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My Mamaws Goodbye


This is not an experience that I personally witnessed, but one that my husband had, and shared with me.

On June 24th 2017, I received one of the worst knocks at my door, that I'll never be able to forget.

It was one of my uncles coming over to inform us that my Mamaw had just passed away that late evening. We suspect it was from a heartattack, that she must of had while taking her nightly bath.

It was a very hard time for me and my family during this time, as my Mamaw meant the world to all of us, and she was the glue to our family. I grew up living beside her, and considered her as a second mother to me.

I'd like to add that my Mamaw was full Japanese, and was from Okinawa Japan, which is where she lived when she had met my Papaw, back when he served in the Army, in Vietnam.

Unfortunately I don't really know much about my Mamaw's life when she lived there, as she apparently was a very secretive woman. So as far as knowing her religion and beliefs then, I'm at a lost. I do know that as she lived here in America, she considered herself to be a Christian woman.

Now onto the experience.

It had now been 2 days after my Mamaw had passed away, with it now being June 26th 2017.

I had yet again cried myself to sleep that night, at the foot of the bed, and my husband and 2 year old daughter were sleeping at the head of the bed. My husband said he was restless this night for some reason, and as he looked over at me, he noticed someone standing right above my head, looking down at me.

He started to feel uncomfortable, as he didn't know who he was looking at, and why they were in our room.

As he laid there in bed, with our daughter sleeping in his arms, he watched as this young woman he realized, reached her arm out to touch my head, and bent down to give me a kiss.

Shocked over what he's seeing at this time, he watches as this young woman looks over to him, and then starts to walk over to the side of the bed, where she reaches out to touch our daughter (my husband said at this point, he was holding onto our daughter tightly, not sure of what was happening), and bends over to give her a kiss on the head as well.

My husband feeling nervous by this point, over what he's seeing, said that after this woman kissed our daughter, she stood there and looked over at him, when all of a sudden he said he felt flooded with emotions, to the point of being in tears.

He said that he felt very emotional at this time, and didn't understand why he was feeling that way, as the woman then started to walk out of our room, and disappear past our door.

The next morning my husband was telling me about what he saw the night before, and described what the young woman looked like. I quickly searched on my phone to find an old picture I had of my Mamaw, when she was in her 20's, and showed it to him. He was so shocked to see that she was without a doubt, who he had saw last night.

After he told me what all he saw, I knew that it had to be my Mamaw coming to say goodbye to me and my kids one last time. I was very close to her, to where she always worried about me like a mother does her child. So I knew that it made sense that she would come see me one last time, to make sure that I'm ok.

As for the way my husband felt when she had looked over to him, I told him that I believe that it would have been her way of telling him to take care of me and our kids.

I went back over to visit with my Papaw afterwards, and noticed when I was walking through the yard, that there was a candle lit in the window of the living room. I asked one of my aunts about its purpose, and was speechless over what she told me.

Like I said, our family doesn't know what religion or faith my Mamaw had before moving to America, but apparently in some religion for Japanese people (I'm not 100% on the details of this religion, so please correct me if I'm wrong in any of it, as I'm very interested in knowing more about it) they do some kind of memorial type thing, for like 30 days, or maybe longer, where they place a candle in the window of the family's home, to be a light/beacon for the lost loved one, to find their way back home (again, I'm unsure of the details, so anyone that knows more on this, I hope you can let me know more on it). But during this time frame, I want to say that it's said to be when the dead is able to say their goodbyes to the family, and something about family not being able to travel anywhere during this time frame, as it is bad luck? There's more to their beliefs on this, but with me not being sure on the details, I rather not write more on what I'm not 100% sure of.

Granted we weren't sure what beliefs Mamaw had before moving to America, my aunt (her daughter) learned about this from one of our Japanese relatives (we don't really have that much contact with that side unfortunately), and said that though my Mamaw considered herself to be of Christian faith, choose to partake in this type of memorial when my brother past away, so my aunt wanted to light the same candle for her mother, that she lit for my brother.

My whole point on bringing this up this belief, was because I was told that this candle was put in the window last night, the same night my husband saw my Mamaw. It so happens that we live right next door to my grandparents, so in my head, hearing about this candle, made me think that somehow it helped guide my Mamaw to me that night. I'm sure I'm probably overthinking it, as I know others have lost loved ones who visit them without having a candle, but I just thought the timing of it was interesting.

Something that I did start to notice after my Mamaw passed, was how our bedroom lights would constantly flicker, to the point of cutting off and on a lot. It would do this on off throughout the day, at different times. We could never find a reason for it, and found it strange that it didn't happen until after my Mamaw had passed away. So I wondered if it was her checking in. But after a few months of this going on, it eventually stopped happening. We didn't change the light bulb, or do anything that should have changed anything, so it made me even more curious if it really was my Mamaw. Though I do not believe she's a ghost in anyway, just only popping in to check up on me.

