Saturday, October 10, 2009

Day Thirty-three - UNBELIEVABLE!!

Just got back from three glorious hours at the beach. Temperature in the mid-eighties. Slight breeze, blue sky feathered with soft white clouds. The water was so calm and clear that I saw a school of small fish swimming around my feet, about 300 or so. There was a huge jelly-fish stranded on the beach about 6-7 inches in diameter. Polly, my dog, and I got in the water and waded a bit. The water was still warm as we have yet to have any really cold days. We walked out on Sand Island for about 45 minutes and I read a completely meaningless detective novel for complete relaxation. Got a slight fall tan going which is nice.

I’m eating a boring bowl of oatmeal made with water because I’m too lazy to go to the store. I’ll do that later for dinner, after I dive into some more correspondence.

The next email I have is dated August 11, 2003. Michele was in the process of trying to communicate with the young woman who sent the letter asking for monetary help for Mr. J. Evidently, after I had corresponded with her, so had multiple other people including a faculty member who chastised her for sending out the request. Isn’t that funny? Even a faculty member? Can you see how easily he hid his true nature from people. What’s so interesting about all this is that these chastisements came before I “officially” contacted the school. So, another person was hurt and put in a bad position because of his manipulation of her. I feel so bad for her because now her experiences in Japan are tainted by this horrible problem that NO BODY wanted to address.

It was after this correspondence from Michele that we both started talking about sending out a letter to reach out to other people who had been molested by him. The next email I received from Michele began with, “Lord have mercy, this is probably one of the hardest letters I have written.”

You can only imagine how hard it was. We both were soon to open ourselves up for a ride of our lives. I began talking with a personal friend and advisor about all of this. My husband also gave me wise and sound advice.

The questions my friend/advisor asked me were:
1. How do we proceed in finding out who else is out there as a “victim” (I hate that word) of his abuse?
2. What is our intention in finding them?
3. How can we keep Jack from hearing about it and thus keep him from going into hiding?
4. What is the best way to proceed with regard to Jack?
5. What is the best way to proceed with regard to the school?

We talked about these things and both agreed that we needed to start by contacting a limited number of people initially. We sent out a generic letter (I think it is the one I posted in an earlier blog post) I’ll have to look to see which one. We felt that if we were finally going through the process of understanding the pain and knowing we weren’t alone, that others might want the same opportunity to join us in our camaraderie and also, have a safe place to talk about it.

It was not our intention to “go after” Jack.  We decided to approach him with the attitude that we would give him the opportunity to admit it, make restitution and stop working with children and receive lifelong therapy. We didn’t think he would do any of that, so we decided that if he didn’t respond we would move forward legally and make sure he wasn’t allowed to work with children anymore.

We felt that seeking legal counsel was probably a good idea as well, with regards to both Jack and the school since we really didn’t know what else to do. Especially if the school responded like they had in the past. At this point, however, no one except a select few knew we were even talking. This was in early September.

After we refined the letter, we started creating a list of people we thought might shed some light on the subject and or connect us with people who he abused. At this point, we really didn’t know if there were a lot of others. I had spoken to one person at the reunion who told me that she was one of the “chosen” ones. She was nine when he began molesting her, much in the same way it started with me, talking walks on the golf course with the dogs. So, we knew there were others, just didn’t know how many.

In mid September both Michele and I started feeling very reluctant to go forward, as you can probably imagine. One comment I wrote to Michele on an email dated September 11, 2003 was, “I haven’t started yet (contacting people) cause I’m scared.”

I find it ironic that it was on September 11, 2003 – two years after the Twin Towers went down and one year after we closed on our house in Baton Rouge. One thing I remember reading was a response from Michele about not being able to comprehend violent acts or harmful things. She wrote, “I don’t believe my own eyes/ears if I am witnessing something really awful.” I remember a similar feeling back during Thanksgiving of 1977, after I was dating that creep from Mississippi College – I broke up with him and flew up to my brother’s in Cleveland for the Thanksgiving holidays. I stayed with my brother, his wife (remember ALC?) and his sweet daughter, my niece. Evidently, I had shared with him during that visit about my experiencing with Jack. (I don’t remember doing that.) I was also coming off of this horrible relationship I had with this older man, and I was really screwed up.

