Bonding with her old man

Even when we were still living in Japan and a trip to the hubs’ hometown only takes about 3 hours by car, we didn’t visit his folks frequently. I think there were plenty of reasons – the weather, the lack of things to do at his quiet hometown, the fact that I am extremely allergic to Japanese incense sticks that is constantly lighted there, or the fact that my mother in-law’s depression spirals down and my father in-law discourages us from going.

In short, Pristine isn’t so connected with that house and with the folks living there. She talks to her paternal grandparents on the phone but rarely meet them. But during our recent vacation, I can clearly see the invisible bond between them that’s so strong despite the physical distance that we have.

with grandpa

Here they are on the day we arrived. Pristine immediately warmed up to him. He excitedly ordered food to welcome us. Instantly, I forgot how to spell the word “DIET” when I saw this. To think there were only three adults (me, my husband, my FIL and Pristine) in the house.

welcome food

He adores her much, much more than how he did to his own two sons! According to their neighbors and relatives whom I have spoken to, my FIL only cared for his work and rarely spent time with his children. My husband agrees – bitterly, he told me he doesn’t have happy memories with him while growing up. Typical Japanese fathers.

with grandpa

But now, it’s different. He is more relaxed and told me secretly when my husband wasn’t around,

if I only knew how there’s so much happiness while playing with a child, I could have done better to my own, years ago.

I was touched. He had missed so much of his sons’ childhood. He wasn’t there.

at the farm

My husband and his brother aren’t that close to him. They see him as the provider, not father figure. He wasn’t home on their birthdays, got drunk in traditional neighborhood parties during New Years and was just a mere shadow who would shuttle from home to work, home to work, day in and day out.

riding the tractor

Besides working for a company during weekdays, he maintains a rice farm. He has 12 plots whom he tends to alone, using his “hi-tech toys” that he always speak of proudly to me – because he says, I’m the only one who listens. But of course, that’s because we rarely see each other. He is known to talk about his hi-tech toys over and over to whoever is available.

riding the tractor

My FIL lives alone now. His wife (my MIL) is in the hospital for the past month, battling depression. A battle she has fought for more than 10 years now (long story). I feel so sorry for her. I feel sorry that she wasn’t able to bond with her only granddaughter.


It was time to say goodbye. Pristine and his grandfather bade goodbye to each other. He promised to come visit us in Dubai – hearing that from someone who doesn’t want to get out of his comfort zone and hates travelling, that was really something.

27 thoughts on “Bonding with her old man

  1. This post really touched me. During my time working with typical Japanese company men I often wondered what kind of fathers they could be with the demands of their job so high. It’s so sad that your FIL missed out on so much joy with his own children. I hope you’ve told your own husband about what his father said, they may not be close but he couldn’t help but be touched by his father’s words and regret.

    PS What happened to P’s face?
    PPS Oh my god that food looks good.

    .-= Robin´s last blog ..Loons =-.


    • Yes, I’ve told my husband and his brother about the secret regrets of their father. I am close to my FIL than the two of them…maybe because I met him later in his life when he is more stable and had time for the things that really matter (family).

      PS Nothing wrong with P’s forehead. She found a cold patch to be placed in the forehead for fever and played with it.


  2. That seems to be the story a lot with many fathers and their families…they were never around for their own children, and once grandchildren come around they begin to realize that.

    What a touching story. But really, who wouldn’t be enchanted with Pristine? She adorable!

    It’s very sad about your MIL…I do feel for people trapped in depression.

    And that food….oh I am so hungry now for good Japanese food.
    .-= Jacki´s last blog ..What happens when Peter watches the Food Network. =-.


  3. So sad. We can only hope that your FIL will have a better relationship with his sons now that they are grown up. If they’ll try, it’s not too late for their father and son relationship to flourish.
    It’s amazing how little adorable little kids can melt grandpa’s heart.
    Extend my warmest regards to your MIL.
    .-= Charlotte (Life’s a Charm)´s last blog ..The Principal?s Office =-.


  4. such sweet pictures! i’m glad that pristine got to spend such good quality time with her grandfather. it’s such a shame that some men get so caught up in being the “provider” that they lose out on time with their own children, and don’t realize til they’re older how important it is to have some closeness, too.
    .-= JuliaA´s last blog ..latest giveaways =-.


  5. I’m sorry your MIL was in the hospital and you didn’t get to be with her too. What a sad situation all around. But it looks like Pristine and your FIL did have a wonderful time! I hope you did too, in spite of the incense! 😉
    .-= Krista´s last blog ..Book: Watch Over Me =-.


