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This is the first story I have written about a mother and son relationship. I wanted to set it to a more serious tone as I felt there has been too much of the same stuff. This is a slow build to what I promise will be a memorable and satisfying conclusion.
I have also used some Japanese terms as the story takes place in Japan and are of Japanese descent. I felt this made the story more realistic. They are simple words and most will know what they mean without having to google the translation. But here’s one for you, okasan means mother.
Thank you for reading my story.
“Would you like another beer, sir?” The attendant asked.
“Yes, please,” Brandon replied, “thank you.”
The attendant cracked open the can and poured it into a plastic cup.
“Enjoy!” she said before moving on to the next aisle.
Brandon looked out the window as he sipped on his beer. In a few hours, he would be in Japan. Not only that, but he would be meeting his birth mother for the first time. He had always wondered what she was like, ever since he was a young boy.
He was born in Japan. His father was stationed in Okinawa, and that’s where he met his mother. His father rarely ever talked about her. Brandon didn’t know much about her. He knew that her name was Reiko, and that she had fallen in love with his father while they were both very young. She was only 19 when she gave birth to him. He also knew that they lived together with his maternal grandparents as well till the age of 4.
However, something happened and his father took him away. They left Japan shortly after and returned to the US. His father eventually remarried and he never saw or heard from his mother again. Brandon never knew the reason why they left. Whenever he pressed his father for answers, he would simply leave the room. Now that his father had passed, he finally decided to get to the truth and return to the place he once called home.
By the end, the cancer had eaten away at his father so bad, that he lost almost half his weight. Seeing him go from a tough military man to someone who could no longer even go to the bathroom on his own, it really affected Brandon. It was also one of the reasons he knew he had to find his mother. It was difficult at first to even know where to start as he had no idea where she could be, it’s been 15 years since they left Japan. There were no letters or phone numbers to call, no relatives to ask. That was until he cleaned out his father’s things and found a notebook. The notebook contained the phone numbers of some of his dad’s old buddies from the military. He was going to call them to let them know about his dad passing, but he figured he might give it shot and ask them if they had any information on his mother, where she may have worked or lived. It was the only chance he had.
After a few calls, he finally got somewhere. He found out that his father had met his mother at a local restaurant where she worked. It was called Charlie’s, a local joint where American soldiers frequented. He also found out she lived in a small town just north of the restaurant but no known address. It was a long shot if she would still be there, but it was better than nothing. With the information in hand, he booked a flight to Okinawa. Brandon told his stepmother, Debbie, that he would be leaving that summer before college to visit Japan with some of the money his father had left him. At first she was upset he was putting off school for a year, but when he told her the reason was to find his biological mother, she supported him. It was hard leaving everything behind and so suddenly, but he knew this was the time to do this.
The taxi pulled up to the hotel Brandon would be staying at. The driver had already gotten out of the car to get his luggage. He still wasn’t used to the level of hospitality here. It was so different than back home.
“Arigato,” Brandon said as he handed the driver money for the fare.
The driver bowed and said arigato back as he accepted the money. Brandon then decided to reach in and grab a few more yen for a tip.
“Ahhh, no no no. Can’t accept,” The driver said as he shook his head and handed the tip back to Brandon, “This enough. Arigato.”
The driver shook his hand and made his way back to the taxi. He smiled and waved to him as he drove off. Brandon then remembered about tipping in Japan and how it’s not the norm here. He chuckled and waved back as the small taxi began to fade away into the night.
By the time he had a bite to eat, showered, and laid down on the bed, it was past midnight. Brandon was exhausted. This was his first time travelling on his own. Halfway across the world. Very far from his home in Kansas. He wondered what his friends were up to. Grabbing his phone, he logged into Facebook.
“Hmmm, good time for a photo update.” He said to himself as he took a selfie in bed.
Hey everyone! Landed in Japan a few maltepe escort hours ago. Such a beautiful country! Can’t wait to do some exploring tomorrow! But first, sleep!