Anyway, one afternoon my brother came home from work and flipped on the TV and told us something really weird was happening – it was Jim Jones and his massacre and ultimate suicide down in Guyana. Don’t drink the Kool-Aid. But what I recall most about that time was my inability to understand the reality of this bizarre event. I had a really hard time getting my head around what was actually going on. I felt that way during 9-11 as well. So maybe that is a common reaction to those of us who have been subjected to abuse during our very informative years.

So, we finally sent the letter out in mid-September. We both had a list of people we wanted to start with and agreed not to duplicate sending to the same people. We began receiving responses right away, some from people who had been subjected to the abuse and others from people remembering things. We received encouragement from some and harsh rejections from others. I received a correspondence from a former teacher who we knew who had some not so kind things to say about Jack to the person who requested money three years before.

His response is below.

Dear Janet,
First, please accept my sympathy for what you have endured these many years. Most of us in education abhor the behavior of the few. My wife and I spent time discussing this situation you have presented. Unfortunately, there was only rumor for me to use as a basis for refusing to donate three years ago. I chaperoned more than ten trips for the seventh graders and witnessed a strong preference for and association with the girls in the groups. There was a large ego issue that played on the girls and not the boys. Fortunately, I noticed nothing overt. In the next few days I hope to find time and words to write to a former colleague to ask for correspondence to be sent to individuals who might have been molested. The information must come from them. I start jury duty tomorrow and still have classes to prepare for my substitute, but will be in touch with you within the week. What of your past should I explain to others who were at ASIJ long before me? I assume your name should be sent by you, but I might find some willing ears. One behalf of my sons and all the children, I thank you. You will be in my thoughts for a long time.

This was sent on September 22, 2003.

I know during this time I received numerous phone calls from people who preferred to call rather than write. One person I spoke with told me that she had contacted ASIJ about this and personally spoke with the principal with her parents in the fall of 1977. Another person I spoke with stayed home sick from school several days because she didn’t want to see him at school any more. Jack eventually came to her house and talked to her dad. She could hear him through the walls asking her dad if she was okay, and feeling all the while that Jack was just securing her silence by making her dad think he really was concerned about her. Master manipulator. She also told me that she had formally written the school in 1982. Can you believe it? I guess now you can after all I’ve written. Two different people, two different incidences, contacted the school and what does the administration do? Continue to allow this master manipulator to continue his activities and his abuse of students. How could they do that? I just can’t believe I’m reading this correctly. In 1977 and then again in 1982 – that we know of. Come to find out later that Jack didn’t actually quit teaching at ASIJ until 1984. And even after he quit teaching he still had ASIJ JLAP students come to his farm on Miyake until 2000! Unbelievable!!

Are these people nuts? What were they thinking? “Let’s just ignore the situation and it will go away.” And I guess it did until 2003. Now do you see why this is soooooooo important to talk about now. Hopefully, this will encourage anyone out there who has any doubt about bringing forward any information to go ahead and do it. What were they thinking? “We’ll wait and let someone else handle this because it usually takes 30 years before the “victims” to realize what really happened.” In the meantime, more girls were being abused. I cannot believe this. I’m sitting here shaking my head now almost 40 years later.

Okay folks – you had to know that eventually this was going to come out. I’m so sorry.

Day Thirty-three - "Who knew at age twelve?"

I got down to Dauphin Island around 5:30 yesterday afternoon. The grass was extremely high so I decided to start mowing a little. Got about a quarter of the lawn mowed when I ran over an illegally cut down pine tree stump and bent the blade of the mower. That stunk. Once I got the blade fixed the mower wouldn’t start so I decided to call it a night and go inside and chill. I fixed some dinner – fish, asparagus pan sauteed with olive oil and garlic, and a sweet potato with a little butter. Yum. I haven’t had butter in a while – it was good. I watched “Meet the Abbotts” but couldn’t tell you the ending because I fell asleep about 8:30. Must have really needed the rest. I woke up this morning about 7:00. I never sleep that long.

