11:  Meeting Anne’s mother

A private trip to England was a costly matter. I searched around for an inexpensive tour, and decided on a plan staying in London for only two days. Since I was taking my wife and son with me, I decided to go during the summer vacation season. On the night we arrived at London, I asked our tour conductor to make a phone call to Anne’s mother. The conductor told Anne’s mother that we would be arriving at her place around ten o’clock next morning. After the conversation was over, the conductor handed the phone to me. I was a bit embarrassed, so I could only manage a brief greeting. I heard Anne’s mother’s voice over the phone for the first time, but rather than being thrilled, I was so nervous that I do not even remember what I said.

The next morning, we got into the taxi our tour conductor had reserved for us, which was waiting in front of our hotel. From there on, we were on our own, with no one to rely on for assistance with English. The driver was a South American. Though I realized he was trying to be friendly, ever since the previous night’s conversation with Anne’s mother, I felt lost in a sea of English. I could tell from ends of his words that he was talking about his family and telling us that very strict qualifications had to be met to become a taxi driver in London, but all I could do was nod.

When we first started exchanging letters, Anne’s mother was living in London city. She eventually moved to a suburb about fifty kilometers away from the city, and I had her new address. I imagined that Anne’s grave was nearby. After a two-hour drive, we came close to the address, but the driver was not sure which house was our destination. He would ask the people walking, but we seemed to be going around in circles. Finally, we reached the house way past the time I told Anne’s mother we would get there. We had reserved the taxi for the whole day, so I asked the driver to please wait for us.

I stepped up to the house and rang the doorbell. The thought of meeting Anne’s mother made me nervous, and my legs were even shaking. The door opened. A silver-haired small woman jumped out of the house and I ran up to her too. We did not need any words. We looked into each other’s eyes, shook hands, and hugged each other again and again. My long-time wish had finally come true and I could not help crying. I had imagined a large woman, but on the contrary, Anne’s mother looked rather like a Japanese grandmother, and not an English woman. She reminded me of my own mother who had passed away when I was young, so I soon felt a sense of closeness.