Rana was fluent in Japanese.

Her high school had a good Japanese language program, and Rana joined it enthusiastically. She discovered that she had a natural and strong ability to learn foreign languages.

I think that the Japanese program was the highlight of her high-school experience. So much so, that Rana invited the instructor to her graduation dinner, and the instructor came.

Rana made some friends in Japan through chat groups on the Internet. Rana was also extremely frugal, and she’d saved a lot of money. It was enough that, upon her graduation in 2004, she bought plane tickets and flew to Japan. She stayed several weeks, alternating between surfing her friends’ couches and staying in inexpensive hotels, including the famous Japanese capsule hotels. She emailed me a few photos while she was on the trip. I’m disappointed that I can’t find those messages in my Gmail. I know I didn’t delete them.

When she returned, she gave me a five-yen coin as a souvenir of her trip. She told me it was a good-luck charm. The Japanese for “five yen” is go en (五円), which is a homophone with go-en (御縁), which translates to “luck” or “fortune,” but also roughly to “good relationship,” especially one formed after a serendipitous encounter. That neatly describes how Rana and I came to be and stay in relationship, when I appeared in her mom’s life when she was seven. What a touching little gift.

This coin famously has a hole in the middle, so I stuck it on my key ring. There it’s stayed. When I bought my Volkswagen four years ago and swapped keys on my ring, I photographed the ring with the coin prominently displayed and texted the photo to her. She was pleased that I’d kept it on my ring all these years.

Rana would have been 37 today.


13 thoughts on “御縁

  1. ronian42 says:

    Curiously, I believe that the 5 Yen coin is also the right size for the battery compartments on many Japanese film cameras!

    • Shirley B. says:

      Thanks for sharing. What a thoughtful gift she gave you.
      Having such a tangible thing can be a comfort when you need it. Especially on days like today. Another “first” without her.

        • Greg Clawson says:

          Jim, as you see and handle the coin, you also think about Rana and remember the good times and it helps on the bad days. Prayers for your Family Jim.

        • Shirley B. says:

          I totally understand. My father used to have a flat disc with 4 (also flat) screwdriver-ends on his keyring. It’s been on mine since he died.

  2. Rick Bell says:

    I’m not sure if I quoted these scriptures before but comfort from the bible can never be repeated too much. Matthew 6:10 tells us in The LORDS Prayer that at a certain point in time things will be alike, perfect living conditions. 1 Corinthians 15:26 tells us that the last enemy death will be brought to nothing. I hope this brings you some comfort.

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