Saturday, October 19, 2013

Itsuko 'Itsie' Kobayashi: a story of beauty, love and grace

It's funny the things you remember about a person.  We all hope to make an impact on the world around us, especially those we hold dear to our hearts.  So in the time I've had to reflect on my grandmother's recent passing, I find myself reflecting on a woman who had a beautiful soul, heart and mind. Creative, intelligent, happy and full of life are a few of her characteristics.

Some of my earliest memories of my grandma, Itsuko 'Itsie' Kobayashi, are of her in the kitchen. She was always creating new, tasty and healthy meals. We would eat at her house nearly every weekend, and she was always willing to teach me a few things, as well as share her yummy recipes. This Thanksgiving, I plan to make one of her favorite appetizers, Tzimmes; a Jewish sweet stew of carrots, yams, prunes, apples and spices.  I always loved that my little Japanese grandmother loved to cook cuisine from around the world.  We even had themed dinner plans that would change each year to reflect a different country's cuisine. 

Every year Grandma would have us all write down what we were thankful for on a strip of construction paper, which would be read out loud and then attached to the ever growing garland from years' past.  This year, I will start this tradition in my house.  Every friend that visits will have the opportunity to write what they are thankful for, which will be then hung in my home.  I am so thankful for the impact my grandmother has had on my life.  

Christmas was no exception to the traditions and festivities bestowed upon us by Grandma and Grandpa Kobayashi.  Together, through song, story, dance and lots of fun, our grandparents taught us beyond the ideas of Santa, but the true depth of the meaning of Christmas.  Love, compassion, sharing, giving, and caring through our Lord Jesus Christ were taught.  The message, although subtle at times, is easy to see as I reflect upon these memories as an adult. 

However important these memories are, they are not the first things that come to mind when I think of my grandmother.  Beyond all other memories, I often find myself reflecting on her days as a ballroom dancer and seamstress.  Grandma was an extremely meticulous and talented seamstress, her grandchildren greatly benefitted from her ever-growing red bag of dress up clothes!  I think of my grandparents moving swiftly across the dance floor, seemingly effortless.  The flow of her gown breathtakingly beautiful as they danced for the crowd.  

I will forever think of you as a graceful, joyful, loving and caring woman.   I pray that while you wait for us in heaven, that you have rediscovered your love of dancing, cooking and teaching.  Your life lives on through the memories, actions and hearts of your grandchildren, nieces, nephews, children and many more.