During this time of staying at home during the Coronavirus pandemic, I’ve taken the opportunity to go through a few boxes of pictures and mementos passed along from my parents. I found my father’s baby book. The stark comments added by my grandmother are not at all what I’d expect to find in a typical baby book.
Under the topic First Merry Christmas, my grandmother wrote:
“Sad Merry Christmas because Papa was concentrated by the Japanese as a prisoner of war.”
Under the topic Two Years Old, she wrote:
“It is not a successful birthday due to the war.”
Marking the American liberation of Guam from the Japanese occupation, the entry under third birthday reads:
“Lots of different from the second birthday because the Americans have liberated us from the Japanese.”
My father, his siblings, and my grandparents all survived this difficult time in their lives during the Japanese occupation of Guam. My father was too young to remember it, and my grandparents never spoke of it. As my cousin recently reminded me, when topics broached something my grandmother considered too harsh for our young ears, she distracted us with sweets (homemade banana donuts, rosketti, or gum) and changed the subject to something more happy. What little I do know about what my family experienced during this time, I learned from snippets of stories told by my Great Aunt (my grandmother’s sister) later in life and from little clues such as my father’s baby book.