Went out to see if I could get the mower started and did so I went ahead and finished the front yard. I need to get to the back yard soon but before I do, I wanted to write a little about my findings through the emails and correspondence I’m reading. There is so much information that I’m a little overwhelmed by it. A lot of stuff I didn’t even remember because it’s difficult to. ( I know – never end a sentence with a preposition – please give me some writer’s leeway.)

The earliest correspondence I have is on July 10, 2003. Evidence from the email shows that I had been in contact with Michele prior to this, however, I don’t have any actual hard copy of that. I copy part of it below. It shows my state of mind during this time.

Hey Michele,
You know what really hacks me off? I’ve been getting lots of pictures from so many people about the reunion and so many of them look like everyone had such a great time. But I feel like ASIJ and my memories of it are sooooo over burdened by the experience I had with Jack that I can’t and never will enjoy those memories.

It’s like I was robbed of my childhood and now am still robbed of it as an adult. My relationships with my classmates are very superficial. Even some who know about what happened seem to discount it and try to act like it was no big deal. Even I’m trying to do that.

It takes too much energy to relate to people like that. I find myself not interested in those superficial relationships. But yet I know I have to have them to relate to people all through out life.

I love those pictures you sent me, too. In fact, the gentleness and tenderness they depict reflect my feelings about you. You are very special to me and you always will be. Keep me posted.

Michele's response sheds interesting light on different things. I’m not going to post her correspondence to me verbatim but just summarize it as there are personal things in there that I don’t feel are my place to share. However, pertaining to this discussion, I will share those things.

Michele went to the reunion in San Francisco in order to find out if some memories she began having were valid. She began having memories of things about a year before and “was trying so hard to try to remember if (IT) really happened or not, and I thought coming to the ASIJ reunion would help me recover my lost mind.” She approached the former ASIJ principle (early 70’s) and thought he might help her but after her attempt to even great him casually and joke with him he, “blanched stiffly and moved away, clearly uncomfortable and anxious to get away from me.“

She goes on to talk about how she arrived in the “groupies” category of Jack. Evidently, she was in the guidance counselor’s office crying and Jack “laid eyes on the 12 year old me and called my mother, inviting me to Miyake. I spent every summer and school holiday there till I graduated from high school.”

She speaks of one young girl who used to go out to Miyake alone without anyone else. She would cry before she went, telling her friends she didn’t want to go, but they never discussed why. “Who knew at age 12?”

Friday, October 9, 2009

Day Thirty-two - Dreaded File

I found the file. Heading to the beach.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Day Thirty One-“There are no shortcuts to healing.” Quoted on Fox News by the mother of Rachell Scott, 1st fatal victim of Columbine shootings.

After the reunion in June, Michele and I began corresponding by email. One thing we were curious about was what Jack was doing in 2003. All we did was google his name and we found out that he was running a camp through-out Japan for children in middle school and junior high school. Same age group as us back in the 1970's. Again, I don't know if I would have done anything on my own. But, with Michele's determination I didn't have any where to go but forward. Not knowing the circumstances of Jack's involvement with the children, we were committed to making sure we protected any child from potentially or possibly already being hurt by him. What choice did we have? If we are yelling foul and creating such a big deal about what happened to us as children, do we not have the same obligation to protect those who are possibly being subjected to the same? If we did nothing, we become the people we loath.

During this time - not sure of the exact date - I sent out a letter to people I knew and asked them to forward it. This was in the late summer or early fall of 2003. The letter is included below. Around the same time, Michele sent out her own, but similar letter.

This letter began circulating via email:

Dear _______,

As I fondly look over each yearbook from my past junior high and high school years in Japan, I search hungrily to see a life of joyous memories. I see faces reminding me of people who brought laughter and excitement. Only now, knowing that those same faces were going through pains and suffering I could not comprehend being just a child.

