Thursday, August 02, 2012

Friends and family

I have never had any aunts or uncles or cousins... My grandparents lived in the Midwest and my parents moved to California when I was about five. They bought a home in a small community and set about settling in.

I suppose not long after World War II some people would have had reservations about Japanese/Americans and the inter-racial marriage that my parents had. My mother was concerned when they moved to California about how our family would be accepted, how Japanese/Americans were treated on the West Coast. She heard about a Japanese American family that lived down the street so one day she paid them a visit. The wife greeted her with open arms and invited our family on the spot to a birthday party for her youngest son. Thus began a more than fifty year friendship that has gone beyond friendship. The Hiroshige family became our extended family.

When I was little, the two families would get together every Friday night at one house or the other and the fathers would play chess while the mothers chatted or went out shopping. We kids (the Hiroshiges had 4 boys... I wished that they'd had a daughter) played ditch at night and ran around the neighborhood jumping over fences and skittering through neighbors' backyards. No fear of being shot at in those days! As the evening grew late, the adults would team up to play their weekly game of bridge and we children would camp out under the card table with chips and sodas or sit watching late night TV.

Each holiday we celebrated together, a turkey or ham dinner, Japanese rolled rice balls (I thought rice balls were the typical Thanksgiving food when I was little!) Christmas, Easter, New Year's, Thanksgiving, Labor Day... anything for a party! The Hiroshige's Ojiichan (Grandfather) and my Ojiichan, when he was visiting California, would enjoy each others' company and they would speak Japanese to each other which I thought was a wonderful thing to be able to do! I tried dating one of the Hiroshige boys but he was too much like a brother or cousin to have that relationship go any further...

As the years went on, I introduced Tetsu to the Hiroshige family... they were the only American family that Tetsu could speak to (Mr. and Mrs. Hiroshige spoke some Japanese) and after Takumi and Leiya were born, I would take them to the Hiroshige's house near San Diego where they'd moved after retirement and we would spend a couple of days enjoying beach life and Mrs. Hiroshige's (Ann's) cooking.

Yesterday Ann and her youngest son, David made a special trip to come and visit my mother and me. The last past years, I haven't made it down to San Diego... my mother's health wasn't good, my children were no longer interested in spending the day at the beach. I don't think I've seen Ann for nearly 10 years.

But she hadn't changed a bit!!! The years have certainly been kind to her!!

We had such a great day together! Takumi and Bianca came by because Takumi has always hero worshiped David. It was wonderful to hear stories of grandchildren and neighbors, to talk of old times, and laugh about the antics we children used to get into.

I love Ann and David! I always will.

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