Celebrating Sue and John's Birthdays

Some love stories change the world; their story made mine. 
Today is my mom's birthday. We lost her four years ago, and some days it feels like she's still here. I can still have conversations with her, still imagine what she'd have to say to me about politics, movies, and current events.

She wasn't thrilled that I chose to be a teacher, but she grew to respect my work and the profession. That's what's hard about the conversations I have with Mom in my head. She would have evolved and changed over these last four years, so by now, on the night before her daughter goes on strike, she would support me unconditionally. She would tell me to go to bed, and to take care of the kids, and of David, but mostly, to take care of myself.

Tomorrow is my Dad's birthday. He's turning 88. In Japanese culture 88 is a beiju year, extra-special. 88 is rice age, and for my father, whose middle name, Hachiro, means eighth born son, I hope this year is particularly auspicious. I hope it means fading clarity comes into focus and confusion cuts to sharpness. But until that clarity and sharpness returns, I've started imagining conversations I would have with the Dad of ten years ago about what's happening right now.

Back when their words came through more clearly...
If my Dad's memories were still clear and his wit was still sharp, he would remind me that standing up and speaking out for what is right holds the upmost importance. He would tell me about his time in Japanese internment camp and wonder why people didn't stand up, didn't do something to help. He'd say we have to do something about the terrible things that are happening right now.

I will be walking the line tomorrow with these words from my parents on my mind. I will check in with myself more than usual. Instead of thinking shikataganai, or it can't be helped as many said about the Japanese incarceration, I will be standing up and speaking out about my large classes, and the lack of a full-time nurse, and that our library is closed and outdated because we haven't had a teacher librarian in a decade. I will insist that the hedge-fund manager who is unfathomably at the helm in our district resign, and that we find someone who can truly lead our district and serve our schools, our communities, our students.

For my mom, I will take breaks and make sure my daughter has snacks and dry clothes, and I will make sure I take care of myself too.

For my dad, I will stand up and speak up for what is right.

These two days mark the beginning of the lives of two people who made me, and living my life in the their wisdom is how I honor them.

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