This is continued from the previous post.
The next day we all went to the hospital.
“Hello, Oto-san,” my wife said, “ how are you today?”
“Good, good.” He then turned to me. “Shane, genki des ka?” How are you?
“I’m good, Oto-san,” I said in English. I know some Japanese, but not enough to converse confidently. Despite his harsh ways, my wife’s father always treated me as though I were his son and not a son-in-law. “I have something for you.”
My wife translated and he looked at me with anticipation. I pulled a thin book from behind my back and handed it to him. He brushed some of the dirty on top away and some of the blue cover went with it.
Shigekazu froze. His breathing stopped, and except for a slight quivering of his hand, he was a statue. Then slowly he turned the pages.
“Sore wa,” this is, “sore wa,” he said. “This is my high school year book. I didn’t know we still had this,” he finished in Japanese. He turned the fragile pages like they were sheets out of a prized text. “This is me,” he pointed.
We all looked at the photo and then at my oldest son. They looked the same.
He turned more pages. “This is me,” he said. He pointed to a group of boys holding baseball gloves and bats. “I was president of the athletic club at school. This was my friend,” he pointed at a boy on the left. The pages continued to turn and he talked of his childhood in Gobo, a small fishing village, and his love of baseball.
A week ago I talked to my father-in-law on the phone. We hope when we get to Japan he’ll still be alive, but the doctor’s don’t think so. We have a new baby he’s never seen.
“Oto-san,” I said to him in broken Japanese, “I love you. Try hard. We’re coming.”
He didn’t say anything, but I could feel emotion weighing down the silence between us. I handed the phone back to my wife. She spoke for a few seconds before turning back to me.
“He said he wants to see you one last time,” she said.
As I write this I'm still in America, but I’ll have been there several days to a week when you read this. Pray for us, that all goes as well as can be expected.
This concludes the Crack of the Bat series.