A small purse in which my grandmother Tsuyajyo collected 500 yen coins to give me and my little sister. Hide-and-seek in a morning after I stayed a night at their house. I have many sweet, fragmentary memories of my grandmother. When I was a high school student, my grandfather, Tsuyajyo’s husband, became sick and started to stay in a hospital. On one of the last days of him, he was tied to the bed in a sterilizing room after trying to remove a tube attached to his throat, and was still trying to move staring at us even though he couldn’t make a voice anymore. Tsuyajyo said to us outside of the room, “He is not the grandpa you know, maybe you shouldn’t see him anymore.”
Tsuyajyo started to have symptoms of dementia around 2009. My mother took care of her mother who could hardly do the basic things like eating, taking a bath, or changing clothes. She was irritated for Tsuyajyo starting to be a person who she has never seen as her mother. At that time I lived in Tokyo, and I had no idea how to relate to her when I went back to my hometown. I was just there with hearing Tsuyajyo and my mother shouting at each other, at a little distance.
It was 2012 that Tsuyajyo joined the care home after changing several hospitals and care homes. Around this time I started this series “My Recollections” and went back to live in my hometown. While my mother passed her responsibility to care givers, she goes to see her mother almost every day to spend half an hour as if that is her duty. “I just wish her laugh once a day.” she said. I went to see her with my mother sometimes. I was often amazed by how she laughs. I felt surprised when she grips my hand stronger than I expected, saying, “I want to grip your hand strong until my blood pipes burst.”
Now she is 99 years old. Since she can’t take foods much, she moved to hospital where her husband passed away more than 10 years this summer. I still take notes of what she says to me or tweets, though she does not speak much like she used to. Unless I take pictures or take notes, these memories sometimes just slip off from me. So I photograph how our days continue.
Mitsu Maeda/Nov 2018