Tuesday, April 5th 2016
Happy b’day Uncle Sean Morice!!! Ophelia, wouldn’t it be grand to celebrate a b’day with Uncle Seanus Maximus?! I wonder how old your infamous tiger snake victim uncle is… Let’s do the maths; if Dad turns 48 next month, then my little bro’ must be turning 43. Whoo-hoo!
Uncle Ralph left this morning too. It was an epic stay, but it will also be nice just to get back to Cc & Dad. Don’t get me wrong, our spare bedroom is always awaiting you. Saturday the three of us took a trip out to the Big Buddha. Dad ran to the summit from the metro station and Cc & Ralph took the cable car to the top.
So, another chapter passes in our lives and we’re still yet to reunite. How can that be? How can someone who loves you so much keep someone from loving you? Spiritually your presence in my life is ever omnipresent. Your smile, your warmth, your kindness still jogs within my memory. It’s just that your futon remains cold, your black leather school shoes empty of your warmth, but worn photos of you within my wallet signify our love of yesteryear. Your photo graces our walls, and so many of your belongings that I couldn’t bare to part with are safely entombed in Cc’s bedroom cupboard back in Chiba.
Sometimes, only sometimes, I feel like I’m mourning the death of someone I truly love. My mind tells me you’re alive & well, but my heart senses there’s a part of me, a part of you that is dying. With death, one mourns, but there is closure; one eventually moves on. But being banished from your life is a constant. You’re everywhere. You’re in my dreams and you come to life at the smell of certain food. You’re in pictures on our walls and in my wallet. You’re in places we visited together and songs we sang to. And you speak with me in this journal. And yet, you’re nowhere near. Sometimes I forget what it’s like to hold your hand like I last did on September 11th 2011. Sometimes I forget the joy it brought me to see you smile, to hear your laughter, to hold you close. Sometimes I can’t recall the sound of your beautiful voice as we sang together, or the strength with which you hugged me. Sometimes it has just been too long. Sometimes I cry. Only sometimes. I miss you Phi…
I wonder why your mother deliberately took all of this away from you. The love of a family. Stolen. A beautiful identity. Gone. The innocence in which you loved us both freely. Methodically removed. All you wanted was for us to love you as you loved us. Erased. But I am still here Phi. See. I never left you. Never. I will never leave you. I will always side with love and compassion over hate and revenge.
I love you Ophelia Hirakawa-Morice. I always will.
“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller
Here’s an epic song for you. The Sound of Silence:
Saturday, April 9th 2016
Good morning Phi.
How’s life in Nippon? It’s a humid morning here in Hong Kong. I hope it’s not a precursor for a long hot summer! The smog doesn’t seem as bad as during the week, so all the windows are open allowing the sound of Saturday morning commuters and the excavation work going on at the nearby docks to trickle in. Actually, the noise pollution doesn’t actually “trickle” in, it’s constant and sometimes thunders, especially if the renovation work upstairs is going on. It’s loud but not nearly as invasive as when we first arrived. Living in Causeway Bay, seemingly everything operates all the time; “Ratta-tat-tat… Barr-brr-baa!” A Maserati roars past, a ferry sounds its horn, protesters chant their slogans, the diggers excavate another tunnel beneath Victoria Harbour, and the chatter of this diverse melting pot breezes in and out at will. The sounds of democracy & choice? The noise of progress & privilege? Welcome to First World problems!
Last night we had a little celebration on Saint Stephen’s Beach in Stanley for Stan’s b’day. It was Stan’s 50th. He’s a colleague and a wonderful friend. Stan’s daughter, Hayden was there too. She’s a high school student, ever so mature, friendly and wise for someone so young. I so wish you could have joined us as we sat around tables with our toes digging into the sand. The sun set a glorious mass of autumnal colours, and then as the tiny waves washed up on the beach we noticed an electric blue phosphorescent rippling effect. Courtesy of the science teachers present, this stunning nighttime effect shows up because of an abundance of algae in the seawater. It was incredible! Dad racked his memory for where he had seen it before, but my memory failed me. All the same, it was truly beautiful. I just wish we could have celebrated Stan’s birthday and the captivating blue waves together.
