End of Another Journey

The end of an arduous two weeks for my dad. He passed early this morning after struggling mightily against the pneumonia that struck him in the hospital. We initially came in for abdominal problems, I knew something serious was up and had a quick check at urgent care then went to ER. Turns out gallstones giving him problems and his gallbladder was removed. It should have been a quick procedure and quick healing time. There was some complications, but it went ok. Unfortunately there was more stones and blockage downstream, another procedure took care of that. There were more complication when it should have been getting better. After a total of five trips to OR, all those issues were resolved and things were on the mend. But that much stress was just too much for an almost 90 year old body to deal with, he contracted pneumonia and could not recover from that.

I just wish we could have made it easier on him. At one moment he talked about he wished he could go quick and easy, like my mom. But at the start of this this wasn’t really on my mind. We thought he might have to stay in rehab for a few weeks, then maybe come home with some assistance. That really was the picture and everyone felt that way. But as things dragged on and the pneumonia set in things got darker. Goals started changing, but we couldn’t fulfill his one overwhelming desire to go home. I wished we could have at least done that for a moment. We don’t have the resources for that. We couldn’t put him into a robot and bring him home to rest in his own house and look out over his own yard. Dammit man!

I think he had a good life, he was content with where he was. He grew up through the war and through the hardships of the postwar period. I’m finding out that he was a bit of a badass then, he got into a prestigious Osaka military academy high school, kinda like a West Point. Sister said Dad told her one of the things they did was take you 5K out in the ocean and dump you there. You make it back to shore or you don’t. Maybe that was an exaggeration, but were talking wartime here. Fortunately he was too young to be conscripted into service, and went on to university in Osaka. The family he boarded at he became a mentor to the sons (who would become my uncles) and met my mother. I know next to nothing about that part of his life and just now learning about it. He then had my sister. Next up, I give him credit for leaving Japan and coming to North America, first Canada and then the U.S. It was the mid sixties things were changing, but I’m sure there were racial tensions. It helps he was in the academic circles. It was in Rhode Island I was born, and from there they headed to Hawaii. Again, I don’t know much about that journey, I think I need to find photos and slides. I recall pics of a VW van. There was a Chevy Corvair somewhere in there, and I recall stories of some American sedan he drove into the ground with no oil, but this may have been in Canada. The environment in Hawaii was to his liking, yes it is paradise. Strong Japanese culture, but without the crowds, this is where he put down his roots. I think he came at a good time, if it were now, would he have been able to raise two kids and buy a home in Hawaii Kai on a University Professors’ salary?

He enjoyed simple pleasures, his walks outside, going to Kapiolani Park and playing his shakuhachi. One of my regrets was never recording him. The thought had been on my mind, but couldn’t figure out how to go about approaching him about that. Personally I think he was quite good, and all self-taught. Recently he hadn’t been playing much though, I think arthritis, and I wonder maybe lung capacity.

He’s not religious of any faith, so I don’t know how much I can say that he’s in a better place now, but he is now at peace. Dad, wherever you may be, say hi to mom, play that soulfull shakuhachi for all to feel, and go through those numbers and math problems beyond what I can comprehend that you were reciting to the very end. You are the man!

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