Hello everyone,

Charlie’s father again. Nine months have passed since the disaster that struck Japan, and we are still finding it difficult to accept our son’s fate, and understand the terrible events that unfolded. Ayako and Risa have finally arrived here in New Zealand, and have been settling in well. Risa has recently started school, and she seems to be doing well despite everything she has been through. Ayako is as strong and resolute as we imagined.

In addition to welcoming the two of them into our family, Charlie’s final contribution to the world is our granddaughter, Anna (安和), which means ‘safety and peace’ in Japanese. We are so happy and grateful that a part of Charlie is going to live on and hopefully see a brighter future than his father.

She tells us the name includes the character 和, which was selected as the character of the year in Japan. It can be read as ‘wa’, and means harmony or peace, but also stands for Japan. It seems like a very fitting choice of character for her. Interestingly, I was doing some research and the first name for Japan was Wakoku; given to them by the Chinese. However, unbeknownst to the Japanese at the time, the characters used to write this were 倭国, literally meaning the land of the dwarves or the land of the bent over/ submissive people, but with the implication of the land of barbarians. Once this was realised, the Japanese changed the characters in the 8th century for Wakoku to 和国 instead, which suggests the land of harmony and peace. As the character of the year, I do think that it is fitting and I hope that Japan will find peace and harmony again after the turmoil that it has been through.

Ayako has been translating the Japanese news for us, which has been interesting. There is a lot of international support for the rebuild, and it does seem to be progressing surprisingly quickly. There is little mention of specific facts, and instead the promotion of the ‘We are Japan’ programme has taken centre stage. This initiative is focused on the future and the creation of positive feelings about the resilience and strength of the Japanese people. It does have quite a strong nationalistic ring to it, but given the circumstances, I think it’s understandable.

I have decided that this is a good time to finish my contributions to my son’s blog and focus on the future. On behalf of my son and my family, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the interest you have shown in my son and for the support given to him and our family. We hope that nothing like this every happens again, and our prayers go out to the people of Japan. We would like to visit Japan someday to see the country our son loved so much, but may wait until our Granddaughter is able to benefit from the experience as well.

Take care and never take life for granted. We have had a firsthand lesson in how precious and unpredictable life can be, and have renewed our commitment to appreciating each and every day as it comes.

Kindest regards,

Gordon McKenzie and family



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