When I came home I was watching The Waifs on youtube & noticed one of your favourite songs in the side bar. Do you remember singing Kasey Chambers’ Am I Not Pretty Enough together in the big orange car with you over & over? Here you go Bella, by popular demand from the back seat of the big orange car (Honda HRV):
You will always be pretty in my eyes. Strong, wise, caring too. Beautiful, friendly, generous too. Funny, sharing, imaginative too. You’re pretty enough, smart enough, athletic enough, articulate enough to be anything you like. So go ahead, kick like a girl!
Love Dad… XoXo.
Saturday, April 16th 2016
Hey Phi-Fai-Fo-Fum, how’s trix with you?
Missing your Dad? He’s missing you, that’s for sure! So, by now you’ve most likely started year 8 in junior high school. Whoo-hoo! Where did all those precious years go? Are you out running with the track & field team this morning?
Dad woke at a very respectable 7am and headed off to the big 24/7 WellCome supermarket in Causeway Bay. I bought some coffee & an extra Danish for you! Would you like some juice, green tea, regular tea, or perhaps a milky coffee with your pastry?
This afternoon we have a micro brewery tour, although as C has started studying French again, she’ll head to her three hour class instead. Dad will meet up with several of the first year teachers at HKIS and then we’ll make our way to the brewery in Ap Lei Chau.
Thursday your Dad had an epic run. From school in Repulse Bay I scrambled The Twins south into Stanley with Sara & Jay Monson. In Stanley I said goodbye to Jay & Sarah, then I ran back toward Repulse Bay, up and over The Pass and onward to Causeway Bay! By the time I reached home my water bottle had been dry for 5km or so and I had run a good 20km! Felt pretty good too. How’s that for your old Daddy!?
Wednesday Dad coached his Wednesday Wellness Fitness class. Every Wednesday there’s an open invitation to faculty & staff to attend Dad’s boot-camp. There’s a strong emphasis on core exercises such as planks, crunches and kick-ups. We also run the stairs, do Dad’s favorites: push-ups, lunges, squats & chin-ups. There are about 20 stations (depending on the week), so we spend 45 seconds at each station, take a 15 second break, then rotate to the next station. You should join us! Don’t laugh, it’s not as easy as you might think kiddo! Unfortunately only five teachers joined us this week L
Last Saturday we had dinner at C’s Korean colleague’s home. We were joined by two Japanese co-workers. It was a feast of mainly Korean dishes! Yum!
Love Dad… XoXo.
HOPE YOU LIKE HARRY
” ‘The thing about growing up with Fred and George,’ said Ginny thoughtfully, ‘is that you sort of start thinking anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve.’ ”
—Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Good evening Bella-Phi. You’ll never guess who’s seated beside me on the couch this evening. Two people so central to your world in your first six years of life. Two people who love you so dearly. Two people who have spent thousands of dollars on airfares over the years to see you, only to be denied access to you each and every time. Nandee and Pa have been here a week now. They arrived at 9:50pm last Thursday (April 21st). Dad went out to the airport to meet them as they climbed off the big bird in the sky and all went as planned. By the time we arrived back here in downtown Honky Town, it was around midnight… your poor Aussie grandparents must have been exhausted. Great news though Phi, Nandee looked/looks terrific! Friday, their first ever day in HK, they took some time to acclimatize and just had a slow day. Since their arrival, it’s been a bit of a blur.
Saturday morning we just took a walk through Victoria Park and marveled at the many diverse groups getting some fitness. After the park we grabbed a coffee and watched a bit of the footy in the afternoon. “Simple” and “nice” pretty much sums it up. Sunday the four of us had a look around Mong Kok and then ate at a cool izakaya (the same one we took Ralph to). It’s a funny little place with a cool street food atmosphere, plastic stools, shoulder to shoulder, loud jostling locals. Wicked! One of their speciality dishes is an okonomiyake type oyster pancake. Delicish! Both your grandparents loved it, though your greedy Dad probably ate the lion’s share. Monday night we splurged, put a collar on and went to a flash restaurant on the 38th floor of a nearby skyscraper. Dad had the Aussie lamb chops. Do you still love your Aussie lamb chops? When you were a baby, a lamb chop was so much better than a dummy/pacifier (actually, you never needed a dummy). Wednesday, Nandee & Pa came into school to help out with Math centres. The kids loved it and your Nandee was in her element doing what she loves most, teaching with all her heart.
