Counting My Blessings

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November, 2000

LOS ANGELES - I am grateful to the countless kind people who have written in response to October's "What's New" column about my mother's illness. Thank you so much -- that column generated the most feedback my website has ever received. My mother and I feel blessed to have your prayers and good wishes. We are deeply appreciative and value every one of them.

My 88-year-old mother is progressing well. I took her to the doctor for her scheduled examination two days ago, and he was greatly pleased with her good recovery from the operation. Her surgery cut has completely closed. She has a healthy appetite and is conscientiously exercising with her walker. The friends and relatives who visit with her cheer her. She enjoys her car rides through the city. Mama is made of sturdy stuff and she is determined to regain her health.

But the Alzheimer's is a relentless adversary and her moments of confusion seem more frequent; remembering appears to be getting more difficult. The recurrent frowns on her brow betray her terribly. I do my best not to notice and try to cheer her.

She is doubly blessed, though, by two women I've engaged for her care. During the day, she has a Japanese-speaking woman, Tomoko-san, the wife of a retired Buddhist minister. Because Mama has reverted almost wholly to the Japanese language of her childhood, Tomoko-san, with her light-hearted chattiness in Japanese, is wonderful in engaging her mind and uplifting her spirits. She is a traditional tea ceremony practitioner and a delightful maker of "origami," folded paper animals. And, to top it all off, she cooks delicious Japanese lunches for us. At night, Mama has a fun-loving, happy talking, Filipina nurse, Josie, with whom we have all fallen in love. Mama greets her every evening with her lips puckered and arms outspread for an exuberant Josie embrace. There is absolutely no frown on Mama's face when Josie arrives.

Thanks to the help of these wonderful ladies, I have been able to accept work engagements during this time of my mother's needs. I was able to do two television guest spots this month - one as the executive of a Japanese beer company on the hilarious new Darren Star comedy, "Grosse Pointe," and the other as the voice of an omnipotent and omniscient computer on "V.I.P.," starring Pamela Lee Anderson. Do keep your eyes and ears open for them. They should be airing in about a month or so.

And, also because of this great support system for Mama, I am able to fulfill my duties as the Chairman of the Japanese American National Museum as well. We open one of our international traveling exhibits on November 10 in Okinawa, Japan. So, I am now in the throes of packing for the long trek across the Pacific Ocean with some peace of mind knowing that my mother's care will be in the hands of two lovely and loving women. We count our blessings.

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