FUKUOKA – Michiaki Matsubara’s heart raced when his daughter and her husband brought a motorbike to his home.
One look at the blue body made Matsubara realize it was the same model his eldest son was driving when he was killed by a drunk driver 18 years ago.
The question that immediately came to Matsubara’s mind was: why would anyone bring a symbol of such misery into their home?
Her second daughter, 46, and her husband, 42, who run a motorcycle shop, visited Matsubara’s home in Fukuoka in August last year.
Matsubara, 75, slowly stood up after hearing his daughter’s voice at the entrance. He then left the house.
DEATH BEFORE MARRIAGE
The son, Kazuaki, was 31 and was returning home when he died in a traffic accident. He was to meet his fiancee’s parents five days later.
Matsubara had kept Kazuaki’s motorcycle, with its bent frame and broken wheel, in the garage of his Fukuoka home. He felt that parting with the motorcycle would represent an eternal farewell to the son.
But Matsubara also knew that the motorbike’s presence would be a constant reminder to the bereaved family of the harrowing accident.
After several years, Matsubara decided to ask his son-in-law to delete the memory.
SLOW RESTORATION PROCESS
When the daughter and son-in-law showed up with a motorcycle, Matsubara wondered why they had brought this particular model to him.
The son-in-law asked Matsubara if he could “say what it is”.
Matsubara was intrigued by the question.
The son-in-law then said, “It’s my brother-in-law’s motorcycle.
Matsubara was stunned.
But a red sticker on a front fork and a yellow sticker on the rear fender looked familiar.
The son-in-law explained that he spent four years collecting the parts needed to restore and repaint Kazuaki’s motorcycle.
Based on old images of the machine, the son-in-law recovered the same stickers that Kazuaki had stuck on the machine.
Matsubara couldn’t say anything other than “Thank you”.
His wife, Kumiko, 73, stood beside him shedding tears.
A JOYFUL JOURNEY
When he was in his thirties, Matsubara began commuting to work by motorbike.
He said his happiest moments were riding alongside his two daughters and Kazuaki after getting their driver’s license.
A few years ago, Matsubara realized he was getting too old to skillfully steer his beloved big bike. He consulted with his second daughter and her husband to find a motorcycle that was easier to handle.
The replacement turned out to be Kazuaki’s restored motorcycle.
Three months after that visit, the couple invited Matsubara for a ride on Kazuaki’s motorbike on a route the father and son had previously taken together.
When Matsubara rode with the daughter and the son-in-law, he sensed that Kazuaki was with them.
When the three reached a rest area, the girl asked Matsubara if he knew what day it was.
The joy of the trip had made Matsubara forget that Kazuaki had died that same day.
The father put his hand on the motorcycle and apologized to Kazuaki.
He said he heard his late son say to him, “Don’t go so fast.