I am leaving for Kenya tomorrow for 3 weeks of research, meetings and discussions about setting up our first aquaponics greenhouse. I feel a mix of excitement, unease, hope, nostalgia and sheer terror at all the unknowns.

More importantly, my grandfather passed away today. Coming to visit my grandparents every summer from Japan, I remember hot days riding the “twacto” and helping him pick vegetables in the garden. To this day, the smell of freshly cut grass and ripe tomatoes take me back to those memories. Every day he would have corn flakes and buttered toast with jelly for breakfast. I loved that buttered toast and my grandma’s made-from-scratch cooking. He could tell stories for hours about our family history, his childhood on the farm, surviving The Great Depression and cars. Looking back, I think I liked visiting my Nini and Papa so much because amidst my own chaotic life, everything about them was so constant, so content with the simple things. I learned from him that being a good man has little to do with how much money you make or even what you’ve accomplished. Papa did everything with excellence and passion, no matter how small, took time for people, and was truly content. As you pass, know that your life will not be forgotten and you have forever affected those around you. Rest in peace Papa.

It’s strange because normally I go months, sometimes years without seeing my grandparents. Just two weeks ago, I decided to see my extended family in Texas and Arkansas because I would be traveling for Thanksgiving and Christmas. God was present in that decision because little did I know it would be our last meeting on this side. I am thankful for that one last time as I look back on all my memories, trying to celebrate a life well-lived rather than mourning the loss of a loved one.