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December 06, 2013


Sorry for your loss; glad you were able to remember - and articulate - this much about your father. I've never written about mine, and don't know what I would have to say . . .

this is a really beautiful and thoughtful memoir LJ, you have done great credit to your father. it's quite an interesting life he led.

so sorry for your loss.

I expect to be called upon to provide the eulogy for my dementia-stricken mother once she passes on, and I hope I can do the same wonderful justice to her life that lj has generously provided to his father's life.

I have many thoughts regarding Alzheimer's disease and its depredations and the many ways dementia presents itself (some ruefully funny), but just this one for now:

"He was 88, about to turn 89, and when I spoke to him, he would always say 'where are you calling from?' and I'd say 'Japan, dad' and he would ask how long I had been there, and I'd say 20 years and he'd say 'wow, has it been that long?', but that seemed more like Dad being dad rather than someone whose memory was shot"

This is heart-rending, and I can't speak to what your Dad was doing in that conversation but I've come to realize that my mother, for example, despite having no short-term memory and now losing even her long-term memory (except in dreams, from whence she awakes convinced of the reality of the dreams -- perhaps of her past -- and physically combative that her immediate surroundings -- in her home of 54 years with her grown children -- are unrecognizable and perhaps even a plot to deceive her -- thus the anti-psychotic medication before bed, which after a few days of taking care of her, the caregiver feels like downing a handful too) retains in her more serene moments the ability to exhibit all of the social cues of following and understanding conversations and cloaking the fact through the normal social cues and body language that she really doesn't comprehend many trains of thought and when comprehension is there, it vanishes within minutes.

This chimera of understanding is all the tougher because she retains the ability to speak in full sentences, whereas many dementia patients go completely mute at a certain stage and lose all sense of self and/or projecting that self through social interaction.

One last observation for now -- dealing with my mother is so much like dealing with a 2-year old. Her appetite has decreased considerably and one reason is that her 85-year old taste buds are kuputnik and so she reacts instead to the texture of foods, making a horrible face and spitting out a bolus of food, even something she had loved all her life.

It reminds me of my son when he was two.

However, the little minx loves ice cream and is able to manipulate the eating process to get to the ice cream -- "I'm not hungry." "Just two more bites of meatloaf, Mom and then there will be ice cream." "Why?" "Because its good for you." "Why are you doing this to me?"

I feel like I'm waterboarding her at the dinner table and then after that struggle, here comes the ice cream and she's all smiles and voracious, and as agreeable as the day is long.

Sometimes I remind her that she forced, I say forced, us to eat our damnable peas or no dessert for us and she'll look at me and say "Well, I apologize for that."

And well she should for I am scarred. ;)

Given my druthers, she'd get ice cream at every meal but then the arguments start among the siblings and ... well ... unhappy families are unhappy each in their own way, Tolstoy wrote, and my family's unhappiness is spelled the same way as my brother's name, but for reasons (a series of bad life decisions) of his own doing he lives with my mother and thus much of the care-giving has fallen to him by default though we have outside caregivers in the house for roughly 50 hours a week to help out.

We tip toe around him, seething, but realizing he has us by the cojones to some extent because placing my mother in a facility would be like trying to bathe a cat.

Long history, best left unsaid.

My father was the same age as yours. WWII vet, career Army, dead at 84 in 2009.

It's interesting to me to read sons on their taciturn fathers. The expectation of emotional availability is so different for men, now. I admire men who learn to do it having been raised by men who rarely spoke of anything intangible.

Thanks for sharing your memories of him.

I'm so sorry for your loss, LJ. This is a wonderful tribute.

Speaking of coincidences -- from the timeline, it looks as though my parents were meeting at UW grad school at the same time your parents were meeting. Tangent trajectories.

Another tangent is that my mother's elder sister's first husband was a Nisei, born in Hilo. He and his brother were living in southern California in December 1941, but they weren't interned -- they were in the early group who "volunteered" to move to cities in the interior of the US, in a kind of internal exile. In their case, it was to Chicago, which is where they eventually met my aunt, a free-spirited Wisconsin girl.

My mother was also there, going to the University of Chicago while the others were at the Art Institute, and they were part of a co-op to share food and cooking. Because of this experience, I grew up eating a lot of rice and soy sauce -- my mother, being of German/Swedish descent, had already peeled a *lot* of potatoes before my uncle taught her to cook rice.

From things the family has said over the years, I know that it could be extremely rough to have a marriage between a Japanese-American man and a white woman in the 1950s. You'd think that the Wisconsin of Joe McCarthy would be especially bad, but I do know that my grandfather -- as stalwart a Rockefeller Republican as you can imagine -- backed his daughter and son-in-law 100%, even when it led to things like being refused service or even friendship.

That's a pretty neat bit of history to pass down to the family.Best wishes to you and yours.

Thanks so much for this very moving tribute to your father, lj. I'm so sorry for your loss.

Thank you for sharing a graceful and heartfelt eulogy for your father. He sounds like a remarkable man, someone it would have been an honor to meet.

My condolences to you and your family.

Lj: heartfelt condolences on the loss of your father. I think that at best our parents' true selves are sometimes unknowable to us, so it's a service to the rest of the family to try and reconstruct your experience of them.

Also, it's sometimes a shock to see how much of our parents live on in us.

My best,


Thank you for sharing your memories with us LJ. Your dad must have been an interesting man to know. I have lost both of my parents now and sometimes I feel very sharply that disconnect with the past, with all of the life experiences that they before my time that made my life feel like part of a continuity.

Sorry for your loss.


Beautiful biography of your father, and a reminder of the richness in everyone's, even the most taciturn, personal histories. My deepest condolences for your loss.

Thanks, everyone. I updated the post a bit, my uncle, who came out for the service, said that from Kaneohe to Honolulu, it was just 1 or 2 hour drive.

Thank you , LJ, I'm sorry for your loss.

You put me in mind of how lucky we were. My father-in-law passed in October. He was a veteran of the 442nd; part of the cadre of NCOs, having joined the army in '39 -- to get out of the flower business, I gather.

He moved in with us this past summer, when keeping up the house in Pasadena solo got to be too much. But he was still sharp as a tack, still reading and learning new things, right to the end. (At least he had finally, a couple of years ago, started getting a little gray at the temples.) Dealing with a parent who is struggling with mental issues is an enormous effort for all involved.

I agree with lj's sentiments regarding Dinesh D'Souza, but I don't plan on mentioning him in any eulogies for my beloved, unless there is some reason to note D'Souza as the sole reason for limiting immigration into the country on account of his damage to the national civility.

I don't know that D'Souza sits next to William Bennett at the slots in Atlantic City to try his luck with the lucre he's made off his demagoguery, but if I were Bennett I'd make sure D'Souza wasn't ducking out for a quickie with my wife.

Both of course have safe sinecures with Brett's objective media to preach the sinful nature of the rest of us, while bombing the sh*t out of other brown people.

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