Anyway Phi, it’s been a long week, but it’s Friday tomorrow. TGIF! Time for bed.
Love Dad, Pa, Nandee & Cc… Toro too (woof-woof, won-won!)
TRAVEL SOMEDAY PHI
“Is there any point in going across the world to eat something or buy something or watch people squatting among their ruins? Travel is a state of mind. It has nothing to do with distance or the exotic. It is almost entirely an inner experience.” – Paul Theroux, Fresh Air Fiend
Wednesday, May 4th 2016
Hey Phi Hirakawa-Morice. Your Aussie grandparents left the Orient yesterday evening. Nandee & Pa jumped on the A11 bus for the airport right in front of our building and headed back to winter in Melbourne. They will be missed and we’re not too sure when they’ll be back here in HK. Nandee & Pa aren’t getting any younger, so I pray that it’s not too much longer until we welcome you back into the Morice family.
Monday was another public holiday, so we all went out to Stanley (former British garrison post) and had a poke around there. Stanley is situated in the south of the island. It’s a post with beaches, wicked jungle hiking trails, and plenty of touristy things to do. When we arrived, it was our first choice of neighborhood, but it’s very, very expensive L We visited a shrine, enjoyed a chat & a coffee, then dined on some cheap noodles on plastic stools beneath plastic roofing. Not too shabby.
Sunday we took ‘em out to the Big Buddha. It’s the third trek for CC & Dad, so just like last time, your old man ran to the top from the metro station. It’s a steep grueling trail and as your Dad always enjoys a challenge, it’s great to race the others as they ride the cable car to the summit. Near the top I came across two water buffalo seated right in the middle of the trail. They weren’t going anywhere, so Dad had to tip toe around their mass. In the two team race, Dad gave it his best shot, but still lost to Cc, Nandee & Pa by some 20 minutes. Even so, Dad’s old legs were a bit quicker this time, at around 70 minutes, but damn hot!
How’s this sound for Dad’s Fourth (next visit) time to the summit of the Big Buddah, let’s run it shoulder to shoulder Phi. I told Cc I can’t go up there again, BUT, if you were going to join your Dad… WELL! You and me kiddo… hope I can keep up!
Love Dad… LOVE running… WE were born to run! XoXo…
AUSTRALIA – IT’S YOUR HOME TOO PHI
“There’s no place like home.” – Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz
Tuesday, May 10th 2016
How’s things in Saitama tonight? It’s been a wet & windy day in the Orient! This morning we had a “yellow” then “red” rain warning. Fortunately Dad leaves early, so at 6.25am it was only threatening to drop sheets of water. In almost perfect timing, as I walked into school around 6.50am the heavens above opened. The thick sheets of rain were not nearly as dark, gloomy and freaky as the storm we had in April, but “WOW!” does it know how to rain here! We’ve never seen anything like it. When the storm hit last month, it was like an eclipse; so suddenly dark it was. Just as well I ran home yesterday! The trails would have been waterfalls even though the rain had eased up by this evening.
After school Monday, Dad had a tax information meeting out at the Tai Tam HKIS campus, so I took the opportunity to run home from there. It’s a great run that winds its way around a large reservoir, then up a 3km climb where from the top, downtown Hong Kong comes into view. My guess is that it is around 12km door-to-door; Dad came home all sweaty in just under an hour. Pushed myself going up the hill, so Dad was a bit tired last night, I even missed Game of Thrones for the second night in a row! It starts at 9pm, which is around the time that your Dad is typically thinking about brushing his teeth, grabbing his book and heading to bed. Not to worry, season 6, episode 3 is on again tonight at 9pm on HBO Signature… the beauty of cable TV I guess.
