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"Grandpa! Your leg! What happened?"

My daughter's wedding

Time sometimes flies like an arrow. Takae was working quite seriously and perfectly on her feet. My second daughter Satomi finished junior high school and started to work in Shimabara City, next to Nagasaki, because she did not want to stay in Nagasaki. Satomi sometimes acts too bravely and boldly, beyond my understanding. All I can do is to watch her.

Hidehiro often plays his TV games at home. He seldom goes out to play.

The Emperor became sick in 1988, and died on January 7, 1989. All of Japan was in mourning, and I felt something strange. The Showa era had ended and Heisei began. I wondered what Showa (Hirohito's reign) meant to me. I remembered how I had lived, and shivered with fright...

In 1989, I was feeling somewhat uneasy and nervous. I noticed that Takae's behavior had changed a little, for some reason. Her mother would have seen it more clearly, if she had lived with her. I could not see anything clearly, though I suspected that something was happening. I acted as if I saw nothing and said, "Takae, when you are in love, I would like to see the one you love. Bring him home, whenever." In about a week, she came home with a man, and said, "Dad! I want to marry him. I hope you will allow us to get married." I knew that it was probable, but I was stunned when I heard that Takae was pregnant, in the third month. How often does she have to surprise me? I acted, laughed happily and said "Why not? Good. I'm going to sponsor your wedding reception. Am I going to be a grandfather?" In my heart, I was not calm. I wondered if it was too early: she was only 19. In my heart, I was not warmly accepting the man who was sitting with his head down right next to my daughter.

The night before their wedding, after she fell asleep, I sat beside her pillow. I had a bottle of shochu gin in one hand, a glass in another. I heard her soft breathing. The clock showed a little after one in the morning. "Takae," I called her softly. She might be annoyed, she turned away. Her right hand was out from under her blanket. Her fingers were quite rough. The job at the coffee shop must be hard. "If I were her mother, we might have a lot more to talk about." I thought. I was almost in tears.

Some years before, when I was in despair, I often felt her icy-cold glances. What kind of father had she been hoping for? When she was mentally unstable, she tried to get as far away as possible from me. Tomorrow is the day she leaves me for her new life. "Don't go! Stay here!" I said to myself. And I kept drinking beside her.

The following day, the guests came to me, one after another, saying, "Congratulations!" Some commented "I admire you for having raised children on your own as a single father."

In my heart, I hated such nosy comments. One thing I can say is that I sincerely hoped that my daughter would lead a very happy life.

After coming back from the ceremony and reception, I remained a little drunk. And I drank again on the floor where Takae used to sleep. The gin tasted bitter.