Saturday, January 31, 2009


I have a very simple but beautiful metal hair fork. It has a pink coral bead on top and is deformed from repeated efforts to make it straight. It is the only piece of hairloom I have from my maternal grandmother. Unfortunately, my hair is not made for hair forks…too straight and slippery. It has always sat quietly at the bottom of my jewelry box.

Oba-chan–my grandmother’s been gone for almost 7 years now. She was 90 years old. My last Christmas card to her arrived the day after she died. Stories I have heard of my oba-chan have always been of the tough times. She cared for my aunt who has developmental disability until her death…everyday without a break. Widowed early. Lack of nutrition during pregnancy due to the war.

The other day, a friend wore the hair fork. The first time I have ever seen anyone wear it. It seemed as though it has come to life…. I started to imagine what it may have looked like on my oba-chan. I wonder how old she was. Did she wear it on her first date with my Oji-chan? I wondered if it was a gift from someone special? When I imagined her with this beautiful hair fork, I saw her smile, not the look of worry like I remember. I saw her full of hope, not discouraged. Beautiful, not worn out. How I wish I knew her then. The happy memories that have never been told. The history which has never been written down….but worth listening to as we share a pot of tea. I wish I had asked her to tell me those stories…

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