“TRICK OR TREAT!”
(** This was a story we told in 2011, three months after Parker was diagnosed with leukemia and his first Halloween battling the disease. We hope you find it as inspiring as we did.)
When you are five years old, one of the best holidays has to be Halloween. You get to dress up in your favorite costume, run to the door and with three simple words, “Trick or Treat” – you are instantly loading up on candy and treats.
However, if you are a five-year-old boy and just diagnosed with Leukemia, Halloween is not quite the same. Nothing is quite the same.
Except in Parker’s neighborhood…
Since Parker didn’t have the strength to go “Trick or Treating”, some very amazing neighbors decided to bring “Trick or Treating” to him. Kathy Talley and her husband Mike, organized Trick or Treating in Reverse for Parker. One by one the neighbors would come to the house and knock on the door. Parker, dressed up as Batman, sat on a big chair in the family room facing the front door. When he heard a knock, would lift himself up as fast as he could, shuffle to the door and yell, “Trick or Treat”. He would open the door and collect candy and treats into his Halloween bag. He was so excited to see who was there each time the door opened!.
And the friends and neighbors kept coming; one by one, knocking on the door, to be greeted by a loud, “Trick or Treat” and a very happy little Batman.
In all, about 40 neighbors made the trek to Parker’s house. After the last knock around 8:30 pm, Parker’s big chair – and much of the floor – was covered with candy, toys and gifts. Parker was happy and completely worn out.
Thanks to their generous friends and neighbors, Mike and Erica were able to tuck their Batman into bed, after a fun-filed night of “Trick or Treating” .. just like any other five-year-old on Halloween.
Hiroshima Peace Memorial (広島平和記念碑 Hiroshima heiwa kinenhi), commonly called the Atomic Bomb Dome or Genbaku Dōmu (原爆ドーム, A-Bomb Dome), in Hiroshima, Japan, is part of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. Fusako said the ruin serves as a memorial to the people who were killed in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on 6 August 1945. Over 70,000 people were killed instantly, and another 70,000 suffered fatal injuries from the radiation.
So I am smiling on the outside but its really difficult being here. And sad. But there is also an overwhelming feeling of peace, hope and optimism.
I asked Fusako about the only buildling standing and she said it was a structure that was at the bomb’s hypocenter. Soon commonly called the Genbaku (“A-Bomb”) Dome(to the right how it looked in 1945), due to the exposed metal dome framework at its apex, the structure was scheduled to be demolished with the rest of the ruins, but the majority of the building was intact, delaying the demolition plans. The Dome became a subject of controversy, with some locals wanting it torn down, while others wanted to preserve it as a memorial of the bombing and a symbol of peace.Ultimately, when the reconstruction of Hiroshima began, the skeletal remains of the building were preserved
Today, got to take photo with Sky Tree, the tallest tower in Tokyo!!!. Tokyo Skytree (東京スカイツリー Tōkyō Sukaitsurī) is a broadcasting, restaurant, and observation tower in Sumida, Tokyo, Japan. It became the tallest structure in Japan in 2010and reached its full height of 634.0 metres (2,080 ft) in March 2011, making it the tallest tower in the world, displacing the Canton Tower,and the second tallest structure in the world after Burj Khalifa (829.8 m/2,722 ft). The height of 634 m (2,080 ft) was selected to be easily remembered. The figures 6 (mu), 3 (sa), 4 (shi) stand for “Musashi“, an old name of the region where the Tokyo Skytree stands.
I enjoyed walking around Sensoji, and we had Soba, Japanese noodle, and also, Tendon, tempura bowl….tempura is fried dish, they fry shrimp, fish, veggies and put soy source on top.
At the end, I got to listen to New Orleans style jazz, too:) Fusako and I talked ALOT about Allison Reinhardt!! Do you remember her? She was the last host I had in my “50 States in 365 Days” Tour!!!! She lives in New Orleans , LA and teaches a group of kids called “Roots of Music”. They use music as a source to grown life skills, teamwork and help at risk youth gain confidence and grow their skills. Its a very special group. Fusako used to work there and knows Allison well!!!! What a small world!!!
Today, Fusako and I took Metro and went to Asakusa. Asakusa is one of the downtowns in Tokyo. In front of the Sensoji Temple, there is a nakamise street where there are all kinds of shopsl When we got there Fusako said to get ready to SHOP. Well, normally I am not wild about shopping but in Japan it is just the coolest experience ever. They had things I had never seen before!!! -I have my backpack and I am ready!!!!
In the pictures below you can see :
1.the traditional Geta Japanese shoes that are worn with kimonas.
2. A Mikoshi is carried by the Japanese people during Shinto style festivals and serves as alter.
3. In the picture with me in the middle with colorful objects that are called Kumade. They are sold in November when people buy them for good fortune. Merchants especially buy them for good fortune for good sales for the next year.
