2011 July – September

Thursday, July 7th 2011

Paris… Phi, we’re here, I can clearly see why C is so intoxicated with “La Ville-Lumière,” The City of Light or The Illuminated City!IMG_1516

It is a dramatic city, a historic city, and a romantic city that embodies dreams, where I imagine from the very first moment you sip its vin, and sample its fromage, you too, will embark on a glorious and joyous adventure. The subtle watercolour gentleness of sophisticated Paris is a stark contrast to the merciless humidity and order of Japan we left behind.

C’s curiosity, respect, interest & love for La Ville-Lumière is always evident. Her enthusiasm and affinity for French flare, cuisine, fashion & culture has quite besotted me too; besides she’s an awesome tour guide.

Phi, I hope my enthusiasm for life & travel warms you, and gives you new hope. One of the keys to our future together is the many adventures I hope we one day share together…

Yes, Dad & C are in Paris! C is my link with a different world, after all she lived here for 5 years. At times Paris feels inexplicably familiar, because I guess of the stories you paint in my mind. With her I see hope for positive, real change, and a new life. It’s 9.30am and C is off at the university studying French, so Dad thought he’d write to you.

RIMG0045

Tim & Ged

I’m lucky to be here actually, as last Friday night on our way to Haneda Airport, Dad left his shoulder bag containing passport, camera, i-pod, etc., on the train! BAKA ne! The crazy thing is I was so exhausted, I didn’t even notice until 4am the next morning.

We had an early flight, 6.20am Saturday morning, so we wisely decided to stay at a hotel near the airport. Anyway, your panicked Dad and cool C managed to get to the airport and trace the missing bag. It was found and stored back in Shinagawa! Isn’t it amazing how honest the Japanese people are?! Fortunately, our flight was delayed until 7.10am, so I jumped on a train bound for Shinagawa, & red-faced collected my bag and with a 5 minute turn around managed to board an express train bound for Haneda, meet the patient & smiling C… and last but not least, catch our flight! Ahhhhh… relief!

So, we arrived late Saturday afternoon and found the messy & dirty apartment we’ve rented for the month. It’s between Lumiere & Crimee Metro Stations and is quite spacious and breezy. We went for a walk, bought a few necessities, such as glorious cheese and tantalizing wine and made ourselves a light dinner enjoyed upon the balcony. That evening we slept surprisingly well.

Sunday, Dad jogged to Parc des Buttes-Chaumont at about 6am and managed 150 pushups. The city was not yet awake, except for a few fellow joggers. The sun was poking its head over the horizon and basking Paris in crispy clean divine sunlight. The view from the monument was breath taking. I so wished C had come with me, but she’s not one for jogging. There were also cool playgrounds that you and I could frolic through, and of course they were empty at 6am.

Breakfast and a bit of sorting suitcases… by mid morning we were ready to tackle the local fruit and vegetable market, fresh flowers, fromage, meats and all sorts; quite the atmosphere. Returned for a lovely chicken salad & assorted cheeses from the morning’s market for lunch, bit of a nap and then a stroll to a Vietnamese restaurant via the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont.

Monday, after my early morning jog along the canal to Place de la Republique, 36 chin ups & then accompanied C to Sorbonne University. By midday C was finished with enrollments, and as we were feeling peckish we bought a whopping bagette and ate in a tiny park that doubled as the centre of a round-about. We marveled at the many cafes that surrounded us, and just couldn’t resist a coffee, somewhat expensive however at 5 Euros! Then we strolled the streets around the university, taking in the Pantheon and an assortment of shoe shops. From Sorbonne we headed into the Opera quarter for a spot of window shopping.

Tuesday 40 minute jog & 40 chin ups, then coffee and breaky with C. Did the washing and made sandwiches for our picnic lunch. Took the train to Luxembourg Station and met C at Sorbonne at 11am. Accompanied her to her phonics class, and then C bought an exquisite pair of shoes… ready for the opera. Picnic in the park, visit to Notre Dame and then onwards to the island along the Seine for an ice cream. C bought a gorgeous silk dress on sale and then we ventured to a big shopping centre in search of a pair of aero bars for Dad’s bike back in Yokohama… no luck.

In the evening ironed a shirt, and C looked the most beautiful mademoiselle in Paris in her new dress. We took the subway to Villiers Station to dine at the French restaurant that C used to work at. Devine! I had the escargot for entrée, C warm vegetables beautifully presented. My main was assorted seafood, while mademoiselle bella had the softest, most succulent beef. Dessert was French toast and chocola, followed by espresso.

Wednesday a quiet day, jogged for 80 minutes but got lost near the Park de la Villier, finished with 150 pushups. Prepared lunch for C, nap and then we went shopping for dinner. C’s friends, JB & G joined us for a late, late dinner. C cooked Japanese style salmon that I placed over a vegetarian risotto.

… Thursday, July 7th… 11pm…

Another day in glorious Paris… I met C on the steps of the Opera with a bit of lunch. We took to the department stores where Dad bought himself a chic European style shirt and a very dapper leather shoulder bag. We also purchased some gorgeous dessert bowls, everything on special at around 50% off! My personal guide, C took me to the roof of a department store for sensational views of France’s capital… I’m loving this city!

Wish you were here too… LOVE Dad.

FAST FACTS

  • According to the mayor of Paris, 20,000 tons of doggy doo is left on the streets each year
  • Again according to the above dignitary, it costs Paris 9000 Euro each year to clean up

 

Sunday, July 10th 2011

Cher Ophelia,

Here I am on the fourth floor balcony of our apartment in Paris. I’m sipping shirah (red wine), and sampling calvados camembert & goat’s cheese… viola magnificent! Last night we returned from Bernay, Normandy, a small village some 90 minutes from Paris aboard the express train.

After 150 push ups and 45 chin ups Friday morning, I met C at 12.30pm on the steps of the Opera. By 3pm we were in Bernay, and on our way with JB & G to their 9th century church to stay the night. Yes, that’s right, more than 1000 years old! Upon arrival JP gave us the tour of the church and house (just as ancient perhaps beside the church).

The property is incredible because it was purchased for probably less than 100,000 Euros, and yet the ambience and history surrounding the architecture is priceless. When JP purchased the property last year, the church was being used to shelter the cows during the cold winter. In one room above the hearth of the fireplace is the graffiti of some squatters from 1931, around the time of the Great Depression. Their cursive script was exquisite and added to the semblance of yesteryear. I’m sure my mouth was wide open as my mind conjured images of those that had passed through JP’s property in years gone by.

C and I took a stroll around the farms that surrounded us, and at one stage found ourselves trotting back because rain threatened to drown us. Indeed, it seems Normandy is notorious for its constant bouts of rain and sunshine, just as Melbourne is. We were joined by G’s sister’s family, but before dinner we did some practical renovating to the front door to prevent the breeze from flowing through its many cracks. Dinner was typically late, and accompanied by local cidre and of course fromage.

By 11pm C & I were ready to bunk down upstairs on our camp mattress and blue plastic sheet. No toilet, but our hosts had very kindly provided us with a bucket just in case… just as royalty did yesteryear… very curiously when moi went to the bucket in the morning mademoiselle C had indulged the services of the le bucket twice during the evening!RIMG0033

Between breakfast and lunch we restored another door, again in a very practical sense. Once again, I was keen to use some dated wood, in an effort to match the period, but JP was keener on a practical solution combining bright & smooth 2011 timber with the weathered archaic timber, no matter the stark contrast. He was all smiles as usual, the complete host.