This summer, as I attended the centennial celebration of the american school I went to in Japan, my hopes were to recapture many of the lost times I had there. I wanted to relive my time as a child. I wanted to recall fond memories I had during that time of my life. Life was hard enough, growing up in a foreign country, not knowing what country or culture I belonged to, much less having to go through the normal stages of growth, adolescence, rebellion, etc. My desires of reconnecting were met to a certain degree, but not as much as I had hoped. Those who suffer through the sexual abuse in the hands of a trusted teacher, as I did, rarely are able to capture the splendor and joyous memories of those times.

I still look at my yearbooks, hoping to find some kind of understanding of who I am and why I was subjected to such molestation. I read things that bring back memories of fun and joy and childish behavior. Many mentions of the “nunies” running through the golf course after the musical bring back such wonderful memories of folly; ones that I haven’t even thought of until now. If you weren’t one of us, you won’t understand. I also remember, painfully, being labeled “TH and H” during my 7th grade year. The acronym stands for “totally helpless and hopeless”. Which, a child being molested by a “loving and caring” teacher, understandable would be labeled.

Thus the purpose of this letter. 30 years ago for 3 years I was subject to the sexual abuse of a teacher who provided “nurture and care” to students from an American school located in Tokyo, Japan. For much of the year he lived on a farm on an island off the Tokyo Bay. This teacher used his influence and charisma to persuade parents to allow their young, vulnerable female children to attend his “educational” farm, all the while, using this as bait to lure young girls into his den of molestation. I was one of those young girls. From the time I was eleven until I was fourteen, I was subjected to sexual abuse by this teacher. The molestation was not limited to his farm on this island but also extended to his local home near the school.

In June of 1990 we had a small reunion for the classes of the era of the 1970’s. One of the things we were celebrating was the memories of teachers and their roles in our lives. This teacher was nominated as one of the “favorite” teachers of this decade. I quietly but firmly voiced my concern to the reunion committee and they withdrew his name from the nominations. I believe that the school was privy to this information. To my knowledge, nothing was done to distance or divorce the school from this teacher at that time. Subsequently, in the year 2000, in the privacy of my home, I received an email soliciting funds for this teacher due to a disaster that occurred on this island and his home. My initial response was to request a withdrawal of the correspondence from the originator of this email. When my request was denied I decided to contact the school.

In the fall of 2000, I wrote a letter to the headmaster of this school describing the history of my abuse by this teacher. I requested that the school get involved in stopping this correspondence requesting funds from the alumni and I also requested that the school take every measure to divorce itself from this man. After sending the letter I did not receive notice from the school. I contacted the headmaster once again and he acknowledged receiving the letter. That was the last written or verbal correspondence I received from the school regarding this issue.

This summer, when I attended the centennial celebration of this school on the West Coast, I was once again subjected to the classic, “head in sand syndrome”. A book, written about the history of the school, praised this teacher and regarded him as a wonderful asset to this school’s history. For those who experienced his “under the cover methods”, I seriously doubt they would consider him praise worthy but as a man who was much more than just a tainted memory.

Up until July of 2003, I was under the impression that this former teacher was retired and living with his family in the Philippines. However, since the reunion, I have been made aware that this man is still working with children. He had developed another “educational program” designed for children. Adults need not apply. “Some adults will also be considered for inclusion.” Quote from his web site.

As a result of this new information, I have decided that to sit idly by waiting for the next young girl to be molested by this man would make me as guilty as he. If only someone would have stopped him before I was subjected to three years of his sexual abuse, then surely I wouldn’t be writing this letter. My purpose is twofold: 1) to do whatever is in my power to make sure no other child will be subjected to his molestation by stopping his work with children 2) To connect with others that have been subjected to his molestation and to continue the road to healing.

If you or someone you know has been subjected to his abuse in any form, and you would like to make sure no one else has to live with this horrible tragedy, please let me know by emailing me at . I will do my best to keep this information confidential and will not use it in anyway without permission of the person who sent it. I have been keeping it quiet for 30 years, it will not be difficult to do it longer.