Your dear Nandee and Pa have well and truly gone from our small home. We Skyped Nandee for Mother’s Day Sunday. All the gang was up at Croydon to celebrate the matriarch’s grand day. Your cousins seemed to be having a grand time running amok on the trampoline. Cc & Dad walked into Central Piers to meet Janet and her dog Salmon who had come across on the ferry from Lamma Island. We met Salmon and Janet at the dog quarantine centre. Janet had discovered a hobbling and near death Salmon in Thailand, nursed him back to health, and brought him to Hong Kong to live with her. We jumped in a taxi with both dogs and went to the hip High Street at the far end of Mid Levels for some tasty fish & chips and a glass of white wine in the sun. You would have loved the company, the fried fish and the fun banter. The yummy fish ‘n’ chips brought back a few memories from our days returning from Shimoda when we would stop for our own fish & chips with Allen & Brenda, Phil & Bonnie, John & Kiri & all the gang.
Last week was Teacher Appreciation Week. YEAH! All week there were special breakfasts, Greek lunches, book vouchers, a bottle of wine and some lovely cards from students and parents alike. Dad was lucky enough to receive a Starbuck’s voucher from Helen, my awesome Korean student. So both Saturday & Sunday morning I went along for my complimentary coffee and made a start on reports. Cc joined me Sunday morning for her regular double espresso, but the A/C in public places in HK is freezing, so she only lasted 15 minutes before her frosty nose started to dribble. Dad sensibly took along a jacket both days, so he got a good 90 minutes of report writing done without succumbing to too much frostbite.
Go with care Ophelia. Hope we see you soon… I’ll try once again this summer to visit you. Wish me luck! XoXo.
“Things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end, if not always in the way we expect.”
—Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Wednesday, May 18th 2016
Hey Phi. Stories like our story are becoming more and more acknowledged. It’s sad and somehow strangely comforting that we’re not alone. Last week on the ABC Australia program, Insight they featured children like you. There were four adults on the panel, each of whom was abducted as a child by one parent and not allowed to see the other parent. Tuesday morning as I went to school on the bus I couldn’t block you from my mind. I gazed at the sea and the tears just flowed. I miss you Phi. More than ever. Here’s the link Phi:
Here’s another tragic story that both you and I can relate to:
“As I read, or at least I tried to read, a story on the Buzzfeed Japan website during May (2016) about a Mr. Watanabe, a Japanese father who regained custody of his daughter after a six-year court battle throughout most of which he and his daughter were prevented from knowing and seeing each other. I am aware, as are all parents of Japan’s kidnapped children, of the importance of Mr Watanabe’s case. I’ve known of it for years. It was, I think, Mr. Watanabe who brought my case, and my blog posts about it to the attention of an American left behind parent; and from that moment, I came to know about many more parents and their difficulties, courtesy of Japan. I am grateful to him for this and more. Through speaking up and listening in this way, I gradually came to know the conditions under which Japanese family courts prevail against and permanently deny the rights of children to know their own parents. Through court and police actions, denial of parental relations is continually reinforced by the force of law in Japanese society. In time, I gradually learned of the incapacity of the Japanese people to impress upon a state over which they do not have control, that it is impinging on them in the worst, most pathological sort of way by destroying so many of their parent-child relationships.
[I am the father of a son, born and raised until he was nearly 5 years old, in the United States. His mother is Japanese, a professional, who made numerous back and forth trips to Japan with him throughout each year so that he could fully know his Japanese family. These trips took place two to four or so times per year. The home he knew, however, was here in New York with his mother and me.]
In 2010, just as with Mr Watanabe, my son’s mother abducted him. She flew him to Japan, and I have not seen him or had news of him since. This is because the Japanese and U.S. governments have agreed to allow child abductions to remain irrevocable, to go unpunished, and to remain impossible to defend against. Given the very gradually declining influence of the U.S. in world affairs, this is one of the most successfully achieved U.S. policy objectives with regard to Japan. The protection of child abductors from having to return the children they abduct.