At 2pm it was time to say our goodbyes to our delightful hosts and head back to the village of Bernay. We strolled though the quant and welcoming village, before settling down to coffee and crepes in a café. By 5pm we were bound for Paris, and home to our apartment by 7pm. We relaxed for a bit before heading into the Indian quarter for a curry to cap off our day.

Sunday was a rather lazy day with Dad rising at 10am, then off to the local fruit & vegetable market. Delightful lunch of fresh cheese, bagette and cheese cake to follow. Very lazy Sunday as we watched le Tour de France.

At about 6pm we took a walk to the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, found a charming café and ordered coffee, then a glass of vin before a circuit of the park and back to Dad’s sausage hot pot.

Love you Phi… and see you in Paris someday soon… Dad… XoXo.

FAST FACTS

  • There’s been an official dog cemetery for pet lovers in Paris since 1899!

 

Monday, July 11th 2011

Hey Bella… Come with me to Paris… Awoke at 7am, breakfast with C before she shuttled off to her French course. 40 minute jog along the canal, 50 chin ups & 100 push ups. Met C at Vavin for lunch in a café, then headed for the outlet/stock stores of Paris by Alesia Station. Bought a chic John Sutton shirt for 45 Euro, then we took the metro to the Opera area, visited a church, salivated over a chocola éclair from Madame Chocola. By 5pm it was time to try our luck at tickets for the ballet. Despite the sign that clearly stated tonight’s performance SOLD OUT, we managed 2 seats for Les Enfants du Paradis, Children of Paradise.

That evening C once again looked the most beautiful woman in La Ville-Lumière. Her dress was from Tokyo, her shoes just days old. Upon the grand staircase of le Opera she looked a picture. What a magic night! So wish you too could have joined us… let’s buy you a new frock!

Tuesday, 40 minute jog in the rain. Made pancakes for lunch before we took the metro to Anvers Station. Walked around the cobble stoned streets of Montmartre, up to Sacre Couer Basilica, consecrated in 1919. We passed through the basilica accompanied by thousands of tourists like us. Thereafter we strolled the cute streets until we fell upon a wine bar full of character. We ordered a glass of vin each, le petit plate of 5 different cheese (huge), some thinly sliced salami and settled down to another glass of wine and watched the goings on… ahhhh, Paris! Had a quick look at Moulin Rouge, then headed back to the apartment for a bowl of salad.

Wednesday, 40 minute jog to Sacre Couer, 20 push ups then met C after her class and enjoyed an excellent lunch at a popular and chic French restaurant. 25 euros for 2 courses.

Thursday, 50 chin ups and a 40 minute jog, then dad was in for a treat because we went to the Musee du Louvre… absolutely amazing! Enough said. Later we met Tim (a colleague of mine from Saint Maur back in Yokohama) & Elona for drinks in the Bastille area.

Friday, 200 push ups and a 40 minute jog, met Timothy and Elona at the Pere-Lachaise Cemetery where the likes of La Fontaine (Aesop’s Fables), Jim Morrison & Edith Piaf are buried. Had a coffee in a nearby café, and watched on in shock as a passerby tried to steal a woman’s i-phone at the table next to ours. Gotta be careful Phi!

Saturday, we took the Metro the Jewish Quarter, but being the Sabbath most of the shops in the area were closed, so we took a look at Musee Carnavelet, a small but free museum. Met Timothy & Elona in a café for a late lunch around 3pm, then we went off into the on again, off again rain before attempting to meet Tim & Elona later for savory crepes, but they became hopelessly lost and only found us an hour or so later, by which stage they were drowned and had had quite enough.

Sunday, lazy morning with a short trip to the patisserie for croissants and pan au chocola. Later we took to the metro and jumped off at Ranelagh and skipped down to the Seine. We crossed at Pont de Grenelle where Statue de la Liberte stands, and after thought by the Americans, and much less grand than the original the French gave them. C led us along Allee des Cygnes, a manmade island of sorts with the Seine on both sides and splendid views of Tour de Eiffel.

Through the touristy Trocadero district we passed, onwards via Place Victor Hugo on our way to the Arc de Triomphe. We turned right and headed down Avenue des Champs Elysees… a long, long walk, so we rewarded ourselves with some gorgeous soft camembert, a bagette, some pate and the mandatory rouge vin… Mmm!

Oh Phi, you’re gonna love this city… even more than peanut butter straight out of the jar! Loads & loads of love… Dad… XoXo…

WICKED QOUTES

“When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You know that your name is safe in their mouth.” – Jess C. Scott

 

Monday, July 18th 2011

Now Phi, keeping fit? Dad did 50 chin ups this morn’ accompanied by a 35 minute jog. Then I met C at Saint Paul Church & we walked to the Jewish Quarter, Marais for an early lunch of a vegetarian falafel. Absolutely delicious, second only to the exquisite escargot. Have you tried snails? What about we try them together? Through Marais we wandered stopping at a popular boulangerie for a slice of Jewish cheesecake. Onwards we meandered stopping in book shops, shoe shops and anything that took our fancy.

After midday we took the metro to around Port de Montreuil to browse a very cheap Monday market. Nothing very special except C made me change my wallet to the front pocket and remove my sunglasses for she feared the honesty of the local lads.

From the market we walked towards the Cimetiere du Pere Lachaise that houses the spirits of Proust, Oscar Wilde and the sort. We stopped by real estate agents to gaze at the properties and dream of an apartment in Paris we could let to rich Japanese mademoiselles.

We lounged in a café, moi with my café cream, mademoiselle O with her daily espresso. On our way home we stopped of at Crimee to have a look at the cheap ladies wear.

Relaxed with Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, and another coffee to contemplate pasta with salmon, cheese & cream.

Tuesday was a miserable day weather wise, a top of only 17 degrees and wet and windy. Jogged in the rain and managed 30 chin ups before I slipped off the bar and gave up. We had an early lunch of pancakes then we took the metro to the D’orsay Museum, an old train station renovated into a striking museum. They have an amazing collection of Monet, Manet, Renoir, Sisley, Ingres, Van Gogh et al. Around 5.30pm we wandered along the Seine in the rain and across to the Chatelet area where C bought a jacket at Zara.

On our way home we dropped off at Belleville Station and walked to a cous cous restaurant. Not too bad as we were hungry and their focus was on good food and quantity, rather than presentation and quality.

Wednesday 20th, met C after her French class at 11am at Belleville Station & wandered through Paris’s second China Town. Bought some supplies for this evening as we’re hosting C’s French sisters. Years ago she tutored them Japanese as their mother is Japanese/Korean, but sadly she died.

Enjoyed Vietnamese noodles for lunch before walking back to the apartment for a coffee and a bit of le Tour de France. Cadel Evans the Australian is now second closing the gap on the French leader to 1 minute 45 seconds yesterday.

Thursday… sorry, can’t recall Phi…

Friday 22nd went for a run and then we met up with Nathalie & her sister Stephanie for an aperitif in the Saint Germain area, then we enjoyed an amazing set lunch for only 15 euros!

