Memories of my mother
My oldest memory was in 1942 or 1943 when I was two plus years old. We were at a restaurant in Washington, D.C. having dinner with a couple. Mom and Dad were there and I was a tag-along. At first it was a normal dinner conversation, until mom’s voice changed. When I looked into her face, there were tears flowing down her cheek. I had never seen mom cry. I looked at the face of the friend and saw she too was crying. “Mommy, why are you crying?" The tears stopped and she became strong again and told me her friends were moving to the west coast. “Can’t you write or telephone?" I asked. We will try, she said. I was a teenager when I learned this was a Japanese couple subject to relocation and incarceration of Japanese Americans.
During the rest of our time in Falls Church, Virginia, my father worked at the Pentagon. Every day we drove to the bus stop and waited for his return. Mom had a beautiful voice and sang her song about waiting for Daddy -- Jarryl, Jan, and our dog Jet. We laughed and sang together until we saw Daddy.
Time flew until the war ended when we left the east coast, moving west where it was warm. I was afraid to go, but Mom hugged me and said I would love it. I believed her.
A whole new world opened up in Hawthorne, California, and Mom was a major player in my life. She organized “teaching parties” for my friends and I. The first one was a program that taught us to think before we react. Slight of hand tricks made us think we had to clean up a mess and we ran before we analyzed. The lessons were a great tool in my future.
In fourth grade I went to four different schools as the need for schools exceeded completed construction. My sister Judy was born and we moved to Whittier, California.
In this town Mom seemed to blossom as we were all in school and she began to work part-time jobs, taking the annual census, becoming an activist collecting signatures for child-safe sidewalks, organizing PTA fairs, including a show where she was a Charleston dancer. She was a Girl Scout mother, a designer of cabinet ideas for the home, and a strict ruler of the time her teenage daughter and son had to be home on school nights.
Mom’s first full time position was a school secretary, and later an office manager. She supported her 17-year old daughter taking a college sociology class that included travel to eight countries.
Every morning Mom cooked our family breakfast. Before Dad left for work he leaned over Mom, hugged and kissed her as he said, “I love you” and waved good-bye. We all felt that love.
Mom was always the gift giver at Christmas and never left my side. She came to our Massachusetts wedding when I was 50 and watched the kids while we took a one-day honeymoon. Mom answered all calls for help until we lost her to Alzheimer’s.
It isn’t easy to recover memories after so many years, but I am so grateful I did.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.