My mother passed away suddenly last week and we had a funeral yesterday.
Even though she passed away suddenly, she was already 84 years old and had been suffering from heart problems for about 5 years, and I think she had been slowly dying since then.
She also did not want to live any longer, of course I feel sad, but I am also relieved that she did not have to suffer at the end of her life.
In fact, I think I have some problem as a human being because I felt sadder when my cat Neneko died of illness the year before last.
However, my mother herself was much sadder when her cat Torazo died than when my grandmother passed away, so maybe it’s not so surprising.
My mother also suffered from pet loss when Torazou passed away, so we are both in pet-loss.
I think I became somewhat aware of death when I was about 3 years old, but I clearly realized that this is what death is all about when I was 8 years old.
In elementary school, students grow morning glories in the first grade, sunflowers in the second grade, loofahs in the third grade, etc. I was in the second grade and was growing sunflowers in the school field.
One day in August during summer vacation, a typhoon hit, so I went to the field alone the next day to check on the sunflowers.
Then I lightly touched the stem at the base of the sunflower and it snapped off. “I broke it! What should I do?” I was in a panic and I forcibly tied the broken stem to a bamboo pole with a piece of string, then went home.
One day in September, after the summer vacation, we all decided to go check on the sunflowers during class.
“Oh no! My sunflowers must have withered!” I went to the field with the teacher and the other students, feeling extremely nervous, but on the surface I was calm.
When I arrived at the field, I saw that all the sunflowers had withered and turned brown, with sunflower seeds on the parts that had been flowers.
And I instantly realized that people and sunflowers are the same, and that one day they will all come to an end, whether it comes early or late, but in the end they will all end the same way.
Having realized such things at the age of eight, I had lost the meaning of life and became a somewhat unmotivated child.
Looking back, the very act of creating art is an act of contemplating the meaning of life, and perhaps it was a natural progression that I became a contemporary artist.
There were several reasons why I came back to Japan after living in Shanghai, but the main reason was that my mother repeatedly told me to come home.
Now that I have completed my role of taking care of my mother’s final days, I would like to think carefully about where and how I would like to spend the rest of my life.
The next exhibition is scheduled for the spring, so I can take my time during the winter to create the artworks.