Visiting parents, spring 2015

Last updated April 11, 2015



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Day One | Day Two | Day Three | Day Four | Day Five

This visit was unlike any other. I traveled alone to visit my parents. I did not plan any outdoor adventures. My goal was to spend time with them and learn as much about them as possible, especially Dad.

Day One, Saturday, March 28, 2015
Flights were not cheap at this time of year, probably because young people were getting away for Spring Break. I just wanted to see my folks before kayak season and also to be able to split my time between March and April so I wouldn't have to use as much vacation time.

I arrived at Baltimore Washington International (BWI) airport early...far too early. I gave myself too much time to drive there, find parking in long term parking, take a shuttle to the terminal, etc. I only had my carry-on bag and like the last time I parked in long term parking, things were extremely efficient.

I boarded the plane and looked out the window. It was snowing moderately hard. Two days prior, it was 72 degrees. That night, it was supposed to be 22.

It was a long flight to Phoenix where I had to change planes. I should have stayed up late the night before but I got a good night sleep and was wide awake for most of the flight. I would have preferred to sleep.

My parents picked me up at the Sacramento International Airport and we went to their home. We stayed up fairly late getting caught up on things.

Day Two, Sunday, March 29, 2015
It was sunny and warm. It wasn't hot or cold...just right. I forget how perfect the weather can be in Sacramento. I can sleep with the window open at night and leave it open during the day. It is extremely sunny and my eyes are not used to this anymore. Sunglasses are a must.

But too much of a good thing is bad. The weather is nice and sunny too often and there isn't enough rain. This has always been a problem but after several years of drought, conditions have gotten extreme.

I walked with Mom to Raley's, the local grocery store. We were going to buy a few things until we found out that neither of us brought any money. We walked back a different route. I think we did about 2.5-3 miles.

I stopped to see Robert I. who lives two houses from my folks. I went to church and college with him. He now has a lovely wife and an infant, Eric.

Later that day, I walked with Dad for about 1-1.5 miles.

I adjusted the motion sensor light above the garage.

I made sure my parents' computer had all the latest updates.

I spent a long time talking with Dad about his younger years.

After dinner, I drove us to the Harris Center in Folsom where we saw a show called "It's Magic." It was entertaining and good but not great. I was able to figure out how they did a few of the tricks but some really did seem like magic. The performers were excellent entertainers.

Day Three, Monday, March 30, 2015

I went with my folks to their gym, 24-hour Fitness. Mom did her Zumba class while Dad did strength training. I watched and worked out with him, offering several suggestions.
  • Warm up on the recumbent bicycle for 5 minutes before starting any strength training.
  • Work over a full range of motion.
  • Do pushups instead of bench press. Incline pushups (hands higher than feet) and flat pushups on knees are recommended.
  • Do seated rows with the pulley cable.
  • Do back hyperextensions on the Roman Chair or equivalent exercises on the machines.
  • Instead of doing abdominal exercises on a sit-up bench, use the abdominal machine over a fuller range of motion. The machine will help keep you from cheating.
  • Do leg lifts, raising your knees towards your chest.
  • Use the rope when doing standing cable tricep extensions. Pull all the way down with palms together and facing each other. Then, once you reach full extension, turn your wrists so they face the floor before returning to the starting position.
  • Work your legs on the leg press machine.
  • Use the leg curl machine to work your hamstrings.
  • Use the leg extension machine to work your quadriceps.
  • For all exercises, exhale when contracting your muscles. A slow, controlled pace is better than a fast one.

  • Dad had a lot of friends at the gym that he introduced me to. It is obvious that they respect both his and Mom's dedication to trying to stay fit.

    The three of us went out to lunch at Chinese buffet on Stockton Boulevard.

    We visited Sacramento Memorial Lawn to see where grantparents are buried/kept. This area is now known as Little Saigon.
  • First photo: Parents in front of the area where the cremated remains of many Buddhists are kept.
  • Second photo: Buddhist shrine. Facing this shrine, Dad's father's ashes are kept in a box on the left wall, about 6 feet high.
  • Third photo: Dad sitting in area near where Mom's family is buried.
  • Fourth photo: Same area, different view.

  • At home, I looked through and scanned in lots of photos, many of which I was seeing for the first time. Mom has numerous photos while Dad has only a few.

    That night we visited Mom's sister, Kay Y. Her husband Ed passed away the previous day. Her whole family was there and it was good to see them.
    Click thumbnails to enlarge.

    Day Four, Tuesday, March 31, 2015

    I saw a Google map car taking photos of my parents' neighborhood. The camera was mounted high above a car that had "Google Maps Street View" written on the side.

    Mom and I met Aunt Kiyo at a donut shop in morning.

    Mom, Dad, and I went to the California Museum in the State of California Secretary of State Archives building. We saw the Gambatte! Legacy of an Enduring Spirit exhibit which displayed the Japanese American relocation camp experience. See first photo.
    On February 19, 1942, with a frightened nation still reeling from Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor two months earlier, U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, which led to the imprisonment of almost 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II. Two-thirds were native-born U.S. citizens who were given but a few days to settle their financial affairs and report for relocation to desolate incarceration camps.
    Even though they had done nothing wrong, many of the Nisei (second-generation Japanese Americans) didn't talk about their experiences because of the shame and pain they felt. Not only did they want to put the past behind them, they also didn't want to burden their children with their personal loss.

