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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Grow

DNA Part 3: It is not over until the strong women say so!

Updated: Jan 29, 2020

So far, I have talked about the accomplishments (or lack of) of the men involved in the DNA process. Now let's get to what the women brought to the gene pool.

As I said, my mother was not athletic, but when she did break her wrist playing kickball with my nephew, she was already retired and still playing kickball! Tough! Her elder sister, Helen, is now 96 and is living alone, cuts her grass (which is about an acre and a half...figure that out on yourselves Japanese readers...or I will make it easy for would put eight or ten houses on this amount of land).

My mother's family were the Whirleys originally from England and Ireland. Actually, I think this part of the family really looks Irish. When I lived in Chicago (which has a huge Irish population) people always thought I must be Irish. I always took it as a compliment! I like the look of the Irish.

As far I know, there are no athletes in this family line but anyone connected with the Whirleys will know they have their own special attributes...loving, kind, generous, funny, and unique!

Their biggest gifts occur in the form of language. They seemed to create their own words for many things or warp the current understanding so badly that you thought maybe you were wrong!

My grandmother Whirley was perhaps the original Emily Litella from Saturday Night Live. She actually said, "Oh, that is terrible! SHAKE MARILYN MONROE!" It reminds me of what my TOEFL students hear and what is actually said on the recording...SHAKE, RATTLE, AND ROLL.

To this day, when I give an English lesson, I have to stop and think, "Is this the right word or is this Whirley English?"

But perhaps this was their gift: language is love people is very precise. A gift I really appreciate from them!

On to the Murao side......Finally, we struck Athletic GOLD!

My children's maternal grandmother was very shy to tell her achievements in the past but as I said, she was born and grew up in Kamakura, Kanagawa. Side note- we almost moved there when we moved to Japan from the US. More on that later.

She said during WW2, she and her schoolmates would go to the shrine and pray for the American defeat. This was only natural since she was Japanese and her father was in the Navy. On the other side, my family was definitely praying for the defeat of Japan and Germany. It all depends on which side of history you happened to be born.

My mother-in-law, Eiko Murao, is one of the most loving, kind, and easy-going people I have ever met in Japan. It is easy to laugh and enjoy life with her. She is very shy about her own accomplishments but her life was exciting and also revolved around the sea.

Her father was in the Navy and she grew up by the sea in Kamakura. Later, her father in his retirement from the navy was given a position to be a caretaker of a famous Shogunate's (like a Governor) palace in Hirado City, one of the islands of Nagasaki (near where the Murao family lived). Keep your notes, Nancy Drew!

We visited Hirado many times and I was thrilled as it was one of the most beautiful places I had seen in Japan. On the first visit, we were greeted by members of my mother-in-law's family, the Terayamas. Her cousin owned the local bookstore and took us out for some of the best sushi I have ever eaten! Plus, Hirado is home to some of the very early churches in Japan and the views are breathtaking. The Portuguese came there early on and brought Christianity and pound cake that they call, Castella, which remains famous from the Nagasaki region.

We visited her family "home" which sat on top of a hill and was the caretaker cottage beside the town "castle". It is a tourist spot and had one of the best views imaginable of the bay. This was her daily life and daily view!

Eiko Murao's family "home" beside the Shogunate Castle!


View from the Shogunate Castle Hirado City, Nagasaki.
Eiko's view each morning! What a way to wake up!

From junior high and high school, this was her home. Young Eiko was good at athletics! Really good...She won the National Title in the 100-meter dash in 12 Seconds. It is really fast! Even now and you think this was a long time ago - before enhancing shoes or high tech sportswear. Omedetto! Congratulations!

From the London Guardian recently "At a sprint、the fastest among us can sprint 100m at a speed of 15.9 mph, or between 13-14 seconds. That might sound fast, but it doesn’t mean we’re ready to take on the champions. The Olympic qualifying time for London 2012 was 10.18 seconds in the men’s race and 11.29 seconds for women." Grandmother Eiko was clearly Olympic material at her time.

In Mashu's blog, he is happy to say that Hidetoshi (his father), Sanshiro and himself can all match HER goal of 12 seconds.

OK! Now we have SOMETHING...SPEED! She was amazing! Still is! Great, we found some gold (even if it wasn't pirate gold!)

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