Bisous… XoXo…

FAST FACTS

  • My favourite book is probably The Godfather; I would love to read Kensuke’s Kingdom, Ways to Live Forever & Charlie & the Chocolate Factory to you
  • I’m 190 cm tall. That’s pretty tall in Japan, but nowhere near as tall as the tallest dinosaur, Sauroposeidon at 18 metres!

 

 

Wednesday, July 27th July 2011

Hey Bella… our journey through Paris continues… and in order to balance the food extravaganza each day, Dad must exercise! So, I ran for an hour and did 40 chin ups, then met C at Saint Paul’s. Wandered around a bit before heading once again toward the Jewish Quarter for one of their tre bonza falafels. Continued to wander aimlessly through the streets of Paris stopping at anything that took our fancy. The delightful window of one particular patisserie took our fancy so we succumbed to a coffee and an enormous slice of cake.

Tuesday, 40 minute run, 45 chin ups & 35 push ups, then met C at Saint Michel Station. From there we went to Bois de Boulogne, the huge forest to the west of Paris. Grabbed a ham & cheese bagette from the patisserie and wandered around Lac Inferieur, not to be confused with Lac Superieur! From the forest we meandered via Trocadero and took 10 minutes out to admire le Tour Eiffel. Moved onto a French crepe restaurant for lunch, savory cheese & ham crepe, sugary crepe and a glass of vin blanc for 14 Euro.

After lunch we met K, a friend of C’s. We settled in a café for a glass of wine and a chat just off the Champs Elysees. At about 5.30pm C & I walked to Parc de Moncau to admire the numerous joggers running laps after work. Back home for a salad and a bowl of ice cream.

Monday, 40 minute jog, 30 chin ups and 100 push ups, and 3 loads of washing. Lazed around the apartment catching up on Cadel Evans inaugural victory in le Tour de France, the silky smooth skills of Carlton’s victory back in Oz, and the 4×100 metre relay gold medal by the Aussie men at the Shanghai World Swimming Championships. Woo-hoo! Gotta love sport!

Lunch & dinner at home then walked to Monmartre to sample some more French wine at our favourite little wine bar, only to discover it was closed. Major bummer! Found a dumpy little bar and sat for a couple of glasses of wine and watched the Parisians glide by.

Saturday and Sunday we were in London. We flew out at about 9am and landed about the same time. Took the train into Oxford Circus to meet Den & Mike for a terrible British brunch. After catching up with my aunt & uncle we jumped on the double-decker bus and headed to Buckingham Palace. Next we met Jason & Y and traveled with them to Notting Hill for a gawk at the local, very busy market. Sat down in a café for a coffee and then took Jason’s Benz back to their pad. Lovely old house, but a supermarket dinner and not much time to catch up with Cadel Evan’s unbelievable time trial ride over 42km where he took an amazing 2 minutes off Schleck to take the yellow jersey!! Viva Cadel!

Sunday we all took a stroll around a typically green UK park with a lovely lake in the middle. Jason then took us to reportedly the oldest pub in the UK for a traditional Sunday roast before Y & Jason drove us back to Luton Airport. Arrived back to our apartment around 11pm.RIMG0070

Love Dad… XoXo…

FAST FACTS

  • In your final year at Katoh Kindergarten (K3), you were chosen as your group’s Camp Leader to Camp Yatsugatake. You looked so proud to sit at the front of the line during the Closing Ceremony when Dad picked you up
  • Lisa (Canadian) and Chihiro Sensei were your teachers in K2

Tuesday, August 2nd 2011

 

Hey Bella, we’re back in Japan! It’s lovely to be back. I love this country, its people, its food, its culture. I’ve been a busy, busy boy. I’ve just finished typing a letter to Noribaba & Jiji. I’m working on one for mother, and another letter for you too. Here is the letter I will post to Noriko San & Yuta San soon:

 

Noriko San & Yuta San,

 

I hope you’re keeping cool and enjoying your grandchildren during the summer vacation.

 

I am writing to you in the hope that you may attempt to ease some of the pain my family and I feel.

 

I know you respect me as a parent because you both signed your consent allowing me custody of Ophelia when she was just 17 months of age. During the time I had custody of Ophelia, under Japanese law I could have gone back to Australia at any time with my daughter. Despite having no family here, I stayed in Japan because I put Ophelia first. I felt it was more important for Ophelia’s identity that she saw A…a and her Japanese grandparents than taking her and moving to Australia. Even when my parents came to Numazu I allowed Ophelia to stay with her mother. Naturally, sometimes she didn’t want to go to Tokorozawa because she would miss one of her kindergarten friend’s birthday parties, a picnic, a day at Shimoda Beach, or a kindergarten excursion. I say naturally, because children enjoy the moment. Despite her reluctance to sometimes visit her mother, I always encouraged her to go.

 

Presently, Ophelia lives with her new family. Pleasingly, she seems more comfortable with her step-father. Ophelia attends school and has made many friends. Naturally she is content, and like all children reserves a special place in her heart for her mother.

 

As you’re well aware, Ophelia can at times be a serious soul, a very mature and caring child. Indeed at one point after the divorce of your daughter and myself, A…a San said to me that sometimes she felt as if their roles were reversed, i.e., Ophelia took the nurturing role of the mother, A…a San the daughter. It was a low point in A…a San’s life; she had just crashed her motorbike and had called me in tears. Even as a 3/4 year old, Ophelia was looking out for her mother.

 

Today, Ophelia is still looking out for her mother. She is keenly aware of her mother’s antagonism towards me. Naturally, in her mother’s presence Ophelia will say things to please her mother. A…a San is quick to tell me that Ophelia doesn’t wish to see me. As a mother, it’s surprising that A…a San cannot see the truth, or perhaps she does. There are two reasons Ophelia may not wish to spend time with me:

  1. She has an engagement such as a birthday party and genuinely wishes to attend
  2. She senses her mother’s reluctance for the visit to eventuate, and sides with her mother

 

The first reason is totally understandable; the second must weigh heavy on Ophelia’s heart, and it is this burden I am most concerned about.

 

During the time I had custody, every third week Ophelia went to stay with you. Ophelia & I even returned from our holidays at Christmas in Australia so that she could be with you over the New Year Period, a special time of year for your family.

 

After the Japanese court took custody from me, I had to believe that A…a San would respect the rulings of the judge. Anything had to be better than not seeing my wonderful daughter at all. So when the courts granted me 2 visits per month (one overnight), as well as extended visits during the summer (6 nights/7 days, with an option for 9 nights), winter (4 nights/5 days) and spring (2 nights/3 days) vacations, I had to believe A…a San would respect the judge’s rulings.

 

Since I relinquished custody on November 26th, 2009, however, A…a San has made it increasingly difficult for me to see my daughter.