However, more and more people are exposing this man for who he is. I have connected with several people who have suffered under the abuse of this man and I believe the list will grow. If you would like to join with us in this process I thank you. If you were molested by this man but are not in a place where you feel secure enough to share with others, please do not feel guilty or sorry about it. Your time will come when you can heal through this and my prayer is that you will not do it alone.

My strength during this time has come from family members who have supported me throughout my entire life, but mostly from a loving heavenly Father who loves me more than anyone else could. Without the nurture and care of God, I would have surely died.

Your friend and classmate,

Janet Calcote Simmons

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Day Thirty - The dreaded drawer

So I opened the dreaded drawer. The file is gone. I don't know where it is. I looked through my closet. I looked everywhere I thought it would be. I'm a little dazzled and confused. Don't know where to go with this.

I was certain it was in this specific drawer.

Maybe so, maybe not.

Day Thirty - "That's a tall order. Not so tall that you can't reach." Life of Pi

I don't know if you ever read the book Life of Pi by Yann Martel. It is an adventure fiction novel written about a young boy from India who ended up stranded on a small boat after the ship he was on wrecked. He and a tiger both travel and survive for over 200 days on the water. It's a book about his spiritual journey through life. He ends up in the States. I just found it interesting. "That's a tall order. Not so tall that you can't reach." Life of Pi

Well, that's how I'm feeling right now. That's a tall order. I've been reading through many of the emails and coorespondence from 2003 and it's not easy going back to that time. I don't know what would have happened had Michele not gone to the reunion. I probably would have laughed at the book - like we did - scoffed at the out-going administration of the school and prayed a prayer of thanksgiving for the new administration coming in not having to deal with this. The problem is, though, if it had not been dealt with then, it would have come out some time.

For Michele, her memories started coming back later in her life. For me, I always had my memories but just decided to try and get by minimal confrontation or exposition. Michele has her own story and I won't even attempt to tell it. First because it's not my place, second because there is a lot of her story I don't know because it's not my story. But, she was on a mission at the reunion, to find out what happened 30 years before. Imagine not remembering everything that happened but starting to get glimpses of it, trying to find anyone who could help bring back memories of the past. You have to get to a certain place in your life in order to do that. And for Michele this part began at the 2003 reunion.

After the reunion, we spent a little time in the area and then headed home. Michele and I agreed to continue communicating via email and phone. If my memory serves me it was several weeks before we communicated. I wasn't sure what the next steps were going to be but I knew that what ever it was, I was going on the scariest ride of my life.

"Speaking of a zoo. It was a huge zoo, spread over numberless acres, big enough to require a train to explore it, though it seemed to get smaller as I grew older, train included. Now it's so small it fits in my head." Life of Pi

Monday, October 5, 2009

Day Twenty-nine - Thumb Drive - Continuation of 100 Anniversary of ASIJ

I have or had two thumb drives. Both had information on them pertaining to this journey. The one that had the most information on it was stolen out of my office. Unfortunately, I lost all that information, however, the other thumb drive had about 25 files on it so I downloaded those and printed them off and am in the process of going through them as well as the dreaded file.

The dreaded file contains a lot of information. I'm really glad I printed off all of that information. I did it so I could share it with the attorneys. I'm sure it's in disarray so I need to organize it to get a better picture of what transpired. This weekend I plan to go to Dauphin Island by myself(in the Gulf of Mexico) where we have a fish camp and go through all this stuff. Hopefully, I'll get it in order and can write about it after that. But in the meantime, I'll go forward with my memories and write more that way.

After Michele and I were re-introduced at the 2003 reunion, every hope I had for the reunion went down the tube. I really wanted to have a normal reunion, where friends got together, went down memory lane and really just have a good time. You know, this should have been taken care of a long time ago. I shouldn't have had to suffer again in 2003 and go through all this stuff again. Why didn't someone take care of this before, when it was first reported. And through this process, I found out that it had been reported long before I entered the picture.

