August 09, 2006

Peace Crane

"Guess what I learned at camp?"

"What?"

"I learned how to fold a paper crane."

Her eyes lit up. She reached from her wheelchair to the bookshelf, and retrieved an origami instruction book. "I can fold everything in this book, except I've never been able to figure out the crane."

"Would you like me to show you?"

"Yes, please!"

And so, for the next hour, we folded paper cranes. Her 80 year-old hands displayed remarkable agility. Some of the folds were difficult, and a few of the cranes were askew, but a couple of them were almost perfect.

Remarkably, my friend has maintained a positive, cheerful outlook. As a teenager, she, like most Japanese-Americans during World War II, was forced to live in an internment camp. Yet, despite this injustice, she has no bitterness.

After the war, she experienced prejudice and racism. Restaurants wouldn't serve her. This also did not make her bitter.

Now, she is confined to a wheelchair. Diabetes has claimed one foot, and is threatening the other. Even this has not made her bitter.

I asked if she knew the story about Sadako and the paper cranes. She knew bits of it, but not much. I told her that I had learned the story so that I could tell the children at camp. I told it to her now....

During World War II, a girl was born in Hiroshima. Her parents named her Sadako. When the atomic bomb was dropped, Sadako survived, but later, when she was 11, she was diagnosed with leukemia.

Sadako heard that a person who folds 1,000 paper cranes would be granted a wish. Sadako's wish was that she could live, so she started folding. Her body grew weaker, but Sadako never gave up. Even so, she died before reaching 1,000.

Inspired by her hope and courage, Sadako's friends continued Sadako's work until all 1,000 were completed. They made a wish on Sadako's behalf: that there would be no more bombs and no more wars, only peace on earth.

My friend liked the story. I assured her that it was true. She smiled.

As I left, I realized that it's even truer than I had originally thought. It's true in my friend, who, like Sadako, has remained hopeful for the future despite her circumstances. It's true in all those who continue to work for peace.

peace crane

3 comments:

Guido said...

glad you are back.

jo(e) said...

Lovely.

peripateticpolarbear said...

lovely. And I always wanted to know how to fold those things.