regimen of following Dr Litonjua’s advice, she had to be amputated and that, to my mind, started her slow downfall. I would have shown her Tokyo, like you did to your Mom but this is all hindsight wishful thinking now. When they are gone, they are gone. What you did to your Mom was beautiful. A loving memory of a nice trip to Tokyo will surely would have made a difference. You started the New Year right!


  4. Cherri Cabral-Villanueva January 4, 2018 / 9:37 am

    Beautiful written Benji! Belated Happy New Year to you and your family.
    This brought me thoughts of times spent w/ my mom when she was alive.
    It is difficult for them to grow old and also difficult for us too. But time spent w/ them no matter the ‘tug of wars,’ is to be cherished, never to be repeated.
    I wish you many more special moments and memories w/ your mom!!


  5. Josie Eusebio January 5, 2018 / 6:27 am

    Such a beautiful story! Yes, Benjie I can relate much with your story as my parents are in the same situation now. Thanks for sharing! Happy New Year!


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