I met a lovely man in Shuzenji, Japan. I went to one of the outdoor foot baths and there was an elderly Japanese couple (perhaps about 85 years old) with their feet in the water – the old man skinny and lively, but the old lady was bent over. I joined them.
The old man talked to me and was very interested in my sketchbook. He borrowed it a few times to show his wife – gently explaining as he turned the pages. He talked and talked, and when I could not follow his conversation in Japanese, I asked him to slow down and he talked some more. Then he made bird sounds for me (why not! I can sketch, he can make bird sounds).
Then about 15 minutes after I sat down, his wife bent over even more, and I thought she was going to fall into the water. I panicked, but he spun her around, said comforting words, wiped her feet and then his own. We said our goodbyes, and he said “very good よ” and 頑張ってね(keep at it) and I said 気を付けて (take care) and I really really meant it.
I continued to sketch and half an hour later, I jumped when someone grabbed my shoulder from behind! It was him – he came back to see my sketch and borrowed the book again to show his wife who was in the car. As he walked back to me, he started to mimic a monkey walk! Hilarious. I wanted to hug him but shook his hand instead. When he walked back to his car, he turned around and gave me a 2 handed wave.
I am sure I will never see him again but I will remember this connection. 気を付けてください。