Friday, June 09, 2006

BECAUSE THEY BOW TO YOU WHEN THEY SAY GOOD-BYE


Reverence, originally uploaded by Raminsky.

Last Saturday night, we had several interesting dinner guests. One of the men traveled extensively in his work. It seemed exciting to me, but his voice was weary when he spoke of it. He had just returned from Korea--his fourth trip to that country this year.

"It's not the same as traveling for pleasure," he said when I expressed interest.

I thought about that. "But whatever the reason you're there, you're seeing, meeting, experiencing. If you travel that often, there must be places you've grown to love."

"Japan," he said immediately, the weariness dispelled from his voice.

And when I asked why, his eyes grew animated. "Because they bow to you when you say good-bye."

At that point, others entered the conversation, and it took a turn as conversations will. People wanted to know if he'd eaten live eel when he was in Korea.

But I continued to reflect on the comment he made about Japan long after the discussion was over. It occurred to me that we don't bow to each other nearly often enough. Not physically or spiritually. We don't acknowledge the sacred in every encounter, every conversation, every parting.

I thought, too, of my parents who always came out and stood in the driveway whenever a guest was leaving. They stood and watched until the visitor's car had totally disappeared from view. Now that my father is dead, my mother stands in the driveway alone.

When I am the guest, I want her to stay in the house. I'm afraid that she'll be bitten by mosquitoes in the summer or that she'll slip on the ice in the winter, that she'll forget to lock the door after I'm gone.

But she never listens when I tell her to go back inside.

"You never know when you might be seeing someone for the last time," she says.

I tell her not to be morbid; but then I understand: this is her way of bowing.

23 comments:

Brenda said...

True, and with such profound simplicity, "You never know when you might be seeing someone for the last time." To take care of each other with our goodbyes, so important. Thank you for this remembering...

Sonja said...

That made me misty-eyed. Good post!

Sky said...

ohhhhh, patry. this is so true...and your mom's right.

Simply Coll said...

Such a lovely thought and so true. My Mom also lost my Dad and I know she misses him every day.

Danny Sillada said...

"You never know when you might be seeing someone for the last time." I love this and it is deeper than the cultural thing of treating a guest.

Living Part Deux said...

What a lesson to extend courtesy or affection at every parting as if it is the last. I love that. Thank you for this lovely post.

Dara said...

What a beautiful thought. You have such a lovely way with words. Here tonight from Michele's.

colleen said...

That's very gracious of your mom. It makes a beautiful image in my mind.

Mary said...

This bought tears to my eyes. My mother always stood in the driveway waving me goodbye, even in the last months of her life she would stand there in her dressing gown waving ....

I think your mother is right.

ainelivia said...

patry, it was around 8am that I logged on, just to check emails and stuff, before I take a walk while it's cool and collect newspaper.

and then I read your post. the walk and the paper will have to wait, cos I can't go out with wet eyes. your Mum and mine agree. although, we always turned away just before they disappeared over the horizon "because you want to see them again".

"we don't acknowledge the sacred in every encounter, every conversation, every parting". so simple, so true.

I'm bowing as I leave now, and I acknowledge that your writing, always finds a way to my heart; even though I may not always comment. Go n'eiri and bothair leat, patry. (may the road rise with you).

chiefbiscuit said...

This is beautiful writing. Thank you.

floots said...

well put
my mother was the same
(and i should have bowed)
thank you

rdl said...

Nice post!! Reminds me of when i was a kid visiting relatives in NY, we would be at the door for a good 15 min. saying goodbye.

maverick said...
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maverick said...
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lucky said...

Your right,
we all should bow more often especially to our elders.
beautiful words
thank you

MB said...

"You never know when you might be seeing someone for the last time."
That is something I think about a lot. It's a way of embracing life, the person, the present moment, appreciating, holding with honor, bowing to the moment and to the person.

Thank you, Patry.

zhoen said...

You are right about the bowing, and taking a moment to mark the leaving. Acknowledging the sacred.

But to this day, I cannot stand being watched when I leave. Perhaps something of the performer wishing to make my own exit, and not have the audience follow me backstage while I change. Or understanding the wisdom of never looking back.

Brett Battles said...

A beautiful post. Well said, and by us, well read.

If only everyone would take a moment to acknowledge others with a bow, whether literal or not. It's the first step in understanding others. Respect.

Susan said...

"I thought, too, of my parents who always came out and stood in the driveway whenever a guest was leaving. They stood and watched until the visitor's car had totally disappeared from view. Now that my father is dead, my mother stands in the driveway alone."

This made me cry.

andrea said...

Wow, powerful piece of writing.
a.

kasturi said...

my husband and i wave to people until they've disappeared from view. it seems old-fashioned but we like to do it.

also, i used to bow my head to people, well, to adults, when I was a child. i guess boy's might bow, but not girls. this bowing may have seemed strange to the people around me.

Anonymous said...

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