  6. Did I miss something? What happened to her head? lol. Thats a big bandaid!
    I just loved loved loved this post! Very very nice and heart warming!

    OH! Saw Dubai on tv last night…one of the cities on the Amazing Race reality show. Thought of U

    .-= sheila´s last blog ..Turning over a new leaf =-.


  7. That’s so sweet-I actually hear parents not being their for their kids, but having an amazing bond with their grandkids quite a lot. I wonder why that is?
    It’s wonderful that they have that bond though. I would have liked to know both sets of my grandparents better like that.
    And as always, stunning pictures!
    .-= Kayla´s last blog ..The Fun Theory =-.


  8. ?if I only knew how there?s so much happiness while playing with a child, I could have done better to my own, years ago.?

    I was just reading this part and I couldn’t help crying. From your photos of him and your daughter, I can see how frail and how old he is now. I feel for him and his regret with his own kids.

    I’m not that close to my father but I want my little boy to grow knowing him more and getting closer. *sigh* Naiiyak talaga ko…
    .-= Francesca Ivy´s last blog ..My Little Book Lover =-.


  9. lovely photos. pristine is a really sweet kid. i’m thinking she cried when you left grandpa and sure, grandpa was feeling empty to be left all alone again after having a real good time with you guys. it’s so sad that you weren’t able to see MIL. she missed a lot. maybe if she hadn’t gone to the hospital she’d feel ok just by being with all of you (with p especially). medicines doesn’t always help. happiness might have helped.

    and yeah, i hope that parents would realize that being a good provider does not equate to being a good parent. if you mess with being a parent for being busy with being a provider, you might not be able to undo things. it can have a very negative effect on the children and sure, the parent is gonna be filled with regrets. we couldn’t turn back time. i guess this needs conscious commitment to some.

    hey, have you packed a kilo of japanese rice? i miss that! hehehe… and of course, how can i forget… the foods look so yum yum. hungry here.
    .-= rose´s last blog ..we?re looking for a baby name =-.


  10. I’m so touched with this blog. It’s not too late to revisit and build a relationship. I hope a chance for your FIL and hubby will come soon… I love happy endings!

    Your blog definitely made me realize (I’m sure others agree) of a bond in my life that’s neglected.


  11. Those have been my favorite photos of your trip yet! The countryside is so beautiful… but even that doesn’t compare to your daughter with her beloved grandfather. Isn’t it amazing how those bonds don’t need much tending? There’s just some type of innate connection… love it. Maybe you can ask someone to give your mother-in-law a few copies of these priceless memories…


  12. One of life’s hardest lessons ; creating the balance between work and fun. Enjoying your child now, right here and now. It’s wonderful for Pristine that FIL has learned the lesson, she can benefit from the past.
    It’s amazing how the picture of them hugging clearly shows his love for her. He’s not just hugging her; he’s embracing her. What a beautiful lesson and story , thank you Grace. You certainly know how to tell a story.
    .-= mannequin´s last blog ..Remember When #4 =-.


  13. I really enjoyed seeing the photos of Pristine and her grandpa. I had a wonderful and special relationship with my grandparents and now I have that same relationship with my grandson 🙂 It’s so hard as parents to remember that time is precious and the kids are grown and gone before you know it. As grandparents we seem to understand that better.
    .-= Cindy B. in Montana…now in Oklahoma´s last blog ..Win Helmar Adhesives at Tracy Weinzapfel Studios =-.


  14. Such a lovely post, Grace… Thank you for sharing such personal messages, and I am sure it is not only because you rarely visit that he feels comfortable to speak with you – you have such a beautiful, big heart, and I am sure he knows that. He can see it in Pristine and that is why he is able to bond with her and with you.
    I am glad that your MIL is getting the help she needs for her depression, as one who suffers from chronic depression, it can be a lifelong struggle, and you can miss out on a lot of things. You truly need to get medical help, happiness with family cannot “cure” depression.
    I love the patch on Pristine’s head – she is so funny, they really do feel good on your head, I use them when I have migraines.
    Thanks, again for a beautiful (as usual) post. Can’t wait to see more of Japan…. and I really hope granddad comes to see you in Japan, I am sure it will do wonders for his relationship with your hubby!
    .-= Lorie Shewbridge´s last blog ..Outnumbered 3 to 1: Birthday Bash – Review & Giveaway =-.


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