Monday, March 21 – The Marathon


When talking with reporter Michael Tsai for his story in today’s Honolulu Star Advertiser, I was asked a question both Yasue and I get often.
“Are you trying to get her out of there as quickly as possible?,” he asked.
No. For us, this is a marathon, not a sprint. We are not trying to get her out. We are trying to get her the things she needs to remain there for the foreseeable future.
I knew nearly 20 years ago when we married that Yasue was an only child and as such, in Japan, she would be responsible for caring for her mother and father. In late 2009 and early 2010 when Yasue’s father fell terminally ill, she spent three months in Sendai. When her mother got sick this January, there was no question that Yasue would go. There is a strict adherence to the norms of Japanese society. That is why they have reacted so orderly in the face of the devastation from the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis.

With her ailing mother and quake aftermath, we are planning on her remaining in Japan for months. Ian and I fully support her decision. She has promised us she will be careful and take good care of her mother. I have promised her that I will ensure Ian continues to do well in school, hangs out with friends and leads as normal of a teenage life as possible.

Yasue and Ian Schumaker visit a mountain shrine in northeast Japan in July 2009.

Last Thursday, a media friend sent me a release from the U.S. Embassy announcing that they were sending buses to Sendai to bring American citizens and their dependents to Tokyo. Yasue has many friends in Tokyo and could gladly stay with any of them. But only she would have a seat on the bus, her mother’s illness would prevent her from boarding. I forwarded Yasue the release even though I knew what her response would be.
Text from Yasue, 4:25 p.m.: Thanks! I wish I could go home!! Ha ha.

In many ways, our situation is similar to a military deployment. One spouse stays home while the other is far away in a place that is not as safe or comforting as home. Like the thousands of military families in Hawaii who have gone through this, we too will manage. Thankfully, we are blessed with many co-workers and friends in Hawaii and Japan alike who will help us. Do we like the separation? No. I’m sure Hawaii’s military families don’t like it either. But, they have a strong sense of honor and duty as does my wife when it comes to caring for her mother. Just because we don’t like the separation doesn’t mean we can’t find the humor in it. Besides, Ian loves my cooking. Ha ha.