As a result, my son no longer knows me, his now tragic, middle-aged father. His life was ruptured, and mine shattered. There are three million children in Japan who have no ongoing relationship that is meaningful with one half of their divorced parents’ families. They do not know their own fathers… and this is condoned and encouraged by the Japanese law, with the unqualified support of the United States. The U.S. stations 50,000 heavily armed troops in 87 locations on ostensibly Japanese territory in order to ensure that Japanese power structures and decision-making processes never change. Attempts at reform, at negotiating the removal of these occupying forces from Japan, at reconstituting Japan as an authentic democracy with a state that is responsive to and protective of its people, have been frowned upon and successfully thwarted.
I am writing this again because this tragic, life-destroying circumstance affects people worldwide who are guilty of no crime other than having loved and married a Japanese person who because of the material circumstances just touched on, felt entitled to take complete control of a child’s life, and damage it beyond repair. The only thing that will change this is if there is a tremendous outpouring of friction and protest from Japanese people that says loudly and clearly to the State that is in the wrong, that the children must have their family ties preserved, and that the children should not be the victims of the childish and selfish wants of an adult parent who does not know any better, or who has been well-taught to disavow the misery sewn by her actions.
Mr. Watanabe’s case is important for him and his daughter. It includes a recommendation that mother have about a third of the days of each year to spend with her daughter, despite her having prevented her from knowing her father for six, long years of struggle. This young girl will now have the privilege, acknowledged as rightful of children in every other country in the world, of knowing both of her parents. And her mother will have a privilege many in Japan do not; that of learning what it means to love and to share the love of a child with another person that child loves, despite her having acted upon a beastly and selfish desire to exercise control and exclude her daughter’s family from her life. She will have – at the very least – the opportunity to learn appreciation for that of which she deprived her daughter. She will have an opportunity to gain an understanding of the interconnectedness, empathy, collaboration and cooperation that are at the root of thriving life. As a result, her daughter will have a far higher likelihood to find happiness and a full, unbroken identity. That is a privilege, it turns out.
Mr. Watanabe, whose success is to be applauded, and who has worked sincerely to spread this success to others, hails from a privileged family, with levels of support high in the government of Japan. Japan is a state ruled by an oligarchy, a circle of patronage and exclusivity, passed down among a privileged few. It should be remembered then, that to change the circumstances of Japanese children more broadly would require that this court case be regarded as a prelude, and not as a conclusion of great significance. For one parent to regain custody after years of maddening struggle does nothing to alter the ugly reality of hundreds of thousands of abducted children who now live in Japan. Neither does it alter the circumstance of thousands of children who were not born in Japan, nor were they being raised in Japan, but whose parent used the power of the Japanese state to carry out a Hitlerian objective: to deprive ordinary, guiltless persons of their fundamental rights by bringing them over the border of one state to another in which their rights could be disposed of. The child, in all of these cases, is treated not as a person, but as an object whose fate is decided without the protection of his family, which is excluded by law. Like other commodities and objects of property law, the child in this circumstance has no inherent rights, and in being brought to Japan is therefore brought into a condition of semi-statelessness: a non-protective environment where he has fewer privileges than a tree, a cart full of fish, or a piece of equipment. This removal to a non-protective environment is a criminal enterprise that the Japanese press, the foreign press, and the governments of Japan and the United States (and countless others) are loath to discuss openly because it is ugly, and because it reflects so poorly on the governments and private interests involved, those of the perpetrators- who are Japanese – and their partners abroad, who are “interested parties” that brush the stories of our kids under the rug for a handful of gold pieces.*
I beg whoever is out there to cover our stories, and urge anyone with access to the press to do so as well. I have attempted to discuss aspects of this now for 6 years. I love my son; and I want my relationship with him restored. He and I are victims of a severe, onerous crime. And it is up to the people of Japan, the United States, and all persons who love children, to alter these circumstances.”
