About my memoir – Otosan
I know it might seem odd that I’m writing a post all about my memoir. However, people always have questions about it, and I bet you do, too.
So, I’ve tried to cover all the questions I can without giving away too much of the story.
Read on to see if Otosan might be a story you want to (or need to) read!
What is the title?
The title of my memoir is Otosan which is Japanese for father. Even though I was juggling end-of-life care for my mother-in-law and helping my husband recover from stage 3 colon cancer, the interactions with my father-in-law as I began to understand and navigate Alzheimer’s had the most impact on my life during that period.
What is the book about?
What would you do if three independent and strong family members suddenly needed your help and you had to be their caregiver? Would you be able to handle it?
Several years ago, we moved my husband’s parents from a rural part of Japan to live with us in Tokyo in our tiny 800-square-foot (73-square-meter) condo. The book is about how, within a few months, we discovered that my mother-in-law could no longer care for herself and needed to be in a nursing home. We also learned that my father-in-law had Alzheimer’s and couldn’t be trusted on his own.
The story takes you through how we decided to move them. It’s also about navigating the Japanese healthcare system for my mother-in-law while helping my father-in-law transition from a lifetime of farming to retirement in the big city. It’s about how we discovered he had Alzheimer’s and later that my husband had stage 3 colon cancer. Finally, it’s about how I managed to support these three people and how I leaned on spiritual practices to keep my equilibrium.
Why did you write the book?
I always wanted to write about my father-in-law. He was one of the young men who enlisted as a teenager at the end of WWII and volunteered for the special forces that were trained to be kamikaze pilots. At barely 15 years old, my father-in-law probably couldn’t yet imagine marrying anyone, let alone having a son who would marry an American woman one day.
Though my father-in-law’s experience with the war would undoubtedly make a great movie someday, I wrote the book based on the years we lived together. I first met my father-in-law in the 90s, but my memoir starts out in the summer of 2014 when I stayed with him in Hiroshima while my mother-in-law had surgery.
To be honest, I started writing the book that summer, thinking that it would be about my father-in-law’s life. However, as I got to know him, I soon realized that something was not quite right.
A few months later, my mother-in-law went through an unexpected and rapid decline. She couldn’t take care of herself anymore, and we needed to find a facility near our home in Tokyo where she could get good care, and be close enough that we could advocate for her. We moved my father-in-law from Hiroshima to Tokyo at the same time because he couldn’t be trusted to live on his own. Shortly after relocating him to Tokyo, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
Within that same year, my husband discovered that he had stage 3 colon cancer. He chose a chemo-free recovery and we switched to a plant-based diet. When we got to the other side of his recovery, I had a breakdown and had to change what I was doing.
I wrote the book because I know I’m not the only one serving as a caregiver for a family member, and other people might benefit from hearing how we navigated that year.
Who’s in the book?
I had a lot of help along the way from my family, friends, people in our community, and of course, my spirit guides. Some of these helpers are mentioned in the book, but most of the story is based on my interactions with Okasan, Otosan, and Akira.
Okasan is my mother-in-law. Her real name is Reiko, but I always called her Okasan, which means mother in Japanese.
Otosan is my father-in-law. His real name is Masamoto, but I always called him Otosan, which means father in Japanese.
Akira is my husband. He’s the firstborn son or chonan as they say in Japanese.
This is me! And, yes, there is an age difference. Before you ask, I am 18 years younger than Akira.
Where can I buy the book? How much does it cost?
At the moment, you can listen for free to parts of the book even before it’s published. While I was writing the first draft, I shared excerpts on YouTube.
Why would you let people listen to the book for free before it’s published?
One of my friends gave me the idea. I had hit a wall and was ready to put the 1st draft into a drawer and forget about it. However, whenever I talked about my father-in-law, people always asked if I was writing a book. My friend suggested that I start sharing one section at a time.
Sharing the book section by section forces me to show up to the page, and better yet, more people, like you, are getting to know the story.
My experience as a caregiver is NOT extraordinary. Throughout our lives, almost everyone serves as a caregiver in some capacity for loved ones. More than anything, I want you to know you are not alone. You can get support even if you don’t know yet that you need it.
Does your book teach people how your husband recovered from cancer without chemotherapy?
I mention a few things in the book, but not everything. If you’re interested in hearing more about what we did, let me know, and I will share the list of resources we used. However, I am not a doctor and recommend you do your own research. Gerson Institute and Chris Beat Cancer are two good places to start.
Who is this book for?
I can see this book appealing to you if you are a caregiver for a loved one, especially if your loved one has dementia or cancer.
I live in Japan, and therefore, everything is happening here in the context of this culture. So, if you are interested in another culture, especially Japanese culture, you might enjoy the book.
People interested in spirituality will also gravitate to the book because one of the ways that I found the wherewithal or yoyū to get by during that time was through my spiritual practices.
This memoir is not for everyone, and I only want you to spend time listening to or reading it if it’s right for you.
This memoir is for you if:
- You know someone or are caring for someone with dementia and especially Alzheimer’s, or
- You are interested in Japan, or
- You are an expat living in Japan and know that in the not-too-distant future, you will be looking after your in-laws
This memoir is NOT for you if:
- You are turned off by any reference to woo, or
- You think chemotherapy and conventional protocols are the only way people can recover from cancer, or
- You don’t like seeing foreign words in the books you read.
You’ve posted over 30 excerpts. How many more will there be before you finish?
There were 60 sections in my first draft, some longer than others. I will likely combine the shorter sections. So, at the very least, you can expect there to be 50 excerpts.
Where can I get a copy of the book?
At the moment, you can’t. However, you can start listening to the story right now over on YouTube. There are 30+ excerpts ready for your listening pleasure! The final version will be different (I’m editing right now!), but you’ll get the gist.
Who will be publishing your book? Will you publish it in Japan or in the US?
I plan to self-publish the book and make it available via Amazon.
How can I share the story with my friends?
Do you have any friends who might enjoy this memoir? My sister recently asked me the best way to share with people who want to start from the beginning. Here are 2 ways:
- Send them to this page so they can subscribe below. I send 1-2 emails a week with news about the book and all the ways I am finding yoyu as well. In the welcome email, I share with people how they can listen from the beginning.
- Send them to my YouTube channel’s playlist with the first 10 excerpts.
I have another question about the book…
Wonderful! Leave me a comment below, and I will add your question to the growing list!
How do I sign up to get notified when the book is published?
Fill in your name and email below. I will let you know as soon as the book is available. In the meantime, I will share excerpts from the book and other ways to allow more yoyu into our lives.
Subscribe to the Finding Yoyu Updates - and get a free chapter of my upcoming book. I usually send an email once a week with ways we might find or cultivate more yoyu.
About the Author:
Hi! I'm Marci. I have a dedicated spiritual practice, enjoy studying alternative-healing modalities, cooking a whole-foods flexitarian diet, and exploring Japan, where I've lived for 30 years. Learn more about my workbooks for kids, and journals for adults. Also, look for my upcoming memoir Otosan, which chronicles the five years I cared for my father-in-law, a WWII Japanese war veteran, as he navigates Alzheimer’s.