Monday, August 14, 2006

ASJ 30th Anniversary moment #1

Congratulations to Yu-Chen Shen on the birth of her daughter, Ellie. Certainly the creation of new life is the greatest miracle of all. And what can symbolize growth and evolution more than a young infant? Curious, at times comtemplative, emotional, profound(who can doubt the mysterious power of an infant's grip?)......At the same time, perhaps we as parents never again know the protective and nurturing aspects of love as when we are with our own young child.

Jenny and her mom,Nov.1978 at my mom's grave
This is the first in a series of historical moments in Aikido of San Jose's 30 years. They are not to be ranked, only they exist in the order that they come to me. November 8, 1978 was the day my daughter Jennifer was born. Her mom, Sarah, and I had a home birth, which means she was born at the old location of the dojo on North Sixth Street. We worked with 2 mid-wives, Robin and Pat, and the pregnancy was overseen by a doctor. Sarah and I had been living in the dojo since late 1977. We had both just returned from a period of Aikido training in Japan. The building lacked a formal kitchen space as well as a shower. Japan perhaps had been good training for making due with very little.

Sarah's water broke very early that Wednesday morning. We summoned our midwives and the long wait was on. At the time I was teaching Aikido classes at San Jose State University in the afternoon. I called Robert Nadeau's house in Mt. View and enlisted Diane Weinberg(now Diana Daffner) to substitute for me that day. At 3:45 pm Jennifer was born. I remember catching her as she came out. Instinctively, the first thing she did was to try to nurse on my left nipple. I still remember the shirt I was wearing that day. I remember that in those days, Ken Kubo taught the Wednesday evening class, so I was able to be with mother and daughter. Sarah, chose the name Jennifer, and since I could see that she had done all the work, that was fine with me. I probably would have chosen Emma or Diana(see belated Birthday blog), but she has definitely grown up to be a Jennifer. I gave her the middle name Michiko, the name of my mother who had died in 1975 and never got a chance to see my daughter.

I descibed the spartan living conditions of the dojo at that time. It was incredible how the birth of my daughter somehow changed all that. Even though living there was largely due to economizing so that the dojo could keep going, to me that place then became a home. Jenny lived there for the first 9 years of her life, until her mom and I separated. Until we moved to our new location, Jennifer spent periods when she would live upstairs at the school. When I was there, she would stay with me often on Thursday nights. Once I checked in on her and noticed that she had moved her bed to the exact place where she had come into the world.

I mentioned that I caught her when she came into the world. I could never do that now. She went on to start for the Del Mar High School Varsity Basketball team. Heightwise, she took after her mom. She now styles hair in Willow Glen(Somewhair,408-298-1733). And she is getting back into painting.

oil painting by Jenny for my birthday June 2006


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