Nightmares & Getting through Another Year

I don’t expect to sleep easy tonight. It’s been a problem for more years than I care to remember.

First there will be the tossing and turning, followed by the inability to get comfortable, no matter what position I try to contort myself into… that will last for anywhere between one and three hours, then come the sweats, first caused by the heat and exertion of all that futzing around and secondly the sweat and my blood turn ice-cold.

Like I said, it’s been going on long enough that I no longer get completely freaked out by it but there are still moments of concern, just because I know it’s coming, doesn’t mean it gets any easier. I don’t remember the first time it happened, I only know that I’ve chosen to suffer through these once yearly night terrors by myself, a lone – solitary figure tilting at the windmills tormenting him in the night.

The cause of all this stress and grief, well – tomorrow is December 7th, and for those of you unaware, it’s the 69th anniversary of Pearl Harbor…… What’s my connection – My grandfather flew that day, and from all accounts he was nothing short of heroic. I remember when I was much younger, sitting at my grandmothers feet as she recounted everything she knew about his time in the service and what he had done that day. It was at once thrilling and terrible.

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She still had all his medals and after one is killed in active duty, the military sends you logs and a bunch of official documentation, so bit by bit and with a little bit of digging you can sort of piece together or at least get a rough idea of what he was doing that day.

The irony was, that fateful Sunday morning was his first time at “The Pearl”, sadly it would also be his last. I never got to meet my grandfather, Pearl Harbor happened well before I was but a twinkle in my mother’s groin – nonetheless, oddly I still feel close to my grandfather, the reminiscences from friends and my folks, my aunts – they all have stories to tell and slowly a picture is formed.

I think it’s like when we read a book, you take all these little pieces of information and construct a mental image, and for you, that becomes the character, meeting my grandfather in real life – he may not be exactly as I “see” him – but the image I carry in my head is who I see when I think of him.

Scores of good men lost their lives the day Pearl Harbor was attacked, each with their own families and stories to eventually be passed down, in what must have been a chaotic and truly horrifying experience. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forget the heroics he displayed that day, flying amongst all the enemies and with what I can only guess must have been mind-numbing terror and sheer madness.

My grandfather’s name was Hirodashi Fujimori, he was a kamikaze pilot and flew in the 2nd wave, successfully launching torpedos against the USS Ohio and the Utah… before plowing his plane directly into the famed US Arizona….

Banzai grandpa… Banzai….

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That’s grandpa, top right, moments before getting into his zero and taking off from the Shokaku, a first line Japanese aircraft carrier.

I’ll end here, because I need to stock up on sushi, gatorade and kleenex to ensure I get through another year mourning the loss of my grandfather.

Have a Great Day

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