Another consequence of this being brought up again at this reunion was that I felt alienated from many of my friends. Again, I started feeling that desperate feeling of being accepted and again I was humiliated and again I was alone. Being in this state of narcissism is really quite unhealthy. I felt like all eyes were on me and people were talking about me behind my back. It is really not a good place to be. People through out the reunion were talking about the "girls" who were molested by Jack. I heard that different groups were talking about it and even found out that the new headmaster had been given a heads up about it. Can you imagine entering a new job and this is the first thing you have to face? I recall hearing that one ASIJ alum approached the new headmaster to tell him that this was the topic of conversation around the Centennial celebration. At this point I felt so exposed and scared.

I do remember looking at the previous administrator in the face and really feeling contempt for him. I'm not sure that is even a strong enough word. He was moving on to another school, knew all this had happened but along with the board of directors decided not to communicate with me, brushed in under the carpet, basically acted as if it didn't happen. I did find out that somewhere along the way they "dismissed" Jack. How this happened I don't know. I do know though that despite their "dismissal" of him they still allowed the 7th grade classes go to Miyake on their annual trip up until the volcano erupted in 2000. [Sidebar: - I now know that Tim Thorton (junior administrator?) was tasked with the job to tell Jack he could no longer be associated with ASIJ. - Source:  Tim Thorton told me that in December of 2013 when he called me to let me know about ASIJ finally admitting that this happened.]

I did talk with several people who told me about their experiences with Jack. Finally, I started realizing I wasn't alone. There were others out there who went through similar stuff. Little did I know how many people had.

One very positive memory I have was the connection with fellow MK's. You know, I love my fellow MK's as if they were my own brothers or sisters. I also felt like the older guys who were in my sister's class or around there about, were there to protect me. That felt really good.

In 2003, after the reunion, all this stuff started being circulated via email. I received support, admonition, disdain and love. It was a roller coaster of emotions. Probably, the most hurtful thing was the "friends" I thought I had in high school didn't respond, reply, call, email, comment-either negatively or positively, didn't reply to emails I sent.  Nothing. That was very disappointing and probably hurt the most.

Well, that's all for now.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Day Twenty-eight - Evening

It's closing in on 10:00 p.m. It's pouring rain outside - perfect for sleeping - so I don't know how long I'll write tonight. Especially after spending all weekend stuffing closets and junk drawers and cleaning up dust bunnies.

There is a dreaded drawer with a file folder in it full of correspondence from 2003 and 2004. You see, my computer that housed all the emails and correspondence from that time crashed, however, I printed off a lot of the emails and stored them in a file folder. I haven't opened that folder in five years. That dreaded folder is the next step. I'll attempt to open it this week. But, before I do I feel I must response to several emails, comments, etc., I received this weekend. I have attempted to reply on the actual comments, but I'm not sure anybody goes to the comments, only me, so I don't think anyone who is posting on the comments is getting my reply, so I decided to reply directly in my blog to the comments. You will find that I will start my blog with responses first and then continue into the story.

First response is to a ASIJ graduate whose parent had an association with the school. Listed below with some personal editing to protect the identity of this person is the email I received.

"I happened to land on your blog a few weeks ago because I subscribe to Google Alerts with the keyword "ASIJ". I have always been heavily involved with ASIJ.

To be honest, my first reaction to seeing your blog was... "What if new families that goto to ASIJ see this blog...Won't it hurt ASIJ's name? Won't it give ASIJ a bad rep?" but as I read through, now I am glad you are writing this blog because you are bringing light to an issue which, for me, has been a mystery for a long time.
When the school originally "banned" the ASIJ Centennial Book, I was confused to why they did...I remember one summer all the books from the Centennial were taken to the trash...

and now, you are shedding light to the "other side". Its been this untalked about secret at ASIJ...when people ask about it, I feel that the school kind of avoids the topic...I guess its bad publicity, I know... I mean.. having a pedophile teacher? What if the Japanese Media got a hold of this story...

Anyways, I just wanted to share my appreciation for you sharing your story."

My initial reaction to the beginning of this email without reading all the way through was to raise my eyebrows and the hair on the back of my neck. Sort of the way a dog does when he detects danger. But, as I read on, I realized that this person was processing a little of his/her own feelings about the truth coming out. Do you see how permeating this mind set is in our society? The idea is to protect the guilty, and vilify the innocent. We all struggle with it, even if we aren't the person who was abused. In a sense, we all are prey.