Monday, May 23rd 2016
Do you know what next week brings? Just another birthday without you… I miss you kiddo! I wonder if you know Dad will be turning 48, May 31st 2016. Forty-eight… OUCH! What’s my thirteen-year old teenager thinking? It’s been too long since we’ve helped each other blow candles out…
Oh, I miss you. The days go by, weeks, months, and before we know it another year slips by without us seeing each other. Something is not right. How can two people who love each other so much be separated all this time? When can we blow out candles together again?
SORRY I haven’t written for some time. Not much to report to be honest. The past three consecutive weekends I’ve been writing reports. Prior to this weekend, I found myself in a Causeway Bay Starbucks both Saturday & Sunday morning writing reports. But this weekend my gift vouchers at Starbucks had run out, so I set up my report writing at home. Pretty much all weekend I wrote reports and checked assessments and anecdotal records on my students. I’m done now, so I can sit down and write to you.
Late Sunday afternoon we took Toro for a walk down to the Wan Chai pier area. Summer has arrived, hot & humid even at 6pm. When we arrived home Dad made lasagna and C & Dad shared a beer.
It’s 4.48pm now, and a little later I’ll run back to home from the Repulse Bay campus. Tonight it’s another Game of Thrones episode. I hope it features my favorite Aria.
Just finished a cool book, Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper. One of my kids recommended it. I think you would like it.
Love, love, and LOVE again… Dad… XoXo…
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK:
My teacher thought I was smarter than I was, so I was!
Tuesday, May 31st 2016
Hey Gorgeous, thanks for thinking of me today. It was a nice birthday… FORTY-EIGHT! Cc gave me a lovely card and two cool summer casual shirts. Tonight we’ll celebrate with a steak and a bottle of red at a steak house in Mid Levels. Cc is looking even more beautiful than when we met in 2009 as she readies herself for our dinner date.
At school, my glorious kidlets organized a b’day party, with not one but three birthday cakes!!! My colleagues also organized a small gathering during lunch recess; so it has been a special day for your Dad.
In more good news it looks like we’ll be hosting a dog from August at the Upper Elementary Campus. What a grand idea! The lab will work with our kids for 12 months then head off to train as a seeing-eye-dog. I’m looking forward to getting my kids to read to our new class member. In other news, Dad is keen to get my class involved with children with special needs. I have a contact who seems interested in getting her children together. More news coming your way soon.
Thursday, June 9th 2016
Hello Possum. Whoo-hoo! The academic year for Dad is almost at a close. One year, where did that go? 11 months ago next week Cc & Dad arrived in Hong Kong via Japan from Cairo. Another adventure started. An ancient culture & people to explore and embrace. Life is good, as good as it can be without you. I miss you Phi, especially on days like today because in my imagination, days like today, given a principled result from the Family Court of Japan, I feel you would be beside me helping me up at school. It’s in your nature to be helpful, willing and generous. Caring & sharing in spirit, that’s you kidlet!
It’s a public holiday today in Hong Kong, even so Dad arrived at school around 6.30am. I could have done with your help tidying up my classroom (I’m moving classrooms next year), filing reports, taking displays down, and ticking off around one hundred other jobs that needed doing.
Last Saturday the mighty G4 team led by Hyun had an amazing lunch at the W Kitchen across the bay in Kowloon. The food was delectable; the only thing missing was freshly shucked oysters. All the gals headed into Wan Chai, so Stan & Sean came back with Dad to watch a little Aussie footy later in the afternoon. Gotta love that!
I love you Phi… missing you… XoXo.
“It might be said that a great unstated reason for travel is to find places that exemplify where one has been happiest. Looking for idealised versions of home—indeed, looking for the perfect memory.” – Paul Theroux, Fresh Air Fiend
Friday, June 17th 2016
Hey Phi, I’m on the A11 City Flyer bus headed to the international terminal here in HK. CC is on her way to drop off Toro at the Pooch Hotel. From HK we’ll fly to Narita and hopefully some time in the next few days, I’ll actually see you. Wouldn’t that be grand!? I have a cool light blue GAP top (that I purchased for you yesterday), a bracelet, and a card that I really hope you get the opportunity and choice to read. I miss you kiddo!
