In the beginning of the new year, January to be specific, a young family in Massachusettes rejoiced over the birth of their new son. A second generation American, what would the future hold for this child? What hopes, what dreams, what sorrows, what ideals would manifest themselves in his life and mold him into the man he would become?
Toward the end of the year, November to be specific, half a world away on an island called Okinawa, a family grieved over the death of a sickly, old man. What would become of this old man’s legacy? Would he be remembered? Would anyone care?
The two families did not know each other and in all probability had most likely never heard of the other’s place of origin. And yet, in years to come, there would be a close, spiritual bond between the newborn male and the sickly, old man.
In more recent times, not too far back, I had the honor of meeting the old man’s grandson and great grandson in the beautiful state of New Hampshire, right next door to Massachusettes. We offered our respect to each other and shook hands. Later, in the company of a small entourage, we lifted many a glass of spirits to the resounding accompanyment of "Kampai!" Laughter and comradiere were in the air that evening. I also found out that the great grandson was attending the same college in Massachusettes where I had left my indelible mark some 25 years earlier.
It is now 1998 and in the very early part of the year I celebrated my 50th year upon this sphere, this third rock from the sun. We are now in November, and as the year comes inexorably to its climax, its impending finality, I will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the death of a sickly, old man whom I have never met but who is my kindred spirit.
I have been contemplating what would be an appropriate way to honor this 50th anniversary of an old man’s death. What could I possibly due to show respect for his life as well as his death? I will honor him by giving him back that which he has given me.
O’ Sensei, sanchin, onegai shimasu!
A student of the Uechi Ryu
Lest we forget....