Within a few minutes, the likes and comments started pouring in. Brandon had always been somewhat of a popular guy. He was looking forward to college and a part of him was sad he wouldn’t be able to experience things for the first time with his friends. He was still a virgin. He was hoping to change that at college. He was a good looking guy. And he knew girls were into him for his “Hapa good looks” as he so often heard. He had his dad’s bone structure and height, standing over 6 feet tall. However, he was rather thin. He never could keep on any weight, or muscles for that matter. His dad always said he got that part from his mother. That seemed to be the only time he talked about her.
He looked back at his post and it now had over 100 likes. He wondered if any of the girls who liked his selfie would have slept with him. Maybe he’ll find a nice Japanese girl. He read about how Japanese girls were into foreign guys. But he wasn’t a gaijin. He clearly looked more Asian than Caucasian. Would that hurt his chances? He put the phone down and reached over into his bag. He took out a photo he had found in his dad’s office the day he cleaned it out. It was a picture of him as a baby, his dad and his mother. They were standing in front of what must’ve been his grandparents house. His mother was holding him. She looked happy. Brandon remembered how surprised he was to see how his mother looked like. He couldn’t remember her face anymore as he grew older. This picture was the first time he had seen her since he was a child. She was striking. Her features were sharp, and her body hugged the kimono she wore. It was amazing how well she was able to keep her figure as she had just given birth to him. She was also rather busty, something that he didn’t see much in other Japanese girls he saw. She had a beautiful smile as well. The one thing Brandon could remember was how she would sing him lullabies. He had faint memories of laying in bed, as the spring sun warmed the room, and his mother would be laying next to him and humming her sweet songs. It was the only thing he was able to keep with him over the years. He longed to hear her voice again. Looking back at the clock, it was now almost 1am and he had an early start tomorrow. He put the picture back and fell asleep to the memories of his mother’s lullabies.
His first stop would be at Charlie’s, the restaurant where his mom and dad had met. He googled it back home and was surprised it was still in operation. He hoped someone would recognize his parents from the photo. Taking a cab to the restaurant, it was just on the outskirts of Okinawa. After being dropped off, and this time remembering not to tip, Brandon made his way into the restaurant. He was greeted by a hostess and taken to a table. The place had seen better days. Not that it was run down by any means, but by the looks of the faded decor and furniture, it was safe to say that Charlie’s was not the go to place as it may have once been, especially considering it was lunch hour and there were barely any patrons.
“Konichiwa!” The waitress smiled and handed Brandon a menu. “What would you like to drink today?” She asked.
She spoke with a Japanese accent as most do here when speaking English. He was surprised by how well she spoke though.
“Your English is very good!” Brandon said as he gave her a thumbs up.
“Ahhh, Arigato!” She replied, blushing. “Lots of tourists come here, so I learn to speak better English.”
After finishing a quick and delicious bowl of pork ramen, Brandon decided to ask the waitress if she knew anyone who may still be working here from all those years ago. He showed her the picture of his parents and him.
“I do not know,” she replied, “But let me ask owner. She may know.”
A few moments later, she returned with the owner. An elederly lady sporting large glasses and a grey perm. She introduced herself as Miko and she has been the owner for over 2 decades. Brandon handed her the picture.
“Ah, yes. I do remember her,” she said as she pointed to his mother in the picture, Reiko. “She was very beautiful.”
“She is my mother,” Brandon replied, “I am trying to find her. Would you know where she is? Does she still work here?”
“She has not worked here in many years. Shortly after you and your father left. She was very heartbroken,” Said Miko solemnly, “But I may have her number and address somewhere in my books. I keep a record of all my employees.”
After almost an hour, Miko appeared from the back with a piece of paper in her hand and a triumphant look on her face.
“Ah ha! I find it!” She cheered.
The number was no longer in service but they had an address. It was about 20 minutes from the restaurant, in a more rural part of mecidiyeköy escort the city. Brandon thanked Miko and her staff for all their help. He instinctively tried tipping again, but Miko wouldn’t even take his money for the meal. She wished him luck, and packed some freshly baked Anpan for him. He hailed a cab, and as he left Charlie’s, he couldn’t help but feel that good things were about to happen.
