LETTERS TO OPHELIA
Thursday, October 7th 2010
G’day Bewdifullll! Oh, how I miss you! I talked with you on the phone for the first time in October tonight. YES! It’s funny that something so simple, can seem such an achievement.
You seemed happy enough, especially considering a few minutes on a phone to Dad isn’t that enticing.
Actually, it was a little hard for me to concentrate as your Mother has offered for us to enjoy a visit next Monday… GRAND, except it’s again scheduled for another public holiday. My brain was screaming, “WHAT? AGAIN?” By now, she’s well aware I have to work on public holidays, Monday included; actually we have parent-teacher conferences. I’ve told her several times, emailed her, and written her at least two letters regarding the fact that international schools don’t receive public holidays, but just as she did last month, she’s scheduled our meeting on a work day for me. BUMMER! Her reasoning, it seems intentional, but, pull it together Dad, slow down, breathe, focus on forgiveness, otherwise feelings of self-pity and blame will torture your soul… I think some push-ups will fix my mood… you have to keep count!
Besides, it’s your birthday this month, your 8th birthday. I can hardly believe that the same baby with your thick crop of jet-black hair, the same individual I bottle fed all those nights at 3am watching re-runs of Top Gear, is turning eight already!!!
Anyway, the great news is, we get to see each for two consecutive nights, TWO, that’s Friday, October 22nd & 23rd how COOL! Watch this space… we’re going to have a ball! To infinity & beyond… in less than 48 hours! Luv & licks, Dad… XoXo.
- Perhaps only people who are capable of real togetherness have that look of being alone in the universe… the others have a certain stickiness (D. H. Lawrence)
Sunday, October 23rd 2010
Bonjour Bella! I dropped you off in Ikebukuro early this afternoon at 12.30pm. It was lovely to host you for 2 consecutive nights. I picked you up in Tokorozawa on Friday night at 6.45pm and we jumped on the train for Motomachi. By the time we arrived at Motomachi we were both starving, so we went to La Boheme for some pasta & pizza and you had another enormous chocolate milk shake with loads of ice cream.
Back on the bicycle we arrived at #303 for your birthday presents. There were presents from Pat, Nandee & Pa, Rich & Rach, Sean & Cate, and of course a few presents from Dad. You had so many presents, it took you about an hour to open and investigate the contents. How cool for your Dad to be a part of all those smiles!!! Of course the bulk of your presents had something to do with horses, your favorite being these large reusable seals/stickers that you plastered all over the walls. By 10pm Dad was exhausted… it had been a long day… time for three books, some songs, and sleep.
My day began early as I wanted to finish up my reports before the Autumn break began. We have this week off, which is grand because C & I are moving in together!!! But more of that later. Anyway, I went to school before 7 to proof-read my reports and prepare for the day ahead. The Student Council was preparing to lead the school assembly, so I had kids to get ready at lunch time, in addition my grade 4 class were putting on a play for the assembly, titled The Forest Singer. David & I had taught them 2 songs and 2 dances, written the script, auditioned the kids for parts, and of course been practicing for weeks. The play went off with a bang, the kids were terrific and the parents loved it too… oh, and the Student Council ran the assembly very smoothly, so a very successful & productive morning & afternoon.
Then immediately after school I set a Hash course for the x-country team to follow. A Hash course is based on a fox (me) being chased by a group of hunting hounds/dogs (my students). I set off at 3.35pm with my chalk to draw arrows for the hounds to follow, only some of the arrows were pointing the wrong way, so through trial & error the students follow the arrows to the goal. Anyway I arrived back at school at 4.15, all hot and sweaty, quickly changed and raced down to Motomachi Station on my way to Tokorozawa… to be continued…
I love you Bella. Thank you for being a part of my life… XoXo…
- If you could do it all over again, would you change anything?
Tuesday, October 26th 2010
Oh, what a busy day! C and her mother drove from Chiba today to move in some of her belongings. So I took the opportunity to move 4 carloads of boxes and things from #303 to our new apartment #801. It’s near Saty, the park and the new shopping complex in Honmoku.
Back to the weekend we spent consecutive nights together. What, you thought I had forgotten to finish recording our story? No way Bella, here goes:
Saturday morning we had a play with your birthday presents, Skyped with Pat, and Richie and the gang, and then you finished up your kanji studies. Apparently you have a kanji test Monday, so you have to get back early to study… you poor thing… you’ve only just turned 8 and you’re already spending your Sunday afternoon studying.