 

Here’s the summary of my contact with Ophelia:

 

Extended Visitations (Duration, date and meeting place always fixed by Azusa San depending on her schedule)

December 24-26th 2009 (Met in Tokorozawa, dropped off in Ikebukuro)

Spring 2010 – No Visit due to A…a San’s refusal to commit to dates

August 4-5th & August 27-28th 2010 (Met in Ikebukuro)

Winter 2010/11 – No Visit due to A…a San’s refusal to commit to dates

Spring 2011 – No Visit due to A…a San’s refusal to commit to dates

Summer 2011 – No Visit due to A…a San’s refusal to commit to dates

 

Overnight Visitations (Duration, date and meeting place always fixed by A…a San depending on her schedule)

November 29th 2009 (Met in Ikebukuro)

January 30th 2010 (Met in Ikebukuro)

February 27th 2010 (Met in Ikebukuro)

March 27th 2010 – No visit (received a phone call from A…a San while on the Tokyu Line to pick up Ophelia. A…a San said Ophelia had a stomachache)

April 25th 2010 (Met in Ikebukuro)

May 15th 2010 (Met in Ikebukuro)

June 27th 2010 (Met in Ikebukuro)

September 11th 2010 – No visit (A…a San suddenly cancelled stating Ophelia was unwell)

October 21-22nd 2010 (Met in Tokorozawa, dropped off in Ikebukuro)

November 20th 2010 – No visit (A…a San suddenly cancelled stating Ophelia had a cold)

December – No visit (A…a San refused to commit to any dates stating Ophelia’s schedule was too busy)

January – No visit (A…a San refused to commit to any dates stating Ophelia’s schedule was too busy)

February 12th 2011 (Met in Ikebukuro)

March – No visit (A…a San refused to commit to any dates stating Ophelia was too afraid to travel by train after the March 11th Earthquake, despite the fact she travels to school each day by train)

April – No visit (A…a San refused to commit to any dates stating Ophelia’s schedule was too busy)

May 2011– No visit (A…a San refused to commit to any dates stating Ophelia’s schedule was too busy)

June 25th 2011 (Met in Ikebukuro)

August 14th and/or 15th 2011– No visit (A…a San cancelled stating Ophelia was unwell)

 

One-Day Contact (Duration, date and meeting place always fixed by A…a San depending on her schedule)

December 6th 2009 (Met in Tokorozawa)

January 7th 2010 (Met in Tokorozawa)

February 13th 2010 (Met in Tokorozawa)

March 31 2010 (Met in Tokorozawa)

April 4th 2010 (Met in Tokorozawa)

May 29th 2010 (Met in Tokorozawa)

June 5th 2010 (Met in Tokorozawa)

September 2010– No visit (A…a San suggested one of the Japanese Public Holidays (Respect for the Aged Day or Autumn Equinox) knowing full well that international schools operate as usual on Japanese Public Holidays; when she was again informed of this fact, she refused to commit to a different date)

October 2010– No visit (A…a San scheduled a visit for October 11th, again a Japanese Public Holiday, National Sports Day; she refused to commit to a different date)

November 14th 2010 (Met in Tokorozawa)

December 18th 2010 – No visit (A…a San suddenly cancelled stating Ophelia had a cold)

January 4th 2010 (Met in Tokorozawa)

February 2011– No visit (A…a San refused to commit to any dates stating Ophelia’s schedule was too busy)

March 2011– No visit (A…a San refused to commit to any dates stating Ophelia was too afraid to travel by train after the March 11th Earthquake, despite the fact she travels to school each day by train)

April 23rd 2011 (Met in Tokorozawa)

May 2011– No visit (A…a San refused to commit to any dates stating Ophelia’s schedule was too busy)

June 2011– No visit (A…a San refused to commit to any dates stating Ophelia’s schedule was too busy)

August 8th 2011 (Met in Tokorozawa)

August 17th 2011 (Met in Kotesashi)

 

As you can see, the first year A…a San managed to coordinate visits somewhat consistently despite the fact she refused to schedule any extended visits of the duration the court specified. In the past year however, Ophelia and I have rarely met.

 

Again and again I have requested that Ophelia’s overnight visits be scheduled. For example: every 3rd Saturday of the month, and our lunches every 1st Sunday. By doing so her family in Australia would have the opportunity of renewing their family ties. Several times my family has planned to visit Japan, but A…a San has never agreed to visitation dates so that they can coordinate their flights. In March 2009, Ophelia’s grandparents came to Japan for 3 weeks to see their first grandchild. For 20 days we waited in Yokohama to see Ophelia, until A…a San’s lawyer finally agreed to a 2 hour visit in the artificial confines of a hotel lobby. What sort of child feels comfortable in a hotel lobby? Fortunately, after the intervention of my lawyer A…a San reconsidered and allowed us to meet at Koku Koen.

 

Through no fault of their own, Kerry & Deirdre too are denied access to their first grandchild. As a result of the emotional turmoil, Deirdre has suffered acute depression. Can you imagine life without your adorable first grandchild? Can you imagine seeing Ophelia just once in 4 long years? Can you imagine not being able to read her a story, take her to the park, help her with her homework, sing songs with her, celebrate her birthday, hold her hand, watch her grow and mature…

 

I just want what’s right for my family and daughter. Ophelia needs to feel comfortable with her identity as bilingual & bicultural, and the fact that she is lucky to have two families who love her very much. She needs to see that A…a San and I can communicate openly, responsibly and fairly on her behalf. Constructive co-parenting can only assist Ophelia… it’s a gift we are yet to give to Ophelia.

 

Noriko San and Yuta San, we are hoping your wise and calm minds can understand our pain. We would appreciate any effort you make in pleading with A…a San about more consistently meeting Ophelia & my visitation rights. My family and I miss her presence in our lives very much. We very much miss being a part of her life, and very much look forward to welcoming Ophelia more regularly into our lives.

 

Thanking you in anticipation,

 

Gerard Morice.

 

Just finished copying out a letter to give to you tomorrow… let’s hope it’s sunny, I’m planning on a splash at the Kotesashi Pool! Fancy a swim?

 

Here’s your letter:

 

August 1st, 2011

Dear Ophelia,

C & Dad just arrived back from Paris. It’s such a beautiful city. Some day I hope we can wander its streets together, marvel at its history & buildings, experience its culture and delicious cuisine.

I bought you a cute notebook in France because I know you like to write things. I want you to write things in it just for you, all your secrets and thoughts. Maybe in 10 years time when you’re 18 you might like to share some parts with me. You can put this letter in it if you like.

I also bought you a piggybank so you can save your money for something special. Maybe a trip to Paris. I showed C what I bought you, and guess what? she had already bought you a beautiful box to put all your special tiny things in. The moment C showed me what she had bought you, she made my eyes water knowing she cares about you too.

This summer vacation I want to take you camping, to Disneyland, the pool, the beach, on a rollercoaster, to Bamiyan, anywhere you want to go. But most of all I want to read you stories before you go to bed, 3 every night like we used to in Numazu. I want to make you a bento and take you on a picnic to find Totoro in the forest, to make up silly songs and sing them with you, to listen to you talk about school and your friends, to watch movies with you and to Skype Nandee & Pa, your cousins, aunts & uncles.

I want you to stay with C & I this summer for a few days, it would be so much fun, but your Mother says it won’t happen. I also want you to know that I call often because I miss you and want to see you. I called many, many times from Paris but the phone was only answered once.

This is the first letter I’m going to give you, but actually because your Mother makes it very difficult for you to see me, instead of talking with you, I write to you often. Sometimes I write 2 or 3 times a week. Already I have written over 150 pages. When you’re older I’ll give you my letters, so you’ll know how much I love you.

One day you’ll understand how much I miss you. I think about you every day. My wish for you is to be happy… to always be happy.

Lots of love & hugs,

 

Dad.