The house looked exactly like it did in the picture. A traditional minka, it was grey and brown. The garden was neatly kept. A cherry tree yearning to bloom stood to the left of the house. It must’ve been beautiful during the yearly cherry blossom. There was a little red hatchback Toyota in the driveway. Someone must be home. As he approached the front door, he heard a humming coming from the backyard. The elegant voice was familiar to him. He decided to walk around back to investigate.
She was kneeling by the garden, with her back turned to him. She wore a light pink kimono and her hair was tied up neatly in a bun. She wasn’t aware he was standing a mere ten feet away from her. She continued to trim the flowers by the koi pond. The sound of her humming and the running stream trickled through the air.
Is that her? Is that my mother?
Brandon stood there, he had travelled thousands of miles to see the one woman that had been missing all his life, and now he could not muster up the words to call her. Suddenly she stood up and turned around. She was confused as to why there was a young man standing in her garden.
“K-k-konichiwa,” she stammered. She raised a hand to shield the sun from her eyes to get a better look. She still had no idea who was standing in front of her.
“Konichiwa”, Brandon said shyly. He could feel the sweat building above his brow from the nervousness, “Reiko? Is your name Reiko?”
She dropped her hand and moved closer. He could see her fully now. She has aged as it’s been almost twenty years, but she still looked youthful. He reached into his bag and grabbed the picture.
“Reiko?” He asked as he pointed to the picture.
She suddenly dropped the shears she was holding. She walked swiftly over to Brandon. She took the picture from him. Tears started to form in her eyes as she looked at Brandon. Reiko remembered her son had a distinct mole on the top right corner of his forehead. She reached up and parted his hair away, Brandon flinched slightly. And there it was, the mole as exactly as she remembered.
“Takashi? Are you my Takashi-chan?” Reiko asked as her eyes were swelling up with tears as she grasped his face.
Brandon was unsure as this was the first time he heard anyone called him Takashi. He didn’t know that he had a Japanese name.
“My name is Brandon Whitely. My father’s name was Nathan Whitely. I was born here 19 years ago and I had a mother named Reiko. Are you Reiko?” Brandon asked as he clutched onto her arms.
“It cannot be…Yes! I am Reiko! My son! My Takashi-chan.” She cried as she embraced him.
“Mom! Okasan!” Brandon shouted as he held her, tears rolling down his eyes. They sobbed as they held each other tightly, as close as possible. It took almost 20 years for this reunion. A mother and son finding each other once again.
“It was stage 4 pancreatic cancer.”
Reiko wiped away the tears as her son explained how Nathan died. Although they weren’t married and she could never forgive him for taking Brandon away, she still had love for him.
“I am glad you were by his side at the end. I shall pray for your father.”
They had settled down in the house after their emotional reunion. Reiko had prepared a small lunch for them. Brandon didn’t remember much of his grandparents house.
“They loved you with every ounce of their body,” Reiko assured him. “Everyday they prayed for your safety and health. To maybe one day they would see you again.”
Unfortunately they passed away a few years after Nathan took Brandon back to the US.
“Why didn’t you look for me, mom?” Brandon asked.
“Every day for 3 years, your grandparents and I stood outside the army base where you father used to be stationed, and we pleaded with them to let us know where he took you,” she explained, “we even went to the embassy. But since your father and I were not married, they would not help us. I still think your grandparents died of a broken heart.”
She began to weep again and Brandon reached over and placed his hand on hers.
“I’m sorry, okasan. I should have been here for you.”
“You are here now. And I am grateful.”
The tea kettle started howling and Reiko went off to make some tea.
“Your English is very good, okasan. Did you go to school for it?” Brandon asked as he took a bite of the katsudon his mother had prepared.
“Ahh, yes. Well, when I met your father, I could barely speak a word of English. But over the years I learned from him. Then when he left, I decided nişantaşı escort to take classes at the local university.” She explained as she knelt down to pour the tea. “I knew in my heart that I would see you again. And I wanted to make sure we could understand each other.”
“That very cool of you, mom.” Brandon felt funny switching back and forth between calling Reiko mom and okasan. He wasn’t sure which would be proper.
