Sunday, July 10, 2005


Sunny Hi 115 Lo 88 for Baghdad, Iraq --- but it's a dry heat...
Sunny Hi 92 Lo 68 for NKY, USA

Song of the week: Let's Get It Started -- Black Eyed Peas
Turn it up!!! Wake up the house!!

Happy Sunday Everyone!

It is with renewed resolve, renewed determination that we should support our armed forces. My heart goes to the people of the United Kingdom. It is my hope that the men and women of the UK have a new found resolve, a new found determination to destroy terrorism. UK--Let's get it started again.... Don't let this be short lived...

My Mother and I have a strained relationship. I believe a great deal of the stress on our relationship is cultural. However, we can thankfully discuss gardening, politics (she is a serious conservative), my niece and nephews, and everything Okinawan. My brother and I have joked that when we are in her presence, we automatically feel like we are 10 years old. I don't know how she does it. Michael can probably tell you better than I what she does to me. I suppose it is the classic mother/daughter relationship. If you have ever read Amy Tan's novel, Joy Luck Club or seen the movie of the same title, that's us... There is not a woman on this planet that makes me crazier. There is not a woman on this planet that I hold in higher esteem. Of all the women in my life, she is the one that I wish I could make proud.

To give you the background on my Mom, from the limited information that I have, she was a little girl (maybe 4 years old) during WWII. Her father disappeared never to be seen again, and my mother, her brother and sisters witnessed her mother's death when she left the cave they were hiding in to search for food while war was waged on their very small island. (Food during wartime consisted of bugs, leaves, grass and what was left of the sugar cane fields-- as my Mother now laughs about.) When I was a kid, we went to Okinawa. While there we went to countless shrines. One that stands out in my mind, was a school. My mother very matter of factly told me that all her friends died there when it was bombed. One other vivid memory that she shared was after the battle for Okinawa, "American GI tried to get us to come out of cave. We afraid, because of what Japanese say about Americans. GI would hold up Hershey chocolate to get us out of caves. We afraid, but we like the chocolate, so we really not so scared." (My mom then giggles after this statement.) The Okinawans were peaceful farmers caught in the middle of one of the bloodiest battles. The Japanese treated Okinawans as subhumans, but pressured them into fighting against us. Over a quarter of Okinawans perished during WWII. I can not begin to comprehend the childhood she had.

She and my father met while he was stationed in Okinawa. She married him against the wishes of her family. My father brought her to the USA. She spoke minimal English, had no family here, she was very homesick. Later, I was born in Barstow, CA. She did become a citizen of the USA-- ask her anything about American history... I suppose things were ok for a little while. My father brought us to Cincinnati where my brother was born a few years later. I don't remember when things got bad, honestly as a small kid, I remember it was just bad. My father would leave for weeks at a time, leaving my mother without any money. Terry and I would never go hungry, but I know she went hungry to keep us fed. When my brother was just a little guy, my father walked out on us permanently- Mom, my brother, me. He left no information, no money, no forwarding address, nothing. He didn't tell a soul (that I know about). He should have stayed in the Marines. He didn't show up again until the day O.J. Simpson was found not guilty-- another story for another time.

So, my Mom was left to raise 2 kids alone in a country where she had difficulty communicating with others, a place where she was treated poorly because of the color of her skin-- The three of us all experienced prejudice alot of the time- even among some of our family members... if any of them read this, they know who they are. I suppose had she wanted to, she could have gone home to Okinawa, but she didn't. Staying in this country was a better option. My Mom worked her ass off. She worked as a seamstress making around $ 1/hr. As my brother and I grew up it was not uncommon for her to pull 18 - 20 hour work days. She was always working. It was at this age that it was embedded in Terry and I that work was essential. Depend on no one--Suck it up and quit whining. Terry and I were exceptionally good kids. I know that because we are told to this day by family that we were. I guess on some subconscious level we knew how intrinsically tough my Mom's struggle was, so we were quiet, did what we were told, we even played quietly. My mom saved every penny and somehow made it work. She was too proud to ask for help. Although we were close to my father's side of the family, it wasn't until Terry and I were adults did they realize how bad it was for us. Mom likes to tell a story about the time we were living in Norwood and she went to apply for food stamps. She was told that she worked too many hours and made too much money (we were poor!!!!). As she recollects the story now, the social worker told her that she needed to cut back her hours and then she wouldn't make so much money and then she would be qualified for food stamps. Mom replied to the social worker, "FOHGETIT!!!". How completely assinine is our system? A woman who is working hard, needs just a little boost, is told no--. Instead she is told to cut back--too much overtime-- let the government take care of you... that is NOT the what this country is supposed to be about!!! She didn't cut back her hours... she increased them... no handouts were ever taken. Mom learned so many lessons like that and so did we. She didn't get any help, and she expected the same from her kids--Do it yourself, "don't be baby." My dad left when I was 5 or 6, but by the time I was 10, Mom bought us a house--- a home--- a great place to grow up---Anderson Township... She did this in less than 5 years!!!! She started her own business and became very successful. She still works--- "keeps her young and her mind alert". She has every right to be proud. She has had a tragic life and yet she was able to overcome all obstacles. She is proud to be an American. She knows that this is the land of opportunity. She is the American dream. So, when bleeding hearts come crying to my Mommy... they get little attention except they may hear these words..."Yu beeg baby!!"

So on June 25, Mom and I went on a garden tour in Anderson Township. We were blown away by the private gardens of these folks in Anderson. They have created private worlds, retreats from the reality of everyday life--Lush, thick, exotic, beautiful gardens. The bar has been set higher, but I know what my goal is for our yard.

The most important thing however, is I thank God that she and I can enjoy gardens together...

Other places to visit this week:

Pictures of Okinawa

Japan Window

Okinawa Times

Chick blog of the week- North American Patriot: I just found this blog and this gal is a great read. She goes against the grain --conservative atheist... hmmmm... There is also a link to a debate blog she has with a friend of hers that is a liberal atheist.

If you ever meet my Mother or anyone of Okinawan descent, please do not confuse Japan with Okinawa.

Have a great week!!!!

Mom, 1962 Posted by Picasa

Purple Iris Posted by Picasa

Private walkway Posted by Picasa

Everyone needs a mantle in their garden Posted by Picasa

Girls and koi Posted by Picasa

birdhouse Posted by Picasa

I love Japanese prints, especially those that have birds and cherry blossoms. This is by artist Koson Ohara, 1877-1945 Posted by Picasa

We thought this photograph had the same feel as the previous print. It is by famed Kentucky photographer, Bubba-san, 1965-. Posted by Picasa


Karmyn R said...

Read this from the Blogging Chicks Carnival....

It is obvious that you are proud of your mom. I hope she read this blog!! She is an amazing woman - she is what makes America great!

Cathy said...

Thanks Karmyn. She is pretty amazing.

Malissa said...

your mom sounds wonderful!

I find the don't confuse Okinawan with Japan interesting? I don't know what you mean but I'd be interested to learn.

The photo of your Mom is so pretty--she is beautiful.

Ok, and I LOVE the mantel in the garden! I'm making a little spot by our garage and was thinking "What do I need?" aha;) That's what I need!

I'm reading through the blogging chicks carnival