 

P.S. If you want to talk to me about anything, here’s my telephone number:

080 3177 5144 or 045 633 8043. Or you can write to me at:

221-0003 Kanagawa-Ku, Oguchinaka-Machi 194-9-406

 

Monday, August 8th 2011

Hey Gorgeous… well that was weird! I’ve just come back from Tokorozawa where we had lunch together… just the one short hour. The weird part was that your mother decided to join us. It was kind of nice that she decided to join us because since this all started I have wanted to sit down with her and just talk. Unfortunately she wasn’t too talkative, but it still gave me a chance to ask her how you were doing at school, your friends and interests. I gave you your presents from France, a very cool writing book from Paris, for you to write all your secrets in, and a piggy bank so you can save for your own trip to somewhere special. I also handed over C’s gift, an exquisite box in the shape of a heart with Parisian decorations, and within a sparkly Eiffel Tower keychain. I think C’s gift was your favourite.

I wanted to give you the letter I had penned, and that C had painstakingly translated into JP, with a good deal of hiragana, but I didn’t want to upset your mother, nor for you to feel uncomfortable… so maybe next time…

Your mother said you can stay over Sunday night, and or Monday night… imagine that, two nights! Oh, la, la! Tanoshimi Phi Chan!

XoXo… Dad…

WICKED WISDOM

“Plane travel is nature’s way of making you look like your passport photo.” – Al Gore

 

Monday, August 15th 2011

Morning Bella! Another hot, hot day! We were hoping to take you to the beach for a swim and a splash today or yesterday. Your mother had said you could stay over last night and/or tonight but when she eventually picked up the phone yesterday morning after I had called every day since Thursday morning, she said you were sick… again! You were never this sick when we lived together in Numz. In fact even with a fever you were such a trooper, always so genki and positive.

So no beach, no swim at Myorenji Pool, no screams aboard the rollercoaster at Minato Mirai, no curry rice in your favourite beanbag and a video, and sadly no stories just before bed.

Your mother said that we can see each other Wednesday… let’s see, I certainly hope so!

Dad… XoXo…

FAST FACTS

  • We used to love to read “Lazy Ozzie” together. It’s the story of the laziest owl in the world, not the laziest Aussie! Mother Owl is determined to make him fly but he can’t be bothered
  • After we went to Fuji Safari Park once, Pat, you & I made a book with all the photos of our day. I still have that book, today & forever…

 

Thursday, August 18th 2011

G’day Mermaid! Another scorching hot day with the temperature expected to reach 36 degrees in Tokyo. Yesterday we met at the Kotesashi Pool at 10am for a swim and a splash. The water was warm, so warm we basically didn’t get out for 3 and a half hours. We were straight in the pool and you were keen to show me your ‘crawl’ as you termed it. I was most impressed. It seems Yoko has been teaching you a bit at Iruma Pool. You were able to swim for 4 or 5 strokes but not yet able to breathe. We did a few techniques from Dad’s days as a swim coach. We turned the drills into games with you diving through my legs, and diving to the bottom to retrieve a coin, which you loved and did over and over again. Each time you dived I taught you to release the air from your lungs by blowing out.RIMG0074

At about 11.30am we were already hungry so we jumped out for a bit of Dad’s bento. A peanut butter sandwich for you, but you declined the ham and camembert sandwich ‘cause I’d put a bit of pepper on it. I thought you’d love it, ‘cause when you were at Katoh Kinder I used to pop in a piece of camembert, alongside your conyak jelly & dried apricots. One day you came home and delightedly told me your friends wanted to know what was in the blue sparkly tin foil wrapper. Even after you told your mates it was ‘camembert’, they still weren’t too sure what it was. Anyway, as I made your bento I was reminiscing about the days I used to make your bentos on Tuesdays & Thursdays. The camembert we bought in Paris, and is so delicious, I was picturing your smile broaden as you chomped into the ham & cheese sandwich… maybe next time… no pepper hey Mermaid!

As usual, all too soon we had to race to the change rooms and meet Kyuu Chan at 2pm… what a glorious day my Little Morice Mermaid… thank YOU!RIMG0073

XoXo… Dad…

FAST FACTS

  • When you were 8 you dived to the bottom of the 1.4 metre pool at Kotesashi to retrieve Dad’s coin. Did you know that the deepest point of the Pacific Ocean is 10,924 metres?
  • Teaching reading is rocket science (Louisa Moats)

 

Saturday, August 20th 2011

Wow, how was the rain yesterday! It was torrential! C went to the Kuyakusho (ward office) and got absolutely drowned. I was keen to go into school and do a few things, but waited for a lull in the rain before I walked to the station.

This morning I went for a jog with Craig; he lives just around the corner. We used to coach x-country together, and as usual before long we began chatting away about our adorable daughters. It got me thinking about our evenings together…

Remember your bed routine? After the bath, you would come to the carpet and attempt to play with your lego, or your princess castle, or tidy your dolls, and Dad would chase you around and try and dry & brush your hair.

-So, ready for your milk?

-No, thank you.

-Beautiful manners! What about 3 books and bed then?

-Yeah okay.

So at 7.30pm we would choose the books together and climb up on the black leather couch, or slip into the beanbag. It was a special time and usually lasted 20 minutes or so.

-Do you want your milk now?

-No, thank you.

Sometimes you did slurp your milk while we read, and other times you didn’t. After the last book we’d go to the bathroom and brush your teeth. Then it was a piggyback up the stairs usually with a bit of a song. Throw you down on your bed (which I made) with a giggle and a tickle…

-Can I have another book?

Usually Dad would give in and you’d get a fourth story. Then it was time to tuck you in, kiss you and gently pinch your nose. Before I left your room I made sure your pastel blue curtains were open a little…

-Can you make up a story?

-Mmm… who’s in it?

You would sit up and tell me you were in the story, a white horse and usually a princess. So I would make up a story, a very special time for both of us. Some nights I would tell you how much I love you. Our conversation would often follow a favourite book of ours…

-I love you more than from here to school.

-Well, I love you from here to the beach.

-Well, I love you from here to Australia.

-Well, I love you from here to the moon and back!

And so on. More kisses, and then Dad would sing you a song, often my favourites such as WPA’s Manana or Rosy & Grey. Finally it was time for Dad to go down stairs and clean up. After 15 minutes I’d check on you, and most nights you’d go to sleep quite quickly. Some nights however, after about 5 – 10 minutes I’d hear someone tip toeing down the stairs and open the door to the living area…

I’m thirsty, can I have my milk now? Or some nights it was… -I’m hungry, can I have a banana?

How could I resist the charm of the most adorable 5 year old?

Ophelia, I love you… always will… Dad… XoXo…

WICKED WISDOM… HA-HA…

“It always rains on tents. Rainstorms will travel thousands of miles, against prevailing winds for the opportunity to rain on a tent.” – Dave Barry (comedian)

 

Monday, August 22nd 2011

G’day Bella. I just spent my first full day back at school. It was nice to see all the teachers again. I had quite a few meetings but I also managed to spend some time in my classroom preparing for the new school year with my new Grade 4 students.

On Saturday afternoon, C & I rode our bicycles to Kanazawa University to check out the library. On the way back we dropped into a convenience store to post/takyubin separate letters to your mother and Noribaba & Yutajiji.