We boarded the bus for Yokohama, and a train bound for Numazu. At Mishima Station we had lunch, then jumped in a taxi for Geoff & Fei’s place. Sophie was having a unicycle lesson so we walked to the bunka centre and met up with Helen & Sophie. You and Helen ran amok, and then you had a go at the unicycle. You actually kept at it for a good 20 minutes; I was very impressed by your perseverance.
Back at Fei & Geoff’s, the game of Fi-Fai-Fo-Fum that was so popular at Christmas, was quickly requested by you gals. Unfortunately the giant (me) lost his voice after about 40 minutes of scaring you screaming gals, so I retreated to the bbq to enjoy a quiet glass of wine with Geoff. We all ate dinner together, then Fei had prepared a birthday cake for our new 8 year old. Candles and a song, followed by a few more games of giants scaring mademoiselles, and then finally, it was bedtime. The plan was that you were to sleep in Helen & Sophie’s room, but you decided to bunk down with Dad on his futon downstairs. You snuggled into me and I felt like the luckiest man on the planet… albeit for a weekend.
Just as well you had slept downstairs, because in the morning we discovered that Sophie had vomited through the night. By morning though, she was genki and we all enjoyed breakfast together. After breaky, there was enough time for a quick play in the park before Geoff and the gang drove us to Mishima to catch the 10.48am shinkansen for Tokyo. We just caught it and quite quickly sleepy head Phi leaned into me, laying your head across my lap and dozed. It’s moments like these that make parenting the greatest experience there is. Such episodes bring me hope and so much joy… thank you Phi… I love you.
- Do you remember any of the times you were sick with me? As morbid as it sounds, I often recall the closeness I felt as you snuggled in closer and closer to me after one of your vomiting bouts…
Sunday, November 14th 2010
Bonjour Bella! I’m home with my C… she’s cooking karage, miso soup, toka… smells great! Fancy a bite to eat with the two of us? There’s candles, and I’ll put on some of your favourite music.
BTW, I met you today in Tokorozawa for two hours. You seemed even taller than 3 weeks ago; if that’s possible. From the station we strolled to Koku Koen and on the way we chatted about school (your school & mine), and munched on peanut butter sandwiches that I had made in the morning. You were very surprised to see my new hairstyle. On Friday, the Student Council took great pleasure in shaving my long locks. They had achieved their target of collecting over 600kg of rice for the annual Rice Drive. The money & rice we raised was donated to a local charity that caters for the poor and homeless.
Anyway, we had a short but lovely time at the park, played a quick 15 minutes of badminton, and generally bonded as dad & daughter. You’re getting better at sport! Today on two occasions we had a rally of 9-10 hits with the badminton set. Before we knew it, it was time to meet Jiji at Koku Koen Station. He was nice to me again, and was in a jovial mood as he’d recently hit a hole in one.
Looking forward to seeing you next weekend for our sleepover. I told you that we’d visit the amusement park by Sakuragicho Station, and you said you’d like to try the adult rollercoaster… we’ll see brave soldier.
Can’t wait! Luv Dad, love always! XoXo…
- True educational travel provides a means for the elimination of stereotyped ideas and leads to the creation of understanding and tolerance (Unknown)
Sunday, November 21st 2010
Ophi Chan, Nandee & Pa send all their love. They Skyped many times this weekend hoping to see your beautiful face, alas your mother canceled again. She said you have a cold.
I’m really down… so down, I’m not sure I can even joke about it this time.
We all miss you very much. Uncle Richie, Allie & Chris Skyped to see how you are and to check out Uncle Ged’s crazy hairstyle. That reminds me, copy and paste this link and you’ll see your Dad doing a dance with all the other crazy teacher baldies. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_mK5ibYwAo
Anyway gorgeous, chin up, stay strong and smile, smile, smile! We can do this. Just keep hoping!
Love & licks, Dad… XoXo…
- Just do it, because life isn’t a dress a rehearsal
- Live simply so that others may simply live
Sunday, November 28th 2010
Morning Bella! A little cooler this morning, so Dad broke out Uncle Toby’s Oats for the first time this season. You used to love your porridge, especially the smooth version Pa & Nandee would serve you up in Melbourne. I’m always keen to add some dried fruit and a banana, so Dad’s version is always lumpy & bumpy, but plenty delicious, especially with a little honey.
I wonder if you’re cycling yet… I was just thinking how much fun we had cycling around Numazu. We’d cycle to the supermarket, to and from school, to Pat’s, to Grace’s, and when the Hamer family were in town we’d cycle down the beach occasionally (although usually we drove as it was just a bit far). One day, however, when Ralph was in town, we jumped on the bicycles singing all the way, rode down past the Hamer family and had a hearty lunch of sushi at one of your Mum’s and my favourite restaurants.
