I went down to visit Nana a few days before I was set to leave on a life changing trip. As I drove down the coast toward her house, I thought about all the books on missionaries I had been reading earlier that week and tried my best to choke down fear and uncertainty. This was about to be the biggest and most stretching adventure I’d ever been on, and I was terrified to step foot on that plane. I sighed deeply as I closed the car door and walked into the cozy little house that smelled of coastal air and fond memories. There was a tennis game on and pastel colored yarn was strategically scattered around her as she worked on her latest knitting masterpiece. She smiled, I smiled, we hugged and sat. We chatted about this and that, who’s up to what and the latest family news. She asked about my trip and what I would be doing, I filled her in on what I knew and I’m almost positive my eyes filled her in on all I didn’t know. She must have seen through my poorly constructed facade of confidence because she said in a very Nana-esque tone, ” You know, IIIIIII never went ANYWHERE.” Her gaze indicated that she had a deeper meaning to such a simple statement. ” Your parents…. your Mom and your Dad… they LOVE you. So Go. Go on your trip, and if you don’t like it or if it’s not working, you can allllllways come home.” With that, she nodded once with her mouth turned down resolutely, her eyes moved back to her knitting. The tennis match played softly in the background and I reclined a little deeper into her silk pillows. “I can always come home.”
Nana passed away while I was still serving as a missionary in Thailand, but those words still stick with me. Taking risks is scary… sometimes terrifying. Some people never leave their comfort zone because it’s too scary. But it’s important to start… to go… to take that risk. Because you can ALWAYS come back to the place where you can find comfort, support, and love.
The family recently gathered together (typically a once every 10 years kind of occasion for my family) to fulfill her burial wishes and to celebrate her life. Nana wished to be scattered at sea, the place where she believed she was conceived. Her parents emigrated over to America from Japan on a boat and she was born soon after their arrival. My dad, his 3 siblings, and my cousins all boarded a fantastic yacht in Newport Harbor and set sail into the deep blue Pacific. It was a meaningful time together and it was so great spending time with the family. I took my camera to document the occasion and I’m so glad I did…..
Nana, I think you’d be proud to know that I went on that trip. I even stayed for the duration, though I wanted so badly to come home when you passed. Since then, I’ve taken your words to heart in every big decision I’ve made. I’ve gone on countless international adventures since then, I met the man of my dreams and married him, and I’m working as a wedding photographer… my dream job. Thank you for your strength and encouragement on that late summer afternoon…. it’s what I needed. I miss you terribly, but I’m so thankful to have known such a woman as you.