After living in Hawaii for over 40+ years my parents said goodbye yesterday and moved to Japan.
What’s amazing about this story is that if you knew my parents, you would know that this is a big deal. When most people at their age are trying to enjoy retirement, my parents packed their suitcases (let’s be fair: they shipped a bunch of their things ahead of time), said goodbye to their family, friends, and well-established lives and headed out for a new adventure.
My parents are what you would call “experienced,” honored citizens. They don’t move as fast as they used to and have both admitted that traveling is difficult. A lot of times when I ask my Dad how he’s doing, he replies in his deep, low voice, “I’m tired.”
They have always been that quiet, simple couple that enjoyed watching television and movies together at home rather than going out. I was extremely happy when they flew to Oregon for Michelle and I’s wedding and again to Omaha Nebraska for my brother’s college graduation. But that was over 6 years ago. If you asked them if they enjoyed traveling, they would tell you that they are still trying to recover from the last trip.
So why would they make such a huge life change?
It all started with a dream and vision. Dad said it was about 10 years ago (Mom would probably dispute that) where they felt called to go to Japan. At the time, they had made a lot of friends with the Japanese congregation of their Church. They felt a connection to the people and culture. I recently discovered that they had traveled to Japan years ago, after they got married. It was a trip that they both remember fondly. So 10 years go, they started to dream out loud and question, “What if we moved to Japan?”
Dream on hold
Being realistic, well-reasoned people (which I am not), my parents’ dream to move to Japan seemed far fetched. They had a great life in Hawaii. Most of their family and friends were there. They didn’t like to travel and go on adventures. They don’t like change. They said they were too old.
When there’s a will, there’s a way
But they never closed the door to their dream. No matter how crazy or unreasonable it might have seemed to them, they couldn’t shake the idea. By being open to the possibility of moving to Japan, they made big moves that helped move them closer and closer (whether they knew it or not).
One of the major changes they made was moving from their home of over 30+ years to a smaller condo. It forced them to deal with a lot of their things they had collected over the years, but more importantly, they let go of the emotional and financial attachment they had with the house.
Another big change happened when my Dad shut down his company that he had been running for a long time and started a new job. This new job had some overseas transfer opportunities that included Japan. They started talking about their dream again and Dad sent in some applications. Over the next 5 years he continued to apply until finally last year he found a match.*
*Side Note: It just so happened that the area where they are moving to in Japan is the same area where my mom’s family is originally from, and a place that both Dad and Mom had visited on their beloved trip.
The combination of big life changes and seizing opportunities made the move possible.
Never too old
My parents’ move is very inspiring to me. I’ll be honest, when we first heard about their dream to live abroad, I thought it was a nice sentiment but didn’t think too much of it. As more and more things started to happen, I started to realize that despite the challenges they foresaw for themselves, they did everything they needed to do to make their dream a reality.
My mom stood in front of her church congregation recently and said, “When we thought we were too old to do something like this, God made a way.”
Though they realized that their age is a valid reason for not moving abroad, they never let that stop them. What my parents did to prepare themselves for their journey reminds me of one of our favorite quotes:
Don’t let any excuses prevent you from something you believe in, something that is important to you. Make it happen.
My parents did.