“Uh mom, should I call you mom or okasan?” He asked.
“You can call me whichever you’d like. To finally hear those words coming from you. I am so happy. My sweet boy, finally home,” She walked over, placed a hand on his cheek and then ran her hand through his hair, “What should I call you? Do you prefer Brandon? Or are you ok if I call you by your Japanese name?” She smiled.
“Whatever you want, okasan.”
Reiko then leaned down and planted a kiss on Brandon’s cheek.
After lunch, the mother and son spent the rest of the day catching up. After dinner they sat in the garden, watching the sunset together, and snacking on the red bean buns Miko had packed for them. Reiko wanted to learn more about her son. Brandon told his mother about his plans to become a veterinarian, to which she was very pleased. She then proceeded to ask him if he had anyone special waiting for him back home in Kansas.
“Aw, mom. No, there is no one waiting for me.”
“That cannot be. You are a very handsome young man. I was quite taken back when I first saw you standing in my garden. I don’t have many male visitors these days.”
“Did you ever meet anyone after dad?” Brandon asked.
“I had many suitors. Believe it or not, your mother did not look as old as she does now,” Reiko laughed, “but my heart left with your father the day he went away. So no, I did not settle with anyone.”
“You look great, mom. Really. I couldn’t believe it when I first saw you. You look way younger than my stepmom and you’re older than she is!” Brandon exclaimed.
“Awww, that is very kind of you, dear. It’s been a while since I’ve been complimented in such way.” Reiko reached over and clutched onto her son’s hand. She was truly happy for the first time in years. She could feel the loneliness slip away with every moment she was with Brandon.
“Do you know how long you will be staying for, son?” She asked.
“Well, I only budgeted for a week. Dad left me some money, but I have to go back and work if I want to go to college next year.”
Reiko’s heart sank. She was happy he was so focused on getting an education, but she was deeply saddened that he would be leaving her again. She needed more time together.
“Takashi, when your grandparents passed, they left behind some money. That money is yours. You meant everything to them. It would bring them peace if they knew it would be going to you.”
“I can’t take that, okasan,” Brandon said, “you are their only daughter. That money belongs to you.”
“And it is mine to do with as I wish. You are my son, my only blood left in this world. Everything I have is yours. All I ask is that you do what is right. Be kind, help others. You are capable of great things, Takashi. I know this in my heart. Please consider it.” His mother pleaded.
“I will, okasan. You have made me so welcome here. And now this. I don’t know how I can ever repay you.”
“You came all the way to see me. That is enough. I hope you will consider extending your stay here. There is so much I still want to share with you. So much lost time to make up.”
“Of course. I will stay for the remainder of the summer. Being here, and spending time with you, it’s the happiest I’ve been since dad died.”
“You don’t know how happy that makes me, Takashi-chan.”
She took hold of her son’s hand and they turned back to watch as the sun faded away into the night sky.
“Yeah man, I’m gonna stay for the rest of the summer.” Brandon was FaceTiming with his best friend, Henry.
“This summer ain’t gonna be the same without you, bro. How’s your mom?”
“She’s amazing. I still can’t believe I’m here with her. I’ve been dreaming about meeting her since I was a kid.”
“I’m happy for you, Bran. I know how much this means to you. Hopefully one day I can meet her.”
“Yeah, for sure. I would love to show her how life is in KC.”
“Haha. I don’t know if you’re kidding or not. Okinawa must be so much more exciting than this shithole,” Henry laughed, “Anyways, I gotta get going. I’m meeting up with Steph for dinner.”
“Alright, you sly dog. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.” Brandon joked.
“Man, shut the hell up. I’ll talk to you later, brother.”
Brandon then realized the 15 hour time difference from Okinawa to Kansas. He was still adjusting to the changes. But he slept well last night. There was something about being in the countryside. The fresh air, the sound of birds in the morning, the sounds of his mother cooking in the kitchen and the amazing smells that follow. He was finally home.
“Mom?” Brandon walked into the kitchen, but Reiko was nowhere to be found. On the table, plates of food were covered to keep them warm. A small note was left on the table:
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