Fusako has the BEST friends!!!! They had a great time teaching me about a yummy dish called, Okonomiyaki (お好み焼き o-konomi-yaki) which is a Japanese savoury pancake containing a variety of ingredients. The name is derived from the word okonomi, meaning “what you like” or “what you want”, and yaki meaning “grilled” or “cooked” (cf. yakitori and yakisoba). Okonomiyaki is mainly associated with the Kansai or Hiroshima areas of Japan, but is widely available throughout the country. Toppings and batters tend to vary according to region. I love it that all the restaurants are very small and cozy – they are everywhere!!! The pancakes were SOOOOOO good and my new friends are awesome!!!
Today I met Mari, one of Fusako’s good friends, who is bravely fighting cancer just like my buddy, Parker. She is just so nice and kind – a very special person. Parker you would love her!!! I told her all about Parker and she really wanted to write him a note. Here it is – just for you Parker!
“Hello, Nice to meet you Parker! My name is Mari from Japan. I usually live and work in Tokyo, but grew up Fukuoka Prefecture in the Western part of Japan. Also I am a patient of breast cancer, and now taking a treatment of women’s hormone and preparing for two operations. I come to Fukuoka sometimes to consult with a doctor.
I took some photos at my church, one of my cat named Cookie, who is 9 years old, and Haneda and Fukuoka Airport when I went to Fukuoka for medical checks.
Thank you so much for an opportunity to join Flat Parker project.
THANK YOU, Mari!!! We all wish you the best in your fight!! FINISH STRONG in all you do!! LOVE, FP!!!
After the Zoo we explored the Ueno Toshogu Shrine which was built in 1616 and is the oldest building in Toyoko. It is also the 2nd most visited shrine in Japan.. The photos will show you many of the beautiful things we saw. Fusako also taught me so much about Japanese culture.
In one photo, I am with a collection of wood boards called “Ema”. People write their wishes for good health, success of business/study, etc and place them in the shrine.
We also saw some really interesting white papers on stick called “Omikuji”. People who tell fortunes sell them for about 1US Dollar and after the person reads their fortune-if what omikuji says is good fortune, then people take it back to their home with them. If they don’t like the fortune, they hang and place it in a shrine like this, and they go home!!! That’s is the way to keep GOOD fortune!!!
For a snack there was ” Fish on a Stick” from a food stand in front of Ueno Toshogu Shrine!!! Not sure I would like to eat that… so maybe I should bring one back for you, PARKER!!!
Today, I am so excited…because Fusako and her friend, are taking me to Ueno – a suburb of Toyko!!! We are going to visit the Toshogu Shrine and the ZOO!!! I picked the ZOO first!!!
We took a walk from Nezu station, and walked to Ueno zoo. Along the way we saw a small “Yaoya” grocery shop for veggies and fruits.
Ueno zoo is the oldest zoo in Japan!!! Fusako grew up in Tokyo area and she used to go there on school trips. Having fond memories of the zoo Fusako was excited to take me there.
We followed Sayaka suggestion and saw many different animals of Asia, but I was just really excited to see Pandas and Nihon zaru. “Nihon” means, Japan, and “saru” mean monkeys. I am pretty sure Parker has ever seen a Panda or Japanese Monkeys!!! They were so much fun to watch!!
Nihon zaru are just so much fun to watch.. We all laughed at their funny antics. In any monkey community, they have “boss” of the group, so it was fun just trying to find one.
I love this ZOO!!!! After seeing lots of elephants we all got excited to see the PANDAS!!! There was a really long line to see them because panda’s are always popular – especially here in Japan! I think we came at the perfect time, because it was LUNCH TIME!!!! You all know that Parker and I like Jif peanut butter and Smuckers Jelly – but Pandas–well they LOVE to eat bamboo.!!! It was fun watching one panda just munching on bamboo! I also thought it was pretty cool to see the back of a panda’s head, Ever seen that before? Fusako and I just love pandas and I know Parker would too!!!!
Today is Parker’s 3 year Cancerversary! It’s a day that we don’t really like to remember because it was the scariest day of our lives. But, we remember it because it helps us see how far the Grace of God has carried us in this journey. It reminds us of all the loving and selfless friends, who have been there for us during the last 3 years. We are so thankful for all the encouragement and support you have given us. It reminds us of the creation of Flat Parker and the family of love and support it has brought to us, it amazes us everyday! It reminds us of all the other wonderful families and children we have met, because we all share this daily struggle with Cancer. We wouldn’t know any of you if it weren’t for Cancer, and we are grateful to have our “Cancer Family”, who understand exactly what we are going through each day.
Thank you to everyone for being with us through the last 3 years! We appreciate the love, support, and prayers for Parker and our family. Our lives are richer and our hearts blessed by all of you!