Other responses to comments/emails:

One writer corrected the reunion status and reminded me that it was not the 75 anniversary in San Francisco but the Centennial celebration at the Miyako Hotel in Japantown. Oh, I remember something funny that happened while we were at the reunion. My sister and I (and our husbands) stayed at the Holiday Inn a few blocks around the corner from the Miyako Hotel. I want to say it was because we waited too long to make reservations at the Miyako so they were all booked. Plus, my brother-in-law had points with the Holiday Inn so it was convenient for us to stay there. One night, my sister and I wanted to stay late talking to friends and our husbands wanted to go back to the hotel. So, they left and we stayed. Later, my sister and I caught a cab to the Holiday Inn because it was really late and we didn't think it was safe to walk. Our cab driver just happened to be a Japanese guy and as we started to give him directions, he was shocked. We had a great conversation with him and enjoyed telling him he was the gaijin.

Another memory I have about the reunion is that one night late - it may have been the same night as the previous story - the phone in our room rang. It was my buddies from high-school who were also staying in the same hotel. They wanted me to come down and party with them. Had my husband not been with me I probably would have gone.....It's probably a good thing my husband was with me.

Another person asked about whether or not I had begun the process of forgiveness. Hopefully, as you are reading you can pick up on the fact that I have gone through a great deal of forgiveness. I don't think you can talk about stuff like this without going through forgiveness. I write about my life as it was, not as it is now. My mom died in 2004 - I will write about that later - but my dad is still living and we now have a really great relationship. We can talk frankly with each other, we debate political issues, we disagree on a lot of things, but I know my dad loves me and he has also gone through his own personal journey and has been able to get to a point of forgiving himself and allowing God's grace and mercy to cover everything else.

I also know that I'm not the greatest parent of them all. In fact, I have a great deal of flaws. I have made stupid mistakes with my kids. We've had our share of struggles, but as my favorite teacher, Steve Brown, says, "I will never write a book on how to parent, because I don't know how. But I do know that if my kids KNOW that I love them, then that is really what matters." I'm banking on that.

Another writer responded to the post about Japanese men and their inappropriate behavior especially on the train during rush hour. She shared her humiliation as the Japanese would grope her in a crowded train. I remember one time grabbing the hand of a man who was groping me on the train and lifting it up and saying, "Dare no te deska." Translated - "Whose hand is this?" In Japan, this public revelation was quite humiliating.

Another person responded to the "Maybe So or Maybe Not" post. You know things aren't always as they appear. Reality sometimes comes from the opposite direction. It makes me think of the story of Joseph. Ask me and I'll tell you about it.

One response talks about bad memories of moving back to the states. It was difficult sharing our heritage. We were/are fully American and fully Japanese. What a weird combination. Life on furlough and even after high school was difficult.

Another wrote that he/she has a slightly different story of the shrine. I'd love to hear it. My recollection is that the story had more detail.

Another person asked about forgiveness. This also reminds me of the sermon this morning. Our associate pastor preached on the use of the tongue. That resonated with me because even though I'm not speaking these words, it is still the my responsibility to be careful how I write and who I write about. I would love to hear your thoughts about that.

But back to forgiveness. I have and had forgiven Jack for what he did to me. I have also forgiven my parents for not protecting me. I'm not sure I have fully forgiven the administrators of the school, parents and teachers who knew but didn't do anything, and others who want me to keep this suppressed. They are probably the most difficult to forgive. It's all about progress, protecting the reputation of the school or even yourself for being a coward for not telling. This is hard stuff.

Ok. I think I have responded to all the comments and emails. Please continue to write. I will have to soon open the dreaded drawer...................

Day Twenty-eight - I think

I have received many notes of encouragement and comments on my posts. Thanks to all of you who are supporting my efforts in this. I want to remind those of you who are commenting anonymously. If you sign your name to an anonymous post, it's not longer anonymous because everybody can read a comment. If you would prefer to just write me privately, you can do so by emailing me at: Also, I respond to most if not all posts through the comment box. So please go back and review the comments if you want to read my reply. You can also get on facebook and "friend" me and read it there. Okay, enough housekeeping.