    - from sign at Gambatte exhibit; written by Paul Kitagaki, Jr.

    Much of Gambatte was comprised of written interviews and photos of the people interned, both then and now. There were some interesting stories.
  • In July 1943, Tule Lake became a segregation center for the "disloyal," many of whom were identified through a questionnaire. The poorly worded questions caused confusion, and arguments arose among the internees over how to answer.
  • Mitsuo "Mits" Mori was only 7 when he was sent with his family to the Salinas Assembly Center, then on to Tule Lake. This is where Dad was sent.
    His father, who was born in the United States, was considered disloyal for answering no-no to questions 27 and 28 in what was known as the loyalty questionnaire.
    Question No. 27: "Are you willing to serve in the armed forces of the United States on combat duty wherever ordered?"
    Question No. 28: "Will you defend the United States from any or all attack by foreign or domestic forces, and forswear any form of allegiance or obedience to the Japanese emperor, or any other foreign government, power, or organization?"
  • Itaru Ina was put in the Tule Lake Segregation Center in Newell, California.
    Itaru was a member of the Hoshi Dan, a political pro-Japan organization focused on returning to Japan.
    Many (perhaps all) of the people sent to Tule Lake, were known for answering "No" to loyalty questions number 27 and 28, which many Japanese Americans considered tricks that could leave them stateless.
  • Some remarkable people were sent to camp. Harvey Akio Itano was a 1942 graduate of the University of California, Berkeley. He was
    a brilliant student chosen by the faculty as the University Medalist of 1942...[he] received a bachelor's degree in chemistry...
    Later, Dr. Harvey Akio Itano
    helped discover the genetic cause of sickle cell anemia while working with Dr. Linus Pauling at Cal Tech in 1949.
    Althrough Itano himself was held at Tule Lake War Relocation Center, he was the first student allowed to leave internment to continue his studies.In 1979, Itano was the first Japanese American elected to the National Academy of Sciences. After a career in the U.S. Public Health Service, where he was eventually medical director, he was recruited to the medical school faculty of U.C. San Diego, where he was a pathology professor.
  • Yoshi Shimada was also sent to Tule Lake where
    he was given a 4C enemy alien classification after he and his brother answered No and No to Questions No. 27 and 28 on the loyalty questionnaire.
    "I say that all the people who said no-no were actually not disloyal, but they classified us disloyal," he said. "They had reasons, because the parents - the Issei - wanted to go back to Japan. Sometimes families were younger and didn't want to be separated. There were different reasons why people put no-no."
  • The Japanese Americans were not allowed to bring their pets with them. The task of finding homes for thousands of cats and dogs, some of whom knew commands only in Japanese, overwhelmed the humane societies.
    See second photo.

  • Shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attack, some Americans started talking about rounding up and detaining people living in the United States because of their nationality or religion. Japanese-Americans were, for the most part, strongly against such actions, having remembered what they or their ancestors had experienced shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Japanese Americans were not the only victims of such actions.
    Santa Fe Detention Center, 1943: Immediately after Pearl Harbor, the FBI began arresting leaders of the Japanese, Italian, and German communities, for no reason other than their leadership status. Soon, over 4000 "enemy aliens" were in custody. They were interned apart from their famiies throughout the war.

    In the museum was a recreation of the primitive living conditions in the relocation camps. This was the work of Ted Kobata. On display was a newspaper article showing my Uncle Sus working on the project at another location several years ago.

    After leaving the museum, the three of us ate lunch at Sushi Cafe at 1221 Alhambra Boulevard.

    Back at home, we took a nap.

    I met an old teacher of mine, Dr. Dennis W. We ate dinner at the Hoppy Brewery Company at 6300 Folsom Boulevard. He is 74 years old and mentally as sharp as a tack.

    Around dusk, I went for walk with both my parents in the neighborhood. As nice as the weather is, I'm surprised there aren't more people out. I'm also surprised there aren't more solar panels.

    I looked through an old photo album with Mom. She has a lot of photos of herself, family, and friends, but Dad has very few. He looked very strong in his old pictures.
    Click thumbnails to enlarge.

    Day Five, Wednesday, April 1, 2015
    I backed up data on my parents' computer.

    We went back to the gym. Mom did Zumba again and I worked out with Dad, again showing him how he should be working out to increase his range of motion, develop stamina, leg strength, core strength, and better posture.

    I re-adjusted the motion sensor light above the garage.

    Mom and I went for a walk around the neighborhood, probably 2 miles. She taught me the word daikon-ashi which is translated as "radish legs."

    We ate dinner at home and then they drove me to the airport where we said our final farewells.

    I was definitely glad that I took the time to visit my folks. I learned a lot about them and their parents. We will see each other again soon.