CROSSROADS TO SOMEWHERE: Let’s Learn How to Dye Gracefully Together


(First published in
The Rafu Shimpo on August 17, 2011.)


“As a Nisei youngster of 79, I read your articles in the Rafu with great interest.  I look forward to seeing more of the same in the near future.”—G. N.

Exactamundo! Young George’s succinct words give me the perfect introduction to my message of the week: Reminding readers that Crossroads to Somewhere’s challenging mission in print is to ease the final journey; to give you a personal blueprint to extinction; an unusual (if not entertaining) guided end tour. If nothing else, a rather unique approach, no? Whether a disjointed Bucket List or semi-comatose romantic dream, a suggested road map to life’s cul-de-sac. Maybe a bit cheeky to think I can be of assistance, but se la vie. You don’t have to heed. Live today as if it might be your last. (But don’t be stupid!)

I was intrigued when Dr. Jack Kevorkian came along with his version of “assisted dying.” If we have retirement homes, assisted living quarters, nursing homes and hospitals, why not a painless, graceful exit? The state of Oregon has made the concept legal, if not limited. And an unqualified CR2S doesn’t plan to barge in on the debate at this point in time. But thanks to the timely G.N. email, I can reiterate my humble goal:  Hey, allow me to give you a few hints on how to face down obstacles along the yellow-hued road; a reminder that the Grim Reaper might loom ominously but needn’t be feared. Ah, shoot, fergedaboutit!  Getting old isn’t a complexity, it’s just a pain to parse.

Trumpet blare. Drum roll. Cymbals clang. Today marks the completion of a second week at Keiro Retirement Home. Congratulations are in order even though my car battery went dead. (Better it than moi.) Still cantankerous and refusing to wear a watch, I find KRH the opposite to Las Vegas. Every movement follows time and date. Here everything is scheduled. A synchronized existence. CR2S neither objects nor rebels. It’s a matter of getting used to, like a class schedule, an Army routine, a pair of new shoes.

It all makes sense. Just because I’m unaccustomed to greeting a new day at 6:30 a.m. and breakfast at 7 doesn’t mean 144 people should change their routine. Laundry day is now Friday instead of Saturday. Not worthy of a tantrum. The lack of crisp, salty, oily bacon is a concern but not worthy of rebellion. A conundrum: The two dining room clocks show different times.

As you can see I am slooowly becoming acclimated to communal living. I’m finding it’s not a chore to smile rather than frown; promptness has always been a WTH attribute so there is really no difficulty being on time; remembering names and faces has become a daunting challenge as is now the simple act of sleeping.

My wife was always a savior when it came to recalling names.  A well-timed under-the-table kick to the shin would also sometimes forestall a pending embarrassing comment. Sometimes. Heeding the admonition that if someone remembers your name, you should recall theirs doesn’t help a failing memory. It remains on the tip of your tongue.

As far as my current sleep apnea is concerned, I believe it has something to do with sleeping head south and feet north.  Remembering as far back as Riverside childhood, Poston Relocation Camp experience, Army overseas, college and various married locales, it has always been head north and feet south when in peaceful repose. (With an occasional east/west slumber.)  Never south/north until moving to here to KRH. (Think about it, Dude and Dudess, how about you?) Whatever the hang-up, I have found mine eyes automatically opening every two, two-and-a-half hours, like clockwork. Even Tylenol PM doesn’t break the pattern. Never have been Rip Van W or a hibernating Smokey the Bear so the interruptions aren’t catastrophic, but disconcerting, yes. To be continued.

The apex of my Would-You-Believe List is the fact that I haven’t seen a cell phone in the hands of a resident or heard one of those ubiquitous instruments ring in the dining room! I know it sounds impossible but it’s true. Nary a one. A Ripley’s Believe It or Not! I guess there is still hope for a sane and backward world, after all. Or have I simply found a bunch of like-minded Nisei who are content with an old-fashioned land line that rings instead of vibrate and, egads, is wireless and can be carried to the kitchen or bathroom? What’s next? Tsukemono in a bag?


W.T. Wimpy Hiroto can be reached by email. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.





Leave A Reply