I really was hoping I would have a lot of time to write last night but ended up going to bed early after a long day of working on stuffing closets and filling junk drawers in anticipation of about 40 people coming to my house tonight. We are hosting an Open House for Catholic High School (the school my youngest two boys attend). No, I didn't convert to Catholicism. In Baton Rouge if you don't put your kids in a private school, it's difficult to get a decent education.

So this morning's post will be short. My husband and I were talking yesterday and he asked me about where I was in life when all this began. We've talked about this before but not to this detail. So I thought I should give him some kind of an idea about my state of mind starting in 1968. As I mentioned before, in 1968 we left Nagoya and came back to the States on furlough. Our family usually went to Mississippi because that was where my Dad's family lived. We visited Louisiana (my Mom's home) but for some reason we didn't live there. We moved to a small town in Mississippi called Yazoo City. I was going into the fifth grade. Several things happened to me that year.

First, the school enrolled me into a remedial class. Why? I guess they thought that because we came from Japan, I had no understanding or comprehension of the English language or any other subject. After several days somebody (my parents? the principal?) realized that my comprehension was much greater than they could have imagined - amazing - so they transferred me to the regular fifth grade class but not without a chastisement from the teacher. She was one of those old bitty teachers that had to get in the last word. "I better not hear about you misbehaving or slipping in that class. Otherwise, I'll have you transferred back to my class." It was like she had some ownership and was incensed that I would leave her class. Unreal. You would think she would want children to transfer out of her class.

Another event occurred the day I got new glasses. My parents took me out of school that day and when I returned I wore a pair of cat eye blue and white checkered thick coke bottle bottom glasses. I was the laughing stock of the class. I was completely humiliated. I also remember that I was desperate to be liked by the cool kids. As with most kids that age, I wanted to be cool, too. Some of the girls I hung with would take me to their secret hide out where we would look at Playboy and Playgirl magazines. One of the girl's smoked, too, I think. I don't remember much more about that year. We left Yazoo City to return to Nagoya the summer of 1969. I went back to NIS for one year and got into a little trouble there because I was trying to, again, hang with the cool kids. I remember really hurting one girl in our class by ridiculing her mother and calling her names. What a mean girl I was.

We stayed in Nagoya until 1970 when we moved to Tokyo because of my rebellious sister and other MK's and their actions that caused the dorm to shut down. (Actually - that's not true but it's fun to accuse them of such power.)

During this time, my parents were concentrating on their own stuff. Furlough is huge to them because it's not just a time of family gatherings and reunions but more working to gain support. The Southern Baptist missionaries did not have to raise their own support, however, they did have to go from church to church speaking about their experiences on the mission field, all the while dragging us "little missionaries" to each event, putting us on display for the whole world to see. So while we seemed to be in the "spot light" we were only there as props to be shown off. This wasn't the kind of attention any kid wants. Also, their minds were on their own reputation so our actions were always sifted through the filter of, "will this help our (taint my (our)) reputation as missionaries." I think this is another reason why it has taken me so long to share this story. Also, during my sixth grade year at NIS my parents were dealing with the problems in Tokyo, the dorm and my older two sisters, primarily my oldest sister. There was not much focus on me. Then when we moved to Tokyo, my Dad was angry that they had to leave their work in Nagoya.  The focus was on my oldest sister and hero struggles so I didn't get much attention then.

So three moves in three years when I was nine, ten and eleven. Three schools in three years as well. As we (my husband and me) talked about this yesterday and really dug into what humiliation and desperate need for acceptance I experienced during those years,my husband stated that, through some of his own personal stuff he has processed, one of his counselors said to him that when a child experiences difficult things during those pre-pubescent years it really sets them up for problems later. So, all you parents who have children that haven't quite made it to adolescence, listen up - talk to them, spend time with them, listen to them and most surely love them.

See you guys later on tonight.