I had promised Annie a walk today, so I decided to add a little challenge for all three kids. We went on a scavenger hunt… I gave them pictures on a clipboard, and then had to check off each picture as we found it.
They really got into looking for spiders…mosquitos…making a cross out of branches and a pile of stones… The butterfly at dusk was our best find! They had new eyes as we went on a very familiar route.
On the far side of the lake, there was an older woman decked out in her wide-brimmed gardening hat and gear, hacking away at her bushes. We exchanged pleasantries, and she asked where I was from. She began telling me about her son, who graduated from Oklahoma State University, and then George Washington University. She started to tell me something else, when I noticed Olivia heading up the path by herself toward a road. I excused myself, ran up the path and brought her- against her will – back with me. I returned to the conversation, and asked where her son is now. She put down her rose shears, looked out across the pond, and said, “he died two years ago of cancer.”
I felt like the wind was knocked out of me. I was at a loss for words, and it wasn’t just because the conversation was in Japanese. I wanted to offer her hope; but everything I thought of sounded wrong.
The kids were getting antsy to continue our hunt; I knew we had to move on. She said she understood. I found out her name and wondered- how can I stay in contact with her?
As we said goodbye and started walking, she called out: “Oh, by the way – do you know anyone around here who teaches English conversation classes?”
BINGO!!! I think I just met my eleventh student for my ladies’ class. Ten is our standard limit, but there are good reasons for exceptions.
I hope we can become friends. I hope she will want to know more about my hope. I, too, was given new eyes on a familiar route. Mrs. Wakao was, by far, our best find.