Today those letters arrived. At 3.30pm your mother called, which was interesting because she rarely if ever calls. I was in my classroom and due for a meeting, but I thought it was more important to chat with A…a. I still can’t quite believe that your mother actually called me. I guess me documenting exactly which scheduled visits she cancelled/cancels spooked/spooks her. To be truthful I can’t work it out. The Family Court, AKA the court-with-no-teeth won’t show us any empathy for all the visitations that go unaccounted for, nor will they rebuke your mother’s actions preventing us from seeing one another. Despite the court’s legislation noting we are permitted to see each other, they seem to condone any actions your mother makes. Anyway, your mother seemed unnaturally flustered & quite panicked, even immature, and of course angry. She told me how busy she was, and how difficult it is to care for two children. I told her I envied her, and if looking after Ophelia was too much of a hardship I would gladly look after you. I told your mother that every night before she sleeps, and every morning when she wakes she should thank her good fortune for the custody of Ophelia. I asked her if she realized how lucky she was to care for a daughter such as Ophelia. She said she knew Ophelia was a special child, but again stated that I didn’t understand how busy she was.

I thought about the fact that I raised you largely alone, sometimes with the help of Nandee & Pa, but usually it was just the two of us. I had a fulltime job, so I took you to and from kinder, prepared your breakfast, bento & dinner, dressed you & bathed you, toilet trained you, took you to hospital, invited your friends over… yes, I was busy, but at the time I thought I was the luckiest Dad in the world… I thought about these things, but I didn’t mention them to your mother.

A…a said that if I wanted to see you I should be helping, and by that she insinuated I should be paying child support. I told your mother that I thought the figure of $124,314.64 which I gave her, half of all our money when we divorced was more than reasonable, especially as she never contributed anything financially to our household. It was half of all the money I had, but curiously your mother never gave me half of what was in her bank accounts. Actually, Yuta & Noriko very kindly contributed some money toward our house in Australia, and I suggested she reimburse them the exact amount from her half of the above figure.

When your mother pushed the issue of child support again, I mentioned the fact that when I had custody and was paying roughly 60,000 yen each month at Ooka Kinder, then again later at Katoh Kinder, she never offered to assist with your tuition. For years, I paid both in full, and never once asked for any money from her or the Hirakawa family. At the time I never brought this issue up, because for me it wasn’t an issue. But when she brought it up again, it pained me to think she wants more money from me. I recalled that when we used to meet at Kawaguchiko, I even used to give A…a or Noriko, depending on who picked you up/dropped you off 1500 yen to assist them with the highway tolls… wasn’t that simply the right thing to do?

So, this afternoon your mother said she will reimburse me half of all the tuition fees when you were in my care, if I would now pay towards your tuition now. I said I thought it quite unreasonable to now offer to pay after all these years. I expected nothing financially from her, so why should she demand remuneration now?

I asked your mother when I could see you again, and instead she argued that she never actually prevented me from seeing you. I said that’s not true because she has cancelled our visits on numerous occasions. Suddenly, she said I could see you tomorrow. I stated that I was working as she was no doubt aware (via the emails I had sent her regarding my holiday dates). Quite hysterically she said Ophelia has appointments until 9pm on Tuesday, August 23rd, but I could meet you thereafter. I was quite shocked because I thought she might have by now realised that a routine for an eight-year child is of utmost importance. I calmly stated that a child should be in bed before 9pm, and that it’s not an appropriate time to be meeting you.

The thought of meeting you at 9pm brought back memories of when you used to return from Tokorozawa. The first few nights were always extremely difficult to get you asleep by 8pm, because of your late nights with your mother, and obvious late starts in the morning too. At the time, I tried to convince your mother that it made it very difficult for you at Kinder, and the importance of routine. Even after the Kinder teachers mentioned the fact that you seemed sleepy when you returned from Tokorozawa and I mentioned this to her, she wouldn’t listen to reasoning.

I was actually talking with your mother! And, to make matters more interesting, she appeared to be listening.

I asked your mother again when I could see you…

-How about this weekend? No, you’re going to Nagano.

-How about the following weekend? No, you have school.

-I could pick Ophelia up after school on Saturday. No…

I suggested to your mother that that’s the very reason we need to organize our visits each month, for example every 2nd weekend of every month you sleep over, and every 4th Sunday of the month we spend a fun day together. That way we all organise our schedules accordingly, and sometimes we just have to compromise.

Anyway Bella, this is likely more than you can handle, so I’ll sign off and copy/paste the letter I posted to your mother.

Here it is:

 

Monday, August 15th, 2011

 

 

A…a San,

 

I am writing to you in the hope that you may begin to respect the decision of the judge as handed down on November 26th, 2009.

 

The judge granted me 2 visits per month (one overnight), as well as extended visits during the summer (6 nights/7 days, with an option to extend to 9 nights), winter (4 nights/5 days) and spring (2 nights/3 days) vacations.

 

Since I relinquished custody on November 26th however, you have made it increasingly difficult for me to see my daughter.

 

Here’s the summary of my contact with Ophelia:

Extended Visitations (Duration, date and meeting place always fixed by A…a San depending on her schedule)

December 24-26th 2009 (Met in Tokorozawa, dropped off in Ikebukuro)

Spring 2010 – No Visit due to A…a San’s refusal to commit to dates

August 4-5th & August 27-28th 2010 (Met in Ikebukuro)

Winter 2010/11 – No Visit due to A…a San’s refusal to commit to dates

Spring 2011 – No Visit due to A…a San’s refusal to commit to dates

Summer 2011 – No Visit due to A…a San’s refusal to commit to dates

 

Overnight Visitations (Duration, date and meeting place always fixed by A…a San depending on her schedule)

November 29th 2009 (Met in Ikebukuro)

January 30th 2010 (Met in Ikebukuro)

February 27th 2010 (Met in Ikebukuro)

March 27th 2010 – No visit (received a phone call from A…a San while on the Tokyu Line to pick up Ophelia. A…a San said Ophelia had a stomachache)

April 25th 2010 (Met in Ikebukuro)

May 15th 2010 (Met in Ikebukuro)

June 27th 2010 (Met in Ikebukuro)

September 11th 2010 – No visit (A…a San suddenly cancelled stating Ophelia was unwell)

October 21-22nd 2010 (Met in Tokorozawa, dropped off in Ikebukuro)

November 20th 2010 – No visit (A…a San suddenly cancelled stating Ophelia had a cold)

December – No visit (A…a San refused to commit to any dates stating Ophelia’s schedule was too busy)

January – No visit (A…a San refused to commit to any dates stating Ophelia’s schedule was too busy)

February 12th 2011 (Met in Ikebukuro)

March – No visit (A…a San refused to commit to any dates stating Ophelia was too afraid to travel by train after the March 11th Earthquake, despite the fact she travels to school each day by train)

April – No visit (A…a San refused to commit to any dates stating Ophelia’s schedule was too busy)

May 2011– No visit (A…a San refused to commit to any dates stating Ophelia’s schedule was too busy)

June 25th 2011 (Met in Ikebukuro)

August 14th and/or 15th 2011– No visit (A…a San cancelled stating Ophelia was unwell)

 

One-Day Contact (Duration, date and meeting place always fixed by A…a San depending on her schedule)

December 6th 2009 (Met in Tokorozawa)

January 7th 2010 (Met in Tokorozawa)

February 13th 2010 (Met in Tokorozawa)

March 31 2010 (Met in Tokorozawa)

April 4th 2010 (Met in Tokorozawa)

