That’s my mom, there in the picture, standing between my grandparents. And my mom’s identical twin sister at the very left.
I miss all of them dearly.
One memory of mom always brings a smile to my face.
As missionaries and expats, she and dad raised our family of six in Japan. And there were a lot of people in Japan who thought she looked an awful lot like Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Second.
This was a regular occurrence when we were out shopping or on our way to some event. Usually, it was the kids. They would be looking at her, and they would get really quiet. Then the whispering would begin.
We knew the reason for their whispering. There was likely to be some surprise and talk about the novelty of seeing Western faces in the neighborhood. But there was also that other thing.
It wasn’t hard to catch a fragment of a whisper spoken a little too loudly, some portion of “Erizabesu” (Elizabeth), or “joou sama” (The Queen).
On one occasion, a boy, maybe five or six years of age, ran out into the street, jumping up and down, pointing at mom, and screaming “Aaaah, The Queen!”
I remember his own mother grabbing his arm and pulling him back with her rather quickly, to some place out of sight, and no doubt horrified with shame and embarrassment.
Mom loved to tell the story of going to the department store Daimaru in Kyoto and being treated with great respect by the staff. The Japanese use different degrees of honorific language when addressing those of greater social status. And they were using a very honorific form of speech with her.
Of course, she suspected what was going on. So she called for the manager and spoke to him in private, questioning him.
He told her that they were making sure that they were doing everything correctly, in case she was, in fact, The Queen. She assured him that she was not, in fact, The Queen. But the manager insisted on keeping with the charade.
It is possible that he didn’t believe her. But, more than likely, he didn’t…