I hope I didn't go too off topic with this submission, and hope that I wasn't way off on telling what I heard about the memorial (not sure what it's called exactly) some Japanese people do for their loved ones.

My Mamaw was truly a very amazing woman, who I'm blessed to have had help raise me. I hope y'all enjoy reading about this amazing experience, I only wish I was able to have witnessed.

Merry Christmas to everyone!

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The following comments are submitted by users of this site and are not official positions by Please read our guidelines and the previous posts before posting. The author, Twilight1011, has the following expectation about your feedback: I will read the comments and participate in the discussion.

Twilight1011 (9 stories) (315 posts)
5 years ago (2019-06-14)
Ms_st0308, thank you. I'm also sorry to hear about your loss. It being a little past a year now, I know how fresh it can still all seem, especially if you allow yourself to fall into the thoughts of what you were going through this time last year, during that hard time. Well that's what I did, and do, that's why I mentioned it. But I agree, I do feel that my Mamaw is still around me, not as a loss spirit or anything, but just looking over me as she would in life, now in death. It does give me a sense of peace too. I'm glad you got to have a relationship like how mine was with my Mamaw, with your Poppa. It's truly a bond that can never be broken, even in death.
ms_st0308 (6 stories) (66 posts)
5 years ago (2019-06-11)
I'm so sorry for your loss. My Poppa died May 17, 2018, and he and I had the kind of relationship you described with your Mamaw. I also call my grandmother Mamaw and she and I are very close too.☺️ I truly believe that our loved ones still visit us and check on us. I know you are thankful for your Mamaw's visit to you that night.
CreoleEmpath (3 stories) (12 posts)
5 years ago (2019-01-29)
Twilight, Thank You for your kind words.

Lady-glow, I too, thought of the cremation process. In the past, I've contemplated it, but since seeing my grandmother move, it's made me question it biologically. Also, my mother, her daughter, who witnessed her smile, changed her mind about cremation and she was set on it for years.
MysticFrance (5 stories) (95 posts)
5 years ago (2019-01-08)

Yes, that's right. WW2 was during 1935-1940's. My father was a WW2 baby and Japanese invaded our country, the Philippines.

Anyway, about what you made, the vase with your grandparents' photos and candle, we have the same thing here. It means remembering someone who passed away. Usually, we hang framed photos (of the people still alive) on the wall. We can also put them on a table, but no candles. When my brother passed away, Mom took away his photo, placed it on a separate table and placed two candles, one on each side.

Thanks for replying. Regards.
Twilight1011 (9 stories) (315 posts)
5 years ago (2019-01-08)
To Lady Glow, MysticFrance, and Jubeele, thank you all for your condolences ❤ I really hate as far as ever taking the time to actually ask my Mamaw anything about her past, I regrettably never did 😳 there's so many questions I wish I knew the answers to from her, so now I'm left with her being a very mysterious woman. I know she lived in Okinawa Japan, and during whatever war was going on in her childhood (I'd like to say it's WW2, but I'm bad at knowing my details on our history. I think the year would have been late 30's through the 40's), her and her family ended up being in one of the American concentration camps. This detail of her past, wasn't revealed to our family, until about 10 years ago, when one of my younger cousins did a essay on her. So not even her own children knew about this. To MysticFrance, the candle lighting your way to the after life, is what I think the purpose was for the candle. Jubeele, I find it fascinating to learn what your mother did after your father passed. To hear how some cultures do certain things in honor of the dead, has always interested me. Though to hear you were told not to leave your room after a certain time, in fear of what you might see, is unsettling to say the least. I remember years before my Mamaw had passed, I had these really beautiful vases, that looked to be Japanese style, and laid them out on a small table setting, with the pictures of my Mamaw and Papaw in between the vases, and I think I even had candles mixed in it too. My reasoning was just being decorative, but when my Mamaw had came over one day, and saw what I had made, she immediately tells me to remove their pictures from it, because to her, it's like I had made a shrine in their memory, like they were dead. I felt so bad that I didn't look at it like that, and had offended her over it. Needless to say, I took their photos away. Thank you for sending some things for me to look into Jubeele, I'll be sure to read them.
Jubeele (25 stories) (885 posts)
5 years ago (2019-01-04)
Twilight, it is hard to lose a loved one and especially when your Mamaw was like a second mother to you. I am so sorry for your loss. It is clear that your Mamaw loved you very much too, so much so that she returned to say her farewells to you and your family.

