Thank you, Baba.

My cousin Julia, me and my Grandma at Tokyo Disneyland.

A few weeks ago, I did something really uncharacteristic of myself…I asked for prayers, good thoughts and whatever else people could spare – for my mom and my aunts.

I didn’t come out and say why for a while – mostly because it was pretty hard for me to comprehend – but so is life…and as you know, there is one certainty about life…that it GOES ON. So, thank you everyone for your prayers, good thoughts and happy karma – I think it really helped my family as they went through the process of commemorating my grandma’s (my mom’s mom) – passing.

Grandma Sumiko Zoellner, 1928 – 2012

It’s always hard to say goodbye to loved ones, but I think it hit me especially hard since I’ve been so far away from home for the past several years. The last time I was in Japan, I got the flu so I wasn’t able to visit with my grandma, since she was living in an assisted living center / hospital and I might have gotten her or the other patients sick.

When I was younger, our family spent a lot of time with my grandparents. I was born in Japan, but a few months later, we moved to South Korea – my grandparents  lived in Japan, so we were still able to visit, via a pretty short flight. I loved seeing them – especially when it was a visit that me and my mom would make back to Japan – because that meant a trip to Tokyo Disneyland 🙂

At Narita Intl Airport with my Grandma and Grandpa.

From when I was very little, we called my grandma ‘Baba’ – it’s a Japanese term for grandmother (if you make the right syllable emphasis, of course).

Baba, Mom, Jenni and me.

Unfortunately, my grandpa passed when I was 10 years old, which was devastating for the family, and for my grandma, especially. When that happened, my grandma moved into the house behind ours. We were able to see her regularly, which was nice – many summers, she also came with us on vacations.

Visiting in DC 🙂

Our family was the only one that stayed in Japan through the years, as my cousins / aunts / uncles moved on to different places. My mom stayed really busy doing her best to take care of us, as well as my grandma. I know it wasn’t easy for anyone, but that’s what you do for family. As my grandma’s health deteriorated, she had to move into the hospital.

Without going into too many more details, it was definitely tougher as the years went on. As Baba passed this Spring, I know that she is with my Grandpa now, which helps ease the sad feelings…

Grandpa and Grandma, the early years 🙂

I was so thankful for these wonderful pictures forwarded to me by my mom – it was definitely a way to remember that a life ending doesn’t have to be a sad thing – it’s a celebration of life, after all. I’ll be traveling to Hawaii at the end of June for her memorial services, where she will be laid to rest beside my grandpa at the Punchbowl National Cemetery.

Baba was a wonderful woman – she always knew how to make us smile – whether it was telling us a story, or singing us a song…cooking us something really yummy (she was a great cook!) or just telling us she was proud of us.

Me and Baba 🙂

We’ll miss you, Baba.

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25 thoughts on “Thank you, Baba.

    • Thanks for the warm thoughts, Michelle. ❤ Even though it's hard, I think it's best to try our best to celebrate the lives of those we have lost rather than mourn them.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Emily.

      Much love to you and your family as well. I know y’all have been going through a lot ❤

  1. Such a warm and affectionate tribute. I loved seeing all the pictures. Thank you. We will all miss them both forever.

  2. she sounds like she would have been a wonderful woman to know! thank you for sharing the lovely pictures and memories.

  3. Pingback: Aloha! | Shiawase Life

  4. Aloha
    First I am sorry for your loss and blesses to you and your family.
    I have filled a request for a photo of Sumiko Zoellner and William C Zoellner to their Find A Grave memorial at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific and wondered if we may use the photo of them on this memorial that you listed here of them from the early years..
    SSgt Bruce Almeida Ret USAF 1970’s-1990’s 100% Disabled Vet Honolulu Hawaii
    all.in.our.family80@gmail.com

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