May 29th 2010 (Met in Tokorozawa)

June 5th 2010 (Met in Tokorozawa)

September 2010– No visit (A…a San suggested one of the Japanese Public Holidays (Respect for the Aged Day or Autumn Equinox) knowing full well that international schools operate as usual on Japanese Public Holidays; when she was again informed of this fact, she refused to commit to a different date)

October 2010– No visit (A…a San scheduled a visit for October 11th, again a Japanese Public Holiday, National Sports Day; she refused to commit to a different date)

November 14th 2010 (Met in Tokorozawa)

December 18th 2010 – No visit (A…a San suddenly cancelled stating Ophelia had a cold)

January 4th 2010 (Met in Tokorozawa)

February 2011– No visit (A…a San refused to commit to any dates stating Ophelia’s schedule was too busy)

March 2011– No visit (A…a San refused to commit to any dates stating Ophelia was too afraid to travel by train after the March 11th Earthquake, despite the fact she travels to school each day by train)

April 23rd 2011 (Met in Tokorozawa)

May 2011– No visit (A…a San refused to commit to any dates stating Ophelia’s schedule was too busy)

June 2011– No visit (A…a San refused to commit to any dates stating Ophelia’s schedule was too busy)

August 8th 2011 (Met in Tokorozawa)

August 17th 2011 (Met in Kotesashi)

 

As you can see, the first year we managed to coordinate visits somewhat consistently despite the fact there were sadly no extended visits. In the past year however, Ophelia and I have rarely met.

 

Again and again I have requested that Ophelia’s overnight visits be scheduled; for example: every 3rd Saturday of the month, and our lunches every 1st Sunday. By doing so her family in Australia would have the opportunity of renewing their family ties. Several times my family has planned to visit Japan, but you have never agreed to visitation dates so that they can coordinate their flights.

 

I just want what’s right for Ophelia. Ophelia needs to feel comfortable with her identity as bilingual & bicultural, and the fact that she is lucky to have two families who love her very much. She needs to see that we can communicate openly, responsibly and fairly on her behalf. Constructive co-parenting can only assist Ophelia… it’s a gift we are yet to give to Ophelia.

 

Thanking you in anticipation,

 

Gerard Morice.

 

Sunday, September 11th 2011

Bella, bella, bella… without doubt you are the most precious person in my life. I’ve just said goodbye to you at Tokorozawa Station. We met at 3pm and said our farewells just 90 minutes later. Even so, our short time together was very, very special. As we walked away from the station you almost immediately took my hand making my love so much more real. We chatted happily about school, Australia, you getting up at 5am to practice walking the dog you don’t yet have. It seems your mother may have promised you a dog if you’re committed to walking it every morning, and you my beautiful princess are preparing yourself just perfectly. Ironic really, because when your mother wanted a dog, she never walked Riku. Even before you were born I awoke early like you and walked/jogged Riku before I went off to school. Your mother didn’t even have a job to go to, and yet she never volunteered to walk Riku. It was most odd, because your mother & Riku shared a good relationship (when it suited her), she treating Riku as very much a lapdog, but because his ancestry was as a farm dog, he needed exercise otherwise he’d dig holes in the garden, jump the fence and bark all day.

So, we walked to a family restaurant where you had a drink and a kaki-gori (is that the word for the sweet Japanese ice?) and Dad had a hamburger. I had brought along my laptop to show you some old photos of the 2 of us at Christmas in years gone by, back in Numazu, and even Oz, just to jog your memory. I don’t want you to forget all those beautiful memories!

We talked too about next weekend, because next weekend is a long weekend and it’s about the only public holiday we receive at Saint Maur International School. You were keen to stay over for two nights, especially as I said we might stay in a hotel by Disneyland again.

After a bite to eat we took some cool Puri-kura photos at an amusement centre. Once again I was impressed by your Japanese reading ability to navigate the system. The photos are cool, even if Dad does look a bit feminine, but I’m not complaining because somehow Dad’s wrinkles have been erased.

A quick pit stop at the 100 yen shop to buy you a special eraser, and it was already time to meet your mother. I told your mother that you were keen to stay over next weekend, but my poor angel, you immediately became quiet, nervous & uncomfortable in her presence. I’m sorry Phi, perhaps I shouldn’t have asked your mother in your presence. Then she closed the electronic sliding door of the car in my face and you were gone. I stood there trying to smile and reach out my heart to you, but I felt myself wanting to cry. After a minute or two, I moved away, and boarded the train back to Myorenji. I hope you’re okay.

Love Dad… XoXo..

WICKED WISDOM

“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.” – Jack Kerouac, On the Road

 

Monday, September 12th 2011

G’day Ophi Chan,

This morning around 6.10am when I had finished my shower there were two calls from your mother. Wow, two! That’s a record surely! I was worried something may be wrong with you so I called back straight away and your mother answered. She said that you had something to say. She passed the phone to you and you hesitantly told me that you had school next weekend so you couldn’t stay over at Dad’s house. I said that was okay, and added perhaps we could get together some time soon. Then you passed the phone back to your mother who said you had something else to say. Again she passed the phone back to you after she had said something to you. I knew from the beginning what your mother was trying to force you to say something you didn’t really feel, so when I heard the silent tears of your heart, I knew you were being pushed into saying something you felt uncomfortable about. I told you everything was okay. I told you that I love you and again that everything would be okay. Suddenly your mother was back on the phone and told me that you didn’t want to see me. I told her not to talk like this in front of our daughter. I told her it’s unfair to put such pressure on a child of 8, on a child who has done nothing wrong, on a child who intends no harm to anyone, on our daughter who loves us both very much. Your mother then hung the phone up after digging in the knife and telling me our daughter wanted nothing more to do with her Dad.

I know you don’t mean it Phi. It’s okay, it really is.

So this afternoon after school I visited a new lawyer to seek professional guidance in terms of visitation. I met her for 90 minutes to see if there were any options left open to us. It doesn’t seem very promising. Apparently your mother has the power to do as she wishes. Why my unhappiness is so important to her I cannot comprehend. She has everything she seemingly wants in gaining custody of the most beautiful daughter in the world. Why she’s not the happiest person in the world, I have no idea.

Go with care Ophelia. I love you, and know what’s in your heart. Be strong, stay true… LOVE DAD… XoXo…

 

WICKED WISDOM

“In America there are two classes of travel – first class, and with children.” – Robert Benchley (actor)

 

Saturday, September 17th 2011

I just called your house. Your mother answered and told me that if I wanted to see you again I would have to organize all visitation through a lawyer. Again. I asked her why she was acting so cruel and nasty when all I want to do is see my dear Ophelia… she hung up on me. I don’t understand her animosity, or why she is disregarding the recommendations of the visitation agreement that was agreed upon in the Family Court. Anyway Bella, I want you to know that today too, and every morning when I wake, and every evening when I sleep, I think of you.

Why does she hate me so much?

Dad… XoXo…

FAST FACT

Your mother can be crazy beautiful, and crazy scary!

 

Friday, September 23rd 2011

Woof, woof… one, one… there’s a new Australian movie out called Red Dog. Actually it was released in Australia a couple of months ago, but now it’s becoming quite popular abroad too. I haven’t heard if it’s coming to Japan, but if and when it does, LET’S GO together! Nandee & Pa so much want to take you to see it. They say it’s fantastic! They also say you would absolutely love it. It’s the story of a dog that looks just like our Riku, a red heeler who in years gone by used to hitch rides on trains and trucks over a large part of Australia. Evidently it’s based on a true story.

