My grandma, Sachi Takeuchi, was an amazing woman. Born and raised in Hawaii, she taught high school home economics. She raised five children and helped raise nine grandchildren. She made her own cards with flowers she pressed. She was fluent in Japanese. She made the most amazing guava jelly and guava juice. Grams taught me how to play Scrabble. She loved to spend her time outside in the yard, plying her green thumb. She used to weave lahala – mats, baskets, boxes, hats, decorative roses and hearts. For all her girl grandchildren, she made a lahala hat, decorated with roses. She was a quiet woman who didn’t speak often and I wish I had listened better when she did.
She had nine grandchildren, but she loved all of us equally – she had more than enough love to go around. She always remembered that I love mangoes and couldn’t get enough of her guava jelly and juice; she would always give my parents guava jelly to send to me. When I told her I was going to the mainland for college, she told me she knew I’d do well. When I sent her cards or letters, she’d always write back. I wrote to her to tell her about my decision to change majors and she told me she was proud and happy I found something I love to do because it’s important.
Last summer, she came to visit me in Omaha. She said she wanted to see where I’ve been living all this time, she wanted to see what kept me coming back to Omaha. She was so excited! She had come up with her sister, my Aunty Natsu, who comes to the mainland to see her daughter who lives in Ottumwa, IA. Aunty Zoe (Aunty Natsu’s daughter) drove the two grandmas from Ottumwa to Omaha to come and see me. Aunty Zoe told me that Grams was so excited she kept asking “Are we there yet?” throughout the whole trip. Grams only spent a day with me in Omaha, but I think she enjoyed it. I know I loved seeing her and having her here.
She passed away yesterday and I’m going to miss her. Two more weeks and she would have seen all her grandchildren graduate from high school and one more graduate from college. Two more weeks most of the family would be home from the mainland for the summer. Less than two months and I would have been home to visit. Life can be unfair sometimes.
For some reason, I thought she was going to live forever. I took her for granted. I hope she knows how much I love her and miss her. We will all miss her. Grams told me that “family is the most important thing. Nothing comes before family.” Take it to heart. Enjoy your families, tell them you love them.