CROSSROADS TO SOMEWHERE: No Matter the Number, Don’t Count No More

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WIMPY1By W.T. WIMPY HIROTO

Take my word for it. It’s no big deal getting old(er).

There is a difference, you know, between getting older and simply getting old. “Getting older” is like an ongoing journey, en route but not yet quite there. “Getting old” has a finality to it, like you’ve reached the end of the line, achieved a goal. I don’t know if it helps, but think in terms of getting mad and being mad. Or sad and being sadder. Whatever.

It’s all about attitude. People think differently. For example, CR2S had a birthday last month. First time in eons I allowed one to pass without making a big to-do about it. The opposite of a giver, I liked being a receiver. Not just for a birth date or Christmas, a gift was welcomed at any time for any occasion. I used to regret having a birthday so close to Christmas. You know, it had to impact forthcoming gifts. [I think there’s a word for it.]

This new attitude has made me a better person (I think). Since I’ve (partially) convinced myself that I’m not (too) old, still (in the process of) getting there, why bother counting (the years) and getting a reward? Who needs a tie, sweater or Rolex (none to be worn) to commemorate a number that simply accounts for how long you’ve been breathing? And is no guarantee of how much more time you have left.

My mother would always bake me a chocolate cake. I got to slather the icing, as well as lick the spatula. When my birthday fell on a Thanksgiving Day, she would bake an extra chicken because I don’t like turkey. [All of which is another inconsequential CR2S never-no-mind. Blame it on William James’ stream-of-consciousness influence – wandering hither and yon without purpose. No excuse – or apology. It must be part of the aging process — no control.]

Anyway, another milestone has been reached and passed. Being way over projected expiration date, I guess every day should be savored. There are two ways to look at the situation: One would be to give thanks; the other is to sneak a peek around the corner.

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I hesitate making comments about the deceased. Expressing personal feelings can be hazardous. And the chance an omission can be misconstrued as not caring. But there are a few who can be recognized without debate. Whether thought of as public figure, community leader or friend, Kiyoshi Maruyama embodies that trifecta. Deserved accolades and personal history will be forthcoming Friday at a Centenary Methodist Church service. For now, a couple of personal observations:

Kiyo Maruyama was one of the unfortunate Nisei forced to leave college after infamous 7th of December. Relocation center became a sorry substitute for Berkeley (where eventual brother-in-law Frank Hirashima was a fellow student). Army service with military intelligence gained him re-entry to college (USC) for a delayed business degree.

An accountant by profession (first office was above Toyo Miyatake Studio), he quietly became one of Li’l Tokio’s promising new businessmen. Unlike others, he shunned the limelight. While some vied for titles and recognition, Maruyama gained stature without need of title or public acclaim. As community organizations and activities formed and thrived, he was an automatic supporter and enlistee of most; ranging from charter membership in the first Japanese American club authorized to join Optimist International to Centenary Church Indian Guide leader.

[Kiyoshi Maruyama was one of the very few, rare JAs you never ever heard spoken ill of. He joins Howard S. Ogawa on this elite CR2S roster.]

He will be remembered for his commitment to the community. His most prominent role was in the founding and success of Keiro Nursing Homes. While George Aratani and Fred Wada are deservedly recognized for the role they played, Maruyama was one of the mainstays of the original *8-member team. Together with San Lorenzo Nursery mogul Joseph Shinoda, he played a major role influencing Edwin C. Hiroto to give up a promising insurance agency to take the helm of the fledgling venture. [*Attorney James Mitsumori, one of the originals, was laid to rest last month. Frank Omatsu is the lone survivor.]

The first of the many major obstacles to overcome was reconstituting a defunct Japanese Hospital of Los Angeles, which suffered Pearl Harboritis. It eventually resurfaced as City View Hospital, a way station to the creation of Keiro Nursing Home in Lincoln Park. A separate column (or two) could be devoted describing the numerous speed bumps encountered. Overcoming community apathy and doubt was a huge challenge. There were many who scoffed at the concept. [It is ironic Maruyama is being laid to rest in the midst of Keiro’s current diaspora. His council and involvement has been sorely missed.]

Despite this reverent homage, journalistic integrity calls on CR2S transparency: Do not accept a ride in anything he may now be driving.

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

 

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