In the past I have done posts on people I have known who have been special in some way, or at least very special to me. I guess it is my way of honoring them. As we go thru life, we all get to meet some truly amazing people – but then everyone is pretty amazing in one way or another, wouldn’t you say? Anyway, I want to share a little about my friend, Noriko.
Quite a few years ago, maybe 20(?) the shore had a visiting teacher here from Japan. She was in a teacher exchange program and was sent to a neighboring county to teach Japanese, and be a sort of cultural ambassador. She was quite unappreciated by my neighbors to the south. This is Noriko on Assateague Island, the Atlantic Ocean in the background… maybe 30 miles from here.
I just found myself starting to list how badly she was treated here on the shore, but that would change the point of this post. I will say that those people with whom she taught missed a wonderful opportunity to get to know an amazing person. Their school district was not mature enough to have someone like Noriko working with them.
I met her at a multicultural event held in the other county in her high school. It was one of those celebrate diversity things… (I told an Iroquois story I learned from my uncle as a very little girl about a boy who became a bear.) Noriko and I hit it off somehow, and it was the beginning of a long friendship that has stretched itself over thousands of miles and many years. I took her to a number of Native American events both here on the shore and over in the rest of Virginia. We compared notes on native cultures. As the kids would say, we “hung out,” enjoying our differences, learning from each other, sometimes using other languages as a bridge when English and Japanese just didn’t work. We discovered we had the Turkish language in common! What fun explaining a menu in Turkish when the English did not make sense.
What a privilege to have her as a friend! What a gift!
Too soon the year was over. Nori returned to Japan and to a busy international life. Time marched steadily on… we wrote, not often, but enough to keep in touch. Enough to remember…
Noriko wrote a book about education. She included a story about one of the projects in my class that she had visited where I taught early American Indian pictographs and communication without alphabets. While here, Noriko received a native name, Spring Blossom. She valued that name. It was my honor to get to name her. For those of you who do not know, my name is Many Feathers.
I have gone back in old saved emails… I was late coming to computers, you see, so I have only a few old short letters from Noriko. But I will share a few of them with you. As many of you know, I have written a Sunday newsletter of sorts since 1998 or 99 – it has always gone to Nori, and in the early days, she responded frequently. In the early days, her letters were filled with comments on the perception of the USA in the Japanese world. But as time went on, cancer snuck in and took its toll.
In chronological order:
Thank you very much for your mail so soon.
I am proud of that I have an American friend like you.
I mean that you showed me such wide heart and kind
mind for those who are …….. weak and
oppressed people in the world.
I read mails you sent to us all. Sometimes I think to write
to you. But I soon give up writing because it takes me too
much time when I write it in English. Recently I have not
had the time to use English. I am surrounded with Japanese
language every day. I am now an editor on the small magazine.
I check the sentences , correct Japanese and sometimes I
myself write the manuscripts. I have come to forget English
day by day, year by year. In my mind I am thinking of you.
I would like to share your email with others. May I do that?
Sure, please do so. Your friends may be a feather of birds, I believe.
So say hello to your friends!
Love, Noriko Spring Blossoms
nck55 <nck55@*******.jp> wrote: (in January of 2005)
A Happy New Year!
So much thank you for your warm mail to me.
Last year, I had had such busy days that I could not write private letters.
I had worked to protect environment of our city from destruction.
I had worked to protect children from evil situations.
And had checked the ill political movements, ill usage of tax by governments
and had checked ill movements by police. Moreover I have my program on the radio.
On the program I have spoken about American Life I had in Eastern Shore.
So, every day I was captured by the schedule.
This year still everything above will continue with me. But I know that I need
to change my way of life.. I want to change it. I will try to do so.
Thank you again for your care. Even though I don't write any words, don't worry.
I have read your mails so far. Just I am too busy to write.
With lots of love, Noriko
Date: Mon, 28 Apr 2008 13:11:48 +0900
Thank you very much for sending your mail again.
This time every word goes well. I can read them though it takes time.
Words are very interesting. Words has meaning for them who can read and
understand them. But words become just a kind of picture for the people who
can not understand them.
Now let me try to write Japanese. So guess what they are!
Thank you very much!
From: jan jan
To: ikuta noriko
Sent: Monday, April 28, 2008 9:29 PM
私の親愛なる友人、私は非常に幸運ずっと会うためにである! あなたの友情は大きいギフトである! 多くの羽
Many Feathers ___________________________________________________________
Dear Many Feathers,
I wonder how you wrote the following Japanese letters.
You may have magic box !
And also I am surprised to know you are going to get to study with the Dalai Lama for a week this summer. How did you get such a wonderful chance?
I am also interested in Dalai Lama, but I can't move freely because of my cancer disease. Recently I can move around my house and can meet friends but I' m sorry that I can't go on a journey even inside Japan.
After studying, please tell me your feeling and opinion.
With lots of Love,
Date: Sun, 24 Aug 2008 23:15:21 +0900
Thank you very much I got your mail.
Today I want ask a question.
Please tell me the meaning of Bensam Chose Sabiorum,
I am not sure the spelling is right or not.
The other day, suddenly I remembered the sound of those words.
To: ikuta noriko
Sent: Monday, August 25, 2008 3:56 AM
Subject: RE: 8-24-08 H
Ben Seni Choke Seviyorum!!!!!! I Love You Very Much!!!!!! (in Turkish)
Many Feathers __________________________________________________________
So much thank you for your quick response for my question.
I also "Ben Seni Choke Seviyorum", Jan.
Recently I am writing a book concerning my whole life.
I will write about you who gave me lots of what is life of not only human beings but also all living things on this earth.
"Thank you" in Japanese is Arigatou(ありがとう。in Chinese character,有難う)
So, thank you, arigatou, Ben Seni Choke Seviyorum,
With lots of love, Spring Blossom
May 11, 2009
So much thank you for your swift return mail. It is so fun to think or to have an imagination about you in the morning of the USA.
I am going to sleep before long. It is 9:30 o'clock in Japan. I live in Kamakura (This place is very famous historical place in Japan.)
I love you ! Good night!
With love, Spring blossom
I'm sorry I have been sick for long. I have pain on my body here and there. I have cancer in my body.
I can't write any more, sorry. Noriko
Nov 18, 2010
So much thank you for your kind mails so far.
I have been sick for a long time. I had to stay in the hospital for a long time.
Though I could come home, I have still sickness. I have to stay calmly.
So, I can't write to you often. I am sorry !
With love , Noriko
Dec 22, 2010
For a long time, I have sick in bed. But I am still alive, though I can
not run and jump.
Sometimes, I have felt that I could not walk and write any more, But God
gave me chance to write again. Though this is very short, this is my love letter to you,
Jan.! Thank you!
I hope you may have good days!
Feb. 28th, 2010…
Thank you very much for your kind mail. I 'm sorry I am not fine.
I often think whether I can live more?
Almost everyday, I have to go to hospital . I have pain in everywhere in my body.
I never forget you. Thank you ! Noriko
It is with heavy heart that I read those words. How I wish I could share with you all what a brilliant, kind soul Noriko is. I ask for your prayers. I would ask you to send her an email but she feels duty bound to answer them, and I think that might be too much to answer. Maybe just a comment on this post – and I can share that with her.
As we go thru life, we get to meet some extraordinary people. Sometimes we are aware, often we are not. I know I was blessed to have met Noriko, and I am so glad I made the effort to get to know her.