An email story from a relative
I am glad I did not know the squashed rat story before my trip to Okinawa in 2008. A high school friend had a daughter, son-in-law-and three grandsons who had been missionaries on Okinawa for 25 years--and she had never visited them--although they had been asking her for years. Jo, my friend, had never traveled too far from Jacksonville, FL--but said she’d go if I went with her! I jumped at the chance. Of course, on the way to Okinawa we checked out Tokyo, Mt. Fuji, Kyoto and Osaka. Jo was not prepared for her daughter’s small cinderblock house in a neighborhood with yards filled with stacks of old boards and cars on blocks.
Their five-year-old son and his friend played in his swimming pool--a small dish tub that was kept outside to catch rainwater for the ?pool” They had cleared out a small room to give us a place to sleep. That first night my friend said from her bed--“I had no idea they were so poor. I’ve never slept on a board.”The beds had been put together--a board on some legs--and a thin mattress on top. Actually—pretty nice. Anyway--there could have been rats hiding in some of those unkempt yards, but I did not see one.
Maybe they were at the base restaurant where we once had breakfast.--arranged by an officer who attended the church led by the couple. If I’d known the rat story, I might have worried when we toured the caves where the local Japanese hid during the big battle. We visited those--plus the botanical Gardens (amazing), the Aquarium by the Sea, lots of historic Shrines, and their Memorial Garden--with museum--on the tip of the island.
MY friend had married for the second time just three months before our trip. She’d been divorced for a few years, and he was a widower. This trip was planned before they decided to marry, but he insisted she go on to see her daughter. He did not want to accompany her because his older brother had been a pilot in WWII and was killed by a Kamikaze who bombed his aircraft carrier; so he was not very fond of the Japanese. When we arrived at the Memorial we realized there was also a section for Allied soldiers killed in the Battle of Okinawa; so Jo started looking for the brother’s name---and found it!! Large print--lovely stone. We, of course took lots of photos--and when we got back to her daughter’s house, my friend called her husband in Jacksonville to report what she had seen. He cried over the phone. His family had never had any idea that their son’s name was there,
This is what stories do--they prompt those of us who listen to another’s story--to remember one of their own--loosely connected. And so, the stories can go on and on and on.