After many false starts and stops, the day finally arrived for my son, Max, to leave his home in Stoneham and begin his new life in Japan. His hard work and dedication to his musical education from Stoneham High School through Berklee College of Music has culminated in this huge milestone. It’s hard for me to believe the day has come for him to go.

     Last year, a ten day trip to Japan proved very fruitful for my son. He travelled by himself to Tokyo, where he had the time of his life. He fell in love with the culture. He felt welcomed even though he was a stranger in a strange land. He turned a ten day vacation into a networking business trip. Using connections he made along the way, he negotiated a contract for employment at the prestigious Tokyo School of Music. He is now a member of the faculty at the school where he will begin teaching this semester.

     This has been a lifelong dream for Max. Through perseverance and sheer force of will he made this happen. By studying with masters of the craft, he gained a deep understanding of music theory and the roots of jazz. His teachers saw his potential and gave him the tools needed to elevate himself above the crowd. He realized surrounding himself with the best is the best way to learn. Not only did he learn from them, but he acknowledged his deep appreciation of them for sharing their knowledge.

     At age twenty-two, Max will be the youngest faculty member at the Tokyo School of Music. The school is excited about the American perspective my son will bring to the students. Max’s passion for music won’t disappoint them. His passion for teaching at such a young age will inspire a future generation of musicians who will get much more than an education in music theory and an appreciation for improvisational jazz.

     Getting my son situated on the other side of the globe was no easy task. Packing a lifetime into one suitcase, as difficult as that sounds, was actually the easy part. Passports and work visas are a different story. A vacation visa is easy to obtain, but a work visa has to be approved by the government of the country you’ll be working in. Add the language barrier into the mix and you encounter frustration at every turn. After a few tense weeks of postponements, it seemed his dream living and working in Japan was going to remain a dream. But because he’s Max, somehow everything fell into place at the last minute. The next thing I knew I was dropping off my son at Logan Airport, suitcase and guitar in hand, with a one-way ticket to Tokyo. Our farewell at the entrance to Japan Airlines was full of happy tears, heartfelt hugs and a handful of I Love Yous. My wife and I left the airport and headed to Fusion Taste for a celebratory sushi dinner in honor of our son’s success.

     Memories of Max came flooding back to me. I remember watching my two-year-old toddler as he sat in his stroller in front of our house in Stoneham. The sun was shining brightly in the autumn sky. My baby’s amazing blue eyes were like multi-faceted crystal balls. I looked into his eyes and I tried to see the future. I wondered where the unpredictable road of life would take him. I was lost in a world of possibilities, but my son’s direction was clear from a very young age.

     Max followed a path of his own design. From the time he was a small child he was anxious to begin his own life. My wife and I gave him a solid foundation to build upon. Mentors who guided him early on gave him an abundance of inspiration which took him further than I could ever imagine.

     Although he is living half a world away, we try to communicate regularly through the miracle of modern technology (thank you Mark Zuckerberg). If I really start to miss him, all I have to do is listen to recordings of his original music, and it’s like a part of him is right here touching my heart. I couldn’t be more proud of my son and the man he has become.

     As a parent, we want our children to grow up and become independent, productive members of society. It was my son’s decision to spread his wings and fly across the ocean toward a life most of us only dream of. His accomplishments at such a young age have left him with a lifetime ahead to achieve more goals, with time left over for even more dreams to come. Where ever the long and winding road of life may take him, he will always have a home in our hearts. Sayonara, Max!


One thought on “Sayonara

  1. Cousin this was a great article. I read it with tears welling up in my eyes because I remember Max as a kid and now he is a man on the adventure of a life time. I think that you and Cilla did a fantastic job with both your boys. The best thing is that you gave them both the freedom to explore their passions and artistic creativity. I don’t know, maybe you said something like my parents said when I wanted to follow music, “it’s not secure enough find something to fall back on”. You know what, I didn’t follow my dream. I have a hunch you and Cilla did not say that. The best thing a parent can say to their kids is, “Go for it” “Do what you love” and I applaud you both for the kind of great people you are. I am watching my 17 yr old son trip and fumble, but I keep saying, “Go for it” “Do what you love”, Max is an amazing man and so brave. God will see him through all of it. I believe that.

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