If not this year at the movie theatre, one day together on the couch and beanbag… DVD time with popcorn!

 

Here’s another legal missive I sent to my new lawyer:

 

Fumie San,

My apologies for not sending a swift reply. I’ve spent a lot of time collecting my thoughts and putting them into a letter. It’s very important to me that you know the truth and you believe in me. I want you to ask any questions you may have, and I promise to answer them truthfully. I also want you to get a feel for what sort of father I am, so I am keen to show you photos & video of Ophelia and myself together over the years.

Firstly, thank you for contacting Ophelia’s mother’s lawyer.

I think it is most unjustified what A…a is claiming. The photo evidence alone will prove that Ophelia & I share a wonderful relationship. Indeed each time she stays over, I suggest it’s time that she sleeps on her own futon, but since we’ve been living apart, Ophelia always chooses to sleep beside me. When we lived in Numazu, for the first 5 years of her life she slept in her own bed, in her own bedroom.

In my letters to A…a and her parents prior to A…a requesting our case go back to arbitration in the Family Court, I documented proposed visitation dates and the many that were canceled. Some of the cancelations were without reason, but most were canceled because of Ophelia’s health (sickness). I would telephone close to the visitation date and A…a would tell me Ophelia was sick. This could reflect poorly on her for not looking after our daughter’s health.  It would seem that A…a is now twisting the truth to her advantage.

The day the above letters arrived at A…a’s and her parents’ address, A…a telephoned me. She was very angry I had contacted her parents outlining the cancelation of visits. She told me not to contact her parents again. A…a never mentioned Ophelia’s health during the telephone call, but she threatened to proceed to court. My reason for contacting her parents is because we once shared a good relationship. In fact, immediately after her XXX her parents supported me. I was hopeful that they could see how unreasonable their daughter was being of late, and how she was adversely affecting Ophelia’s mental state.

During the time we were in the Family Court and for months thereafter, I never saw Yuta & Noriko (grandparents). When we finally met, Yuta took my hand and shook it. We looked into each other’s eyes and I felt he understood my pain. There were tears in both our eyes. When I finally met Noriko, she gave me a photo of Ophelia in a kimono she had made.

After the March 11th Earthquake I had a hard time trying to contact A…a to check on their safety. Finally she returned my call. I was extremely eager to see Ophelia, but A…a said our daughter was afraid of travelling on the train. I found this rational most disturbing considering that Ophelia travels to and from school by train every day. I told her I would gladly travel to Tokorozawa, but this offer too was refused.

Each year I attend Ophelia’s Sports’ Festival in Akitsu. I watch from afar alone. Usually A…a’s parents & sister greet me, but A…a does not. Usually Ophelia will come to me for 3 or 4 minutes just before she eats her lunch with her new family. She gives me a hug and asks me did I see her run in this race, etc. At the last festival however, Ophelia didn’t come to say hello. I waited in my usual place and called her mother several times, but she never answered the phone. I thought about seeking their picnic area out so as to greet Ophelia, but I didn’t want to embarrass her step-father. So I left later in the afternoon without seeing Ophelia.

Each time I see my daughter, we laugh and talk in a very positive sense. When Ophelia returns to her mother’s she is unable to share this joy. My guess is she senses and by now knows very well A…a’s animosity towards me. Ophelia therefore is unable to communicate with her mother regarding the good times she shares with me. Ophelia seems fully aware of her mother’s negativity regarding our father – daughter relationship, and this burden must weigh very heavily on her shoulders. It’s hardly surprising then that when she returns to her mother’s, she may feel most uncomfortable and perhaps even physically sick because of her mother’s attitude.

 

The truth is, Ophelia and I share a very special relationship.

 

During the time I had custody of my daughter, I never denied A…a or my daughter’s Japanese grandparents access to Ophelia. They met my daughter on a regular basis because they are part of her family. I believe that my daughter is very lucky to be loved by two families. I still believe this to be true. I also know both families are important for my daughter’s identity, and I will continue to tell my daughter how lucky she is to be loved by her Japanese & Australian families.

 

When Ophelia lived with me, we even telephoned A…a to wish her Happy Mother’s Day, and called Noriko (grandma) to wish her happy birthday. Now, I telephone 3 or 4 times every week always at about 6pm. Usually the telephone is not answered. When the telephone is answered, A…a usually says Ophelia is not at home, or in the bath, or is unable to come to the telephone. As a result, I am rarely able to speak with my daughter.

 

I will not undermine A…a as a parent ever in the company of Ophelia. It is wrong, irresponsible, and adversely affects the mindset of my daughter. In addition, I have not, and will not speak negatively about A…a in my daughter’s presence. In years to come, my daughter can make up her own mind.

 

A…a is fully aware of my love for Ophelia, it is only equaled by her own love for our daughter. Quite obviously however, she speaks negatively about me in front of Ophelia. This has become quite apparent over the years by the things Ophelia tells me. This is an unhealthy mind game for a parent to play on a child. It places enormous pressure on the child to take sides.

 

At our most recent get together (90 minutes in Tokorozawa), Ophelia was excited about the prospect of spending a night with me in Yokohama. We talked of Dad’s gourmet curry rice on the couch together while watching our favourite movie Spirit, amongst other things.  When we arrived at the pick-up point, I politely & positively said to A…a that Ophelia is keen to come and spend the weekend in Yokohama with me. A…a turned on Ophelia in disbelief and anger asking our daughter in a negative tone: “Ehh, Daddy no tokoro tomaritai!?” She then very rudely closed the automatic sliding door of the car in my face. Ophelia looked most upset and unsure of herself. She was unable to say anything.

 

The very next morning at 6am A…a telephoned. She said Ophelia had something to say to me. The phone was passed to Ophelia. I spoke with Ophelia calmly and lovingly, for I sensed my daughter was being pushed into saying that she didn’t want to see me. She was unable to utter the words her mother had coached her to say. Her mother then took the telephone and told me Ophelia would say it in Japanese. I asked A…a to stop pressuring Ophelia, but instead she passed the phone to Ophelia. Once again Ophelia was unable to say whatever her mother wanted her to say. All the same, her mother placed her under duress by trying to make her say words that are not in her heart, thoughts that are not her own. Some 40 minutes later, I received a very short but inaudible voice message from Ophelia. It is the first time Ophelia has called me. No doubt she was directed to telephone by her mother.

 

When my daughter is with me we always enjoy each other’s company. The last time we met, Ophelia took my hand within minutes of leaving her mother. The photos & video footage I have of our special time together point to a very special bond, a bond that has been forged since birth. Because A…a suffered from severe depression, she couldn’t be relied upon to feed Ophelia through the night, so despite the fact that I worked full time (even though A…a was not working), I did the nightly feeds, including the 3am feed.

 

When we divorced shortly after Ophelia was 17 months of age, A…a and her parents recognised the fact that she was incapable of looking after our daughter. All parties agreed that I would take custody of our daughter. Is it reasonable for this same individual to now dictate the suspension of my right to see my daughter?

 

I cannot otherwise explain A…a’s vindictive actions. What I do know is that her actions are hurting my daughter, and those that love my daughter.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

Gerard Morice.

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