Yesterday was my last day of my first year teaching at HKIS. It was a wondrous year, surrounded by extremely supportive & collaborative colleagues, a super bunch of fourth graders and an exceptional setting. Being our last day, and no kidlets, I skipped my morning shave and ran into school. I thought of you often, especially as I chugged the horrid hills in the merciless humidity. Even at 6.30am as I jogged by Deep Water Bay the sign read 29 degrees. By the time I made it to school, my colleague and good friend Stan wondered if I had just had a swim; I was rather sweaty! Perfect Dad moment for a hug Bella! Actually as I arrived in Repulse Bay, I couldn’t refuse taking my shoes & sox off and walking the length of the beach with my sweaty feet being washed over by the morning waves. Bliss.
Last weekend was fairly nondescript, although we did create two magnificent homemade pizzas. It would have been smashing to roll the dough and add the three cheeses & toppings together. They were sweet times we stood side-by-side together and created our pizzas. You standing tall on your bench, concentration and delight all over your bubbly hungry face.
Passed through immigration now. Cc found a wonderful book of sketches (for you) depicting Hong Kong in the book shop, so now that book will join your cool summer top as a present. Hoping to give them to you next week. Kamiyamaguchi Junior High School has an Open Week for parents and other interested parties, so that, and the court order stating that we are within our rights to see each other at school events should prove no problems. In theory. But, we can never guess what your mother’s family will do to thwart access. I wonder if the police will accuse me of attempted kidnapping again…
“O public road, you express me better than I can express myself.” – Walt Whitman
Wednesday, June 22nd 2016 (The day before C’s birthday)
Hi Ophelia. It’s 2.04pm and Dad is on his way back to Chiba. I’m on a train somewhere between Tokorozawa and Hibarigaoka. I’ve just been to Kamiyamaguchi Junior High School for the second time today. I feel broken. My head aches from thinking too much. I want to cry, but I cannot. A piece of my heart was taken today. Another piece. I’m not sure I can talk. If I talk, I might cry. I can’t cry.
This morning I visited your school. It’s supposed to be Open Week, or in Japanese Gakko Koukai Shuukan. Earlier this morning around 9am I met a young teacher by the office and introduced myself. She told me to come back at 1.20pm because there would be a 20 minute window after cleaning where we could met & chat. I was too nervous about what your mother would do when she discovered I was at your school. I returned to Kotesashi and nursed a coffee, hoping, praying that the school wouldn’t contact her. It was a long wait. Alone. When I finally returned the school gates were closed. The head teacher (Kyoto sensei) and the team leader of year 8 were waiting. Waiting for me. I half expected police, but there were no officers to feed off your mother’s fears. The teachers representing your school were polite. I was polite. It was plain to see, I could not enter the school. They told me that the gift that I had passed to the young teacher this morning was taken by your grandmother. Maybe you’ll receive the adorable light blue & white top, the book and the bracelet with your name. Maybe it’s been disposed of already.
Life moves on. Friday we’ll meet your old friend Nicola Hamer, Saturday we’ll enjoy a glass of wine with our great mate, Milton, and early Sunday morning Cc & Dad fly for Kabira, Ishigaki. Relax we will.
STRENGTH – WE BOTH NEED IT
“Stuff your eyes with wonder,” he said, “live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.” – Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
Thursday, June 23rd 2016
Hi Phi. Here’s a letter I penned to your Kyoto Sensei:
Thank you for listening and not passing judgment when we met Wednesday, June 22nd 2016. I respect your calming influence and your role in this situation.
I am writing to you because I need your help in guiding my daughter. I firmly believe that a good teacher affects eternity, as such, she/he enables and empowers truth, integrity and spirit. A good teacher listens, motivates and always puts the interests of the child first. As a teacher I also believe that:
- Diversity enriches community and strengthens society.
- Learning thrives in the presence of shared high expectations and mutually respectful relationships.
- Integrity is essential to trust and credibility.
- Together, parents, teachers and students create the conditions for children’s success and a healthy lifestyle, and that includes a child’s mental wellbeing.
