OCHAZUKE: Brothers Three


(First published in
The Rafu Shimpo on June 30, 2011.)


God has blessed me with three wonderful brothers. My older brother, Iwao, is four years older than I. He is like a mentor to me. Even as a child, he was always there for me, watched over me, advised me and cared for me. Since the time he was 23 years old, he has lived in three different Eastern states, but we have always kept in touch. He and my sister-in-law, Mary, never forget my birthday and send me a lovely birthday card and a generous monetary gift.

I will never forget when he was 13 years old, he had just returned from a Boy Scout Jubilee when he had an acute appendicitis attack. After he was carried on a stretcher to the ambulance and the ambulance took off with a screeching siren, I burst into tears. I felt I was going to lose my brother, which I almost did. Even to this day, every time I hear the screeching sound of an ambulance siren, I think of that day.

My brother has been married for 67 years to Mary, whom he met in Poston, Arizona, one of the ten camps during the mass evacuation. He has a wonderful family, which includes a great-granddaughter and a great-grandson.

In 1953 he obtained his Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from Harvard University when he was 32 years old. He taught anthropology at Ohio State University and Michigan State University. He also received an honorary Ph.D. in anthropology from Ryukyu University in Okinawa.

My younger brother, Henry, was a “pal” and/or best friend to me. He was two years younger than I. Regrettably, he passed away in 1978 at the age of 50 during surgery for a second by-pass operation.

When I went to see him in the hospital, lying helplessly on the bed, the tears streamed down my cheeks as the childhood memories flowed through my mind. We had such fun together and got in trouble at one time or another but managed to “keep cool.”

He would warn people, especially his co-workers, that they had better treat him nicely, because he had a mean, big sister, who protected him and worked on the 7th floor of the same building. I will never forget the day, his boss came up to the 7th floor to meet this mean, big sister. It was such a hilarious meeting.

Henry was a man of many talents. He was proficient as an accountant and photographer. He had many interests and hobbies and life was really a challenge to him.

When he retired from the County of San Diego, he willed his pension to me. Through his thoughtfulness and kindness, I was able to financially complete my college education, earning a BA in English and an Adult Education Teaching Credential in four designated subjects.

My youngest brother, Tom, who is 17 years younger than I, is like a “son.” He was born a month after Pearl Harbor. Shortly after we were “placed” in a concentration camp in Arizona, my mother was hospitalized and Tom became my responsibility. I am glad he was too young to know the stress of living in the desert of Arizona and so he spent more than three happy years in Arizona.

By the time he was 4 years old, we were living in Washington, D.C. and those, too, were good years for him. I will never forget the first time he saw snow. I was in the kitchen and he came running in and said, “Come outside quick! Something white is falling down and won’t stop.”

Tom was quite an athlete and played football in high school and really enjoyed sports. He, too, enjoys challenges and I think that is why he made such a good police officer. However, he had a very tragic incident happen to him that sadly ended his career as a police officer. After that terrible incident, Tom spent the rest of his working career as a security officer.

As an adult, he has had his share of tough breaks but because of his attitude, he has managed. He has been married for 41 years to Debbie and has two adult children.

Tom and Debbie also always remember my birthday by sending me a lovely card, along with a monetary gift or some special thoughtful gift.

I began this article stating that God has blessed me with three wonderful brothers and I am sure those who have read the article will agree with me. Although it has been over 30 years since the passing of Henry, I think of him constantly. I am truly grateful and thankful for my brothers Iwao and Tom and their timely presence.


Maggie Ishino is a Rafu typist. She can be reached via email. Ochazuke is a staff-written column. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.



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