[ Stories from Dr. Yukari ]
Guided by the hope of St. Nichiren, we continue to work towards a peaceful society. Honolulu Myohoji Mission collaborates with Psychologist Dr. Yukari Kunisue, a trained and experienced therapeutic life coach, to offer a safe online space: Stories from Dr. Yukari
During my time as a student at the University of Hawaii, I saw an ad posted on the bulletin board seeking Japanese-speaking students. I was often discouraged by my weak English-speaking abilities so I was delighted to see the Japanese language as a desired skill.
The ad was seeking help with an oral history project of an aging Japanese Issei and Nisei. I was instructed to carry an old-fashioned cassette tape recorder to visit senior members in the community. At first, being the poor student that I was, I was disappointed that it was only volunteer work with no monetary compensation. But soon I realized that the volunteer work was highly rewarding since it was a privilege to listen to many wonderful stories that came from the older Japanese speakers.
One man talked about how he looked up to the sky from his childhood home in Aiea when Zero fighter planes were directly attacking Pearl Harbor. Another woman spoke with a mix of Hiroshima dialect and English while she talked about her childhood at a sugarcane plantation on Kauai.
Through this volunteer work, I met Rutsu who one day requested to meet in front of a local post office. Rutsu was a so-called war bride who came from Japan. She was married to an American GI who was stationed in Yokosuka after WWII. During one of our conversations she told me in broken English,
“my name is Rutsu came from a Christian name Ruth. My mother was a devoted Catholic.”
Despite being in her mid-70’s, she had delicate features and was both attractive and good-looking.
Her Navy sailor husband went to Vietnam and never returned to her. They did not have any children and Rutsu became alone. She worked as a florist at a local flower shop for many years to support herself. While she wanted to go back to Japan, she waited just one more year in hopes of seeing her husband return. Shortly after, her parents passed away in Japan and she had no more relatives to return to.
“Why do you come to the post office every day?”
I asked her while we sat on the bench near the post office. She told me she spent hours in front of here almost every day.
(To Be Continued)