Ophelia needs a third party to listen to her heart; she cannot speak freely with her family; our bias is obvious. From afar, Ophelia may seem fine, however, there is no denying that she carries many unanswered questions in her heart. She needs the support and trust of someone outside the family whom she respects.
With this letter, I am enclosing some documents meant for your eyes only. You will see that according to Japan’s High Court and Family Court, there is no reason to deny me access to my daughter. Contrary to what you may have been told by Ophelia’s mother, in fact as documented, the court strongly urges Ms. Ishijima to continue visitation, to keep me informed of school events and update me with Ophelia’s school reports. The truth of the matter is that for almost five years she has aggressively denied me any access to my daughter.
With your own eyes I feel you understand the depth of my love for Ophelia. You witnessed the pain etched into my heart; but my pain must be ignored. It is my daughter I pray that you may guide.
Ophelia was once a happy bilingual, bicultural child, loved equally by two families. She was confident and supported in her identity. Since my family and I have been alienated from her life, the truth of her identity and her own feelings have been suppressed. The truth of what happened and what passed through the courts has also been smothered.
There is no denying the love Ophelia’s Japanese family have for her; it should not, however, drown her identity. Ophelia needs to feel safe and not threatened by the love her Australian family have for her. Her cousins still talk about her, her grandparents still send presents, and I still write to her weekly:
Please keep a special eye on my daughter. Be the gentle, caring, supportive listener I cannot.
I look forward to meeting you under better circumstances in the near future.
Thursday, June 30th 2016
Evening Phi. We just returned from Ishigaki, Japan. It’s been a busy evening as we’ve just been Skyping with our mate, Bonnie who is set to head to Cairo American College. I hope CAC is a good match for Bon, Phil, May & Cate. 72 minutes aboard Skype; there was much to tell.
We had a delightful time roaming Ishigaki searching out snorkeling spots. Cc & Dad stayed in an apartment in Kabira, on the north-west side of the island. We rented a car and drove here, there & everywhere in search of the perfect snorkeling location. We also took a 50 minute ferry ride out to one of the smaller islands, Hatoma. It was remote, almost shadeless, but as we spent most of the day in the water at three different snorkeling locations, the heat wasn’t too much of a factor. Plenty of sunscreen! Dad spotted two highly venomous black & white sea snakes L Scary! The first sea snake seemed to follow me and gave me quite a scare. I had to flip over and turn on the freestyle jets to escape. The second snake fortunately ignored Big Red’s presence. Together we enjoyed the sashimi and on the last day we feasted on Ishigaki beef J
Oh, and last Friday we caught up with your old pal, Nicola Hamer. Do you remember all the fun you once had with Nic? Do you recall the infamous hamster Xmas?! She remembered you. Nic came out to our Tokyo pad to help with the gardening. What a gem!
Look what I found on my previous lawyer. Mikiko Otani is/was the high profile lawyer who seemed so interested in our case, but as the court sessions wore on, I wondered if she was really only serving her own ambitious interests.
Lawyer from Osaka first Japanese to join U.N. child rights panel
NEW YORK – Lawyer Mikiko Otani on Thursday became the first Japanese independent expert to be elected to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child. Otani, 51, and an Ethiopian candidate both garnered 152 votes, the highest among the nine experts elected to the committee. “I think this is a result of trust in and expectation for Japan, rather than me. I want to try my best to help protect the human rights of children around the world,” she told Kyodo News.
Otani is an expert on international human rights law. She served as an alternate representative of the Japanese delegation to the U.N. General Assembly’s Third Committee on human rights in 2005 and 2006. A native of Hirakata, Osaka Prefecture, Otani graduated from the Faculty of Law of Tokyo’s Sophia University in 1987. She earned a master’s of international affairs degree at Columbia University in 1999.
The committee, which monitors implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by its member states, is comprised of 18 individuals who serve four-year terms. Half of the group’s term will expire next Feb. 28. Otani and the other eight new members will serve beginning next March through 2021.
Your call… see you one day soon Ophelia… XoXo…
“He who does not travel does not know the value of men.” – Moorish proverb