As most of you already know, my mom recently passed away peacefully on September 11, 2010.  What most of you might not know is what kind of person she was or what kind of life she led.

When my sister was speaking to the Buddhist priest to arrange a memorial for my mom, one of the questions that he had asked her is, if she could describe mom in one word, what would that word be.  All of us sisters agreed that the word that described mom the most was the word “courageous”.

You see, mom had lived a hard and arduous life.  As a little girl, her home town, Nagoya, Japan was bombed over 90% with incendiary bombs.  She lost her home and her family had to rebuild from scratch.  She learned how to fight/defend herself at the age of 9 or 10 with items such as sticks and poles.  And every time bombers came over, she had to go to the air raid shelters until the bombing was over.  I remember her telling me that when she looked up at the sky, the sky was blackened by the numerous amounts of B-52s flying in the air.  There were times when food became scarce and she had to resort to eating plants and sometimes beetles and grasshoppers.

As she grew up into a young adult, she was struck by a car which opened up her chest.  She survived the accident, but left a scar approximately 6-8″ long and about an 1 inch wide above her left breast.  It almost took her life.

She met my dad when the US Armed forces occupied Japan working as a manager at the Officer’s hotel laundering service.  They married and mom left her family in Japan to begin her new life in a new country.  Going from living in a large city to living in a small farming community, not knowing anyone and not speaking the language was a huge adjustment for her.  I remember her telling me how much she missed her family and some times longed to go back.  Since coming to the United States she only had the opportunity to see them once in her life time.  Yet, she never complained.  She learned how to read, write and speak English, get her US citizenship and raised 4 girls (she lost two infant boys).  She even got a job as a manager at a fast food restaurant!  She was adored by all!

Although her life was filled with hardship, she persevered and remained strong.  She taught us girls how to stay strong when times got tough, to love unconditionally, and most importantly to live our lives to the fullest and appreciate the things that life gives us.

Yes, “courageous” is the perfect word that fits her.  Courageous to the very end.

I’m going to miss my mom dearly, but she will continue to live within me and my memories.  Her spirit will continue to guide me and help me live my life knowing that I was blessed with knowing and loving such a wonderful person.

She may be gone from this physical world, but will always be with us in spirit…

Don’t think of her as gone away-
her journey’s just begun
Life holds many faucets-
this earth is only one
Think of her as resting-
from the sorrow and the tears
in a place of warmth and comfort-
where there are no days and years
Think how she must be wishing-
that we could know today
That nothing but our sadness-
can really pass away
Think of her as living-
in the hearts of those she touched
For nothing loved is ever lost-
and she was loved so much!