I'm not sure about the candle in the window but many cultures light candles in memory of the deceased. Perhaps it started as a symbolic gesture to dispel the darkness and then became a way to guide the spirit home to visit loved ones. I've heard that the Japanese have many traditions and customs based on Shinto and Buddhist beliefs. There are some differences in the practices from the Okinawara and Ryukyu Islands.

Perhaps your Mamaw was also acknowledging her Christian faith at the same time when she lit the candle for your brother; in that Christians believe that God is Light and there can be no darkness in His presence. I think the timing of the candle in the window and her visitation was no coincidence. It could be that the flickering lights were also her way of telling you she was checking on you now and then.

I remember my mother, also a professed Christian, surprised me by observing a few traditional Taoist/Buddhist rituals after my father died. She had a shrine set up on a small table at home with his framed photo, a lit candle, food and drink as offerings to appease his spirit when he 'returned' to visit. We weren't supposed to leave our rooms after midnight for three nights following his death. This was because the deities Hak Bak Mo Seong (黑白无常 - "Black and White Impermanence") were expected to arrive to escort his spirit into the Underworld. She wanted to avoid us being frightened - she managed to give me a fright anyway!

I've enjoyed reading your account. Thank you for sharing such a precious and personal experience with us. 😊
MysticFrance (5 stories) (95 posts)
5 years ago (2019-01-02)

I'm sorry for your loss.

All I heard in Japanese tradition is the Toro Nagashi, if you're familiar. But lighting a candle by the window when someone dies, I am not sure. I've read from somewhere that it means, lighting the way of the deceased for the afterlife.

Your mamaw clearly loves you very much. Until her afterlife.

lady-glow (16 stories) (3154 posts)
5 years ago (2019-01-01)
Twilight - I'm sorry for your loss.
This is such a sad and fascinating experience, I'm glad your husband was there to witness the events and that he didn't choose to leave the room running away. Thanks for sharing.

CreoleEmpath - my family believes that, if someone were to ask a dead person to 'loosen up' their body after the onset of rigour mortis, they are bound to see this happening. Who knows? Perhaps the soul still keeps some control of their body after death.
I haven't have a chance to witness this, but what you are saying doesn't sound far-fetched at all.

What worries me a little is the possible reaction of a dead person when they see their body going to cremation. I'm sure they don't feel any pain and hope this is not a distressful experience to go through.
Twilight1011 (9 stories) (315 posts)
5 years ago (2018-12-31)
CreoleEmpath, thank you, and I'm sorry to hear about your loss. I couldn't imagine to have lost my Mamaw on my birthday 😳 I'm sure your birthday will be a sad memory to have to go through, and I hope that you'll be able to make peace with it someday, if you haven't already. I know for me, this past June on my Mamaws 1 year death, was very hard for me than I thought it would be. With yours still being so recent, I know getting through all the first times without them, is always the hardest. I believe what you and your parents witnessed at the wake, was your Maw Maws way of letting you know she's at peace. I'm glad that you were able to notice her sign she gave you. I didn't think I would be able to bring myself to even look at my Mamaw during her wake, but I'm glad I did. I was very happy with how beautiful she still looked. Normally from my past experiences with seeing lost loved ones at this time, like my brother, they never seem to look the same, but I was very happy that this wasn't the case with my Mamaw. I'm glad you loved reading about my experience with her, and want you to know that I'll be thinking of you during your difficult time right now.
Twilight1011 (9 stories) (315 posts)
5 years ago (2018-12-31)
Thank you Miranda, she truly was an amazing woman, who I'll always look up to. I really do believe we had a close connection in life, that before she would go, she would feel the need to check on me one last time. I hate that I personally did not get to witness her last goodbye to me, but I'm still thankful that my husband at least witnessed it, so he could let me have that to be my last memory of her, bringing me peace, instead of the memory I had of seeing her body being taken away from her home.
CreoleEmpath (3 stories) (12 posts)
5 years ago (2018-12-31)
I love your story. My Maw Maw passed on my birthday, August 24, 2018. When I kissed her in the coffin- her lips smiled. I wouldn't have believed it if my mom and dad weren't present. I Googled many times, how that was possible and found nothing. So, I decided it was her way of saying, I'm okay.
Sleeping-with-steve (guest)
5 years ago (2018-12-31)
Hello Twighlight

I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post.

I'm so sorry for the loss of your Mamaw. I think its lovely she came back to say goodbye to you and your family.

She obviously loved her youth and chose to come back young. I'm glad she stayed for a short while with you and your family. It must have been comforting to know she loved you so much.

Thank you for sharing your experience.

You are one of my favourite members.

Best wishes,
😘 ❤ 😘

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