Other times we cycled down to the river, especially when there was a festival. You used to love the huge carp (fish) flags blowing in the wind. We’d fly past on the bicycle and you’d gently reach out and let each flag pass through your fingers. Then we’d jump off the bicycle and race around. I have some great video of you dancing and singing alongside the river, racing to and from each flag. Someday we’ll watch it again together.
Enjoy your cycling… it’s time Dad went for a run.
- Let others take you as you are, or not at all. Speak your truth even if your voice shakes.
Sunday, December 5th 2010
Bonjour Cher Ophelia… This morning as I sipped my coffee, I began thinking of you and your friends during kindergarten. Again it occurred to me that I don’t know any of your new friends from school. I sincerely miss being a part of your life, meeting your friends, their parents, and your teachers. I recalled the very serious Masako from K1 & K2 at Katoh, the cheeky Minami from Ooka kinder (when you were still yet 2 years of age you met her), and my favorite, the chubby and delightful Sakura who became your best buddy towards the end of K2 & K3 at Katoh.
Minami was the first friend of yours besides family friends (like Grace, Nicola, Astrid, Mae etc., who all used to come for a play often) to come to play. I remember we invited Minami for a play after we returned from Hokkaido. I was under the impression her parents would just come in for a moment, make sure Minami was settled and then head off and do their own thing. Instead they stayed for about 6 hours, ate lunch with us; at several stages during the late afternoon I thought I was cooking them dinner too. You and Minami had a great time, in fact we hardly saw you both as you spent much of your time in your bedroom or outside in your cubby house.
Masako came a few times. She was very serious and could be quite bossy with you, but you seemed to get along just fine. We made cubby houses inside one day (with the bed sheets) as outside it was raining. Depending on the day, you came home from kinder very, very happy, or on other days you were upset because Masako wouldn’t let you play with her and her other friends. It stressed me to see you pained so much, so we talked a lot about true friends in the hope that you’d find another soul mate. We had some good times though. One particular day I took you and Masako up a nearby mountain. At the time you were both into Totoro, and on our previous trip up the mountain, you and I had convinced each other we’d seen Totoro down by the green thick scrub and pathways near the creek. Masako was very keen to seek out Totoro, especially as an adult had so passionately painted the story of Totoro’s whereabouts.
But my favorite was Sakura. She was oh so friendly and laughed and smiled constantly. Her joy was infectious and the two of you never seemed to have any problems. The other thing I liked about Sakura was that her parents also invited you to their apartment as many times as we invited Sakura. Actually, when I think about it, Masako’s parents did have you over a few times and we even visited them in Yokohama when they moved there (that was before Dad’s move too).
Your last play with Sakura before Dad moved to Yokohama was during the school holidays, July 2008. It was hot and humid so we climbed aboard the big orange car and headed up into the mountains to a park we had frequented several times. Beside the main stream (which was freezing), was a manmade creek perfect for paddling around in. Some of my favorite photos and a few videos were taken that day. We were all so happy and hungry after our splashing that Dad’s bento went down a treat. When Sakura’s mum arrived to pick her up, she didn’t want to go home, and we promised each other that it wouldn’t be your last play date together. I’m not sure when we got together again, but later that year I can still see us in my mind’s eye standing in the elevator waving our goodbyes as Sakura jumped up and down trying for a last glimpse of you… and I think my friend, that may well have been our last play with Sakura.
I certainly hope some day, you & Sakura find each other again… love Dad…XoXo…
- If you have one true friend… you have more than your share (Thomas Fuller)
Sunday, December 12th 2010
Morning sunshine! I wonder how you’re doing this bright & sunny morning… do you remember the song we once sang every morning???
Good morning to the sun
Good morning to the sky
Good morning to the flowers and the grass
Good morning to the trees
Good morning to the mountains
Good morning to Ophi and Daddy
I wonder how you wake in the morning… does somebody sing to you, tear the bed covers from you and tickle you, lift you high and embrace you, a quick wizzy-dizz and then a flight through the air to land in your comfy beanbag… do they???
I’m preparing for my final week of school, reports and Christmas activities & assemblies to organize. It’s going to be a busy week, but lots of fun too. Our theme at the moment is Chocolate, so on Thursday we’ve invited the chefs from Cesar’s Kitchen (that’s the school cafeteria) to judge each of the students’ original handmade chocolates… it was their homework task this week.
