Celebrating Mom's 97th Birthday
Mom's life began in a mountain village near the city of Matsuyama, the tenth and last child soon to be given to her older sister to be raised in Tokyo. She grew up during violent, turbulent times, but survived bombings, neglect, and near starvation. The end of the war liberated her. Like many other Japanese, for the first time she was able to imagine how she might make a life free from the oppression of the military state and emperor worship. It was a time of when everything was in flux, presenting the opportunity to do things that had never been possible. She defiantly rejected a proposed marriage to a doctor and went looking for a job.
Knowing a little English, my mother boldly sought work at the U.S. General Headquarters, and when an American she met there offered her a ticket to a Beethoven concert she took a chance and went with him. When some time later he asked her to marry, she decided that she would take on that challenge too and accepted his proposal. My grandparents must have been moved by the new space that existed in society, because even though marriage was still not allowed between most Americans and Japanese, they allowed the former enemy to move into their home.
The American, who became my father, was also crossing boundaries and stepping into the unknown when he decided to marry a Japanese, have children with her, and live with her family in Japan. We, the children, were the fruits of mom and dad's revolutionary actions. Born amidst the flowing love of her family we were seen as flowers amidst the ashes, new life springing forth with hope and promise from the devastated land.
Mom could not have known how far she would go from the mountain village where life started. Some time later she found herself in a small city in Western Massachusetts, living among white Americans, deprived of all the comforts of her culture. But she was a Dragon Mom and poured her heart, soul, and little body into raising good children in her new country. She went to work and overcame barriers to rise as an Asian woman. We knew that we were everything to her, and she was the best possible mother for us, and we celebrate her 97 years here gracing us with her presence.