Next Monday C and I are heading to Beijing for one night and then onward to Melbourne. It’ll be C’s first trip to Australia, and her first time meeting our family… wish us luck! I haven’t introduced you to C as yet, because I feel it’s better to wait until you’re a little older; old enough to make up your own mind about a person…
See you next weekend! Love Dad… XoXo…
- A secret is too little for one, enough for two, too much for three
- I wish we could have a play with your many boxes of Sylvanian Families… they’re so much fun, and it seems such a waste for them to be closeted for so very long…
Sunday, December 19th
My beautiful, beautiful princess… I miss you so much! Tomorrow C & I fly to Beijing then onwards to Melbourne for Christmas. The last time I was home for Christmas, I also went with a beautiful lass beside me… YOU! You were 4 I think, so I guess it’s been 4 years since I’ve celebrated Christmas with my family… your family.
We were supposed to be together this weekend. According to the agreement in the Family Court, we’re entitled to 5 days together each Winter Vacation, but because I am flying to Melbourne, I was happy to settle for 2 nights. You were supposed to be here last night and Friday night. I was planning a busy 42 hours together… we would have skated upon the open air ice rink at Aka Rengakan Friday night, then home to open a few Christmas presents under the Christmas tree, with Xmas music playing. Saturday I thought we would take a bus to Disneyland, play all day and watch the Christmas parade… but instead I’m sitting here wondering why I missed your innocent, loving, gentle face again… none of it’s your fault… evidently you’re sick… I hope you’re not, and that you’re running around in the park squealing in delight with your friends.
I miss you Bella, more than you’ll ever know… XoXo…
- Dad has a box of things he cannot throw away, do you? “The reason I cannot throw them away is simple. Some day a friend may call and say, “Do you happen to have any dried up felt markers? I can’t seem to find any in the stores. And do you also happen to have a 4cm pencil with the eraser chewed off? It’s my favourite kind.” (Bill Cosby)
Saturday, December 25th 2010…
Merry Christmas Princess! It’s 11am and C and I have just finished wrapping our presents. It won’t be long before Billie & Luca, Allie & Christo come crashing through the front door at Croydon. How I wish you were here… the eldest of the cousins, and still after 3 and a half years of separation held warmly in the hearts of Luca & Allie. Billie was just a bit too young to have forged a bond with you, and of course Christo is even younger, but Allie & Luca sometimes ask about you. It’s a joy to see them all racing around the backyard, jumping on the trampoline. It’s funny, because evidently Luca won’t play with girls at school, but as long ago as your last trip in August 2007 he told Cate & Sean that Ophelia doesn’t count as a girl, because she’s a cousin. He’s held strongly to that belief because apparently he still doesn’t play with gals, but it’s evident he and Allie enjoy a beautiful friendship… cousins… family… I can’t help but ponder the bond you 3 older cousins would definitely have. It’s a shame you’re unable to cement that friendship at this age, but I know in the years to come, you and your cousins will find time for each other.
Anyway gorgeous, just a short note to let you know I’m thinking of you. Have a great day!
Merry Christmas, love Dad. XoXo…
Wednesday, December 29th 2010
G’day buddy, just leaving Melbourne. Mum’s cousin, Maur Ford who actually gave me the idea of writing this journal to you, sent me the following Xmas message… I think it’s beautiful and wish I could live my life in harmony with the GOOD wolf:
My Christmas present to you Darlin Ged… Maur (Not Aunty)
One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.
He said, ‘ My son, the battle is between two ‘ wolves ‘ inside us all. One is Evil. – It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is Good. – It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith. ‘ The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: ‘ Which wolf wins? ‘ The old Cherokee simply replied, ‘ The one you feed.
Not bad hey! Carpe deum!
On our way to Oz we spent 36 hours in Beijing arriving on the 23rd… had a funny morn’ when we woke; across from our 5 star hotel (cost us less than 100 smackaroos, that’s $!) from the 25th floor, we watched the ice skaters skate the icy river, then upon closer examination 3 gents were having a swim in the same river! Crazy hey! The food was great, cheap & tasty, but quite oily so I’m not sure how long I could stomach it. The place was windless, natureless and very, very smoggy, so there’s no way I could jog there, so I’ve crossed it off the list of possible places to teach…
Australia was great, with C giving it a go, but she tired of English… she enjoyed Melbourne and actually said she could live there if everyone spoke Japanese! The weather was unusually cool, as you know it can be, so C’s lovely summer skirts never saw the light of day, in fact we went camping (Cathedral – where else!?) overnight with Dee & Kerry, both Rich & Sean and their families and everyone had their beanies & coats on… evidently we had a low of 6 degrees… and yet 2 days after we left they had a blistering 41 degrees! Melbourne, I wonder when we’ll both be back there…
Anyway Bella, time to board… xoxo…
- Some of my best friends are children. In fact, all of my best friends are children (J. D. Salinger)