Miss him a lot!
It was Sunday, September 3rd, 1971. Sam’s main Goto Dental Lab client–his former boss, Dr. Sproule had scheduled a 3 week trip to Australia in October. Sam’s sister Kiyo and husband Herb were visiting and Herb said, “You know, Irene works for Pan Am and we can get discount tickets because we are family?”
Sam and I decided it was our 10th anniversary and maybe we could take a trip to Japan? We only had a month to plan and needed our birth certificates in a hurry. I had mine but the next day, we went to the King County Vital Statistics Office on the 9th floor of the King County building to get Sam’s.
To our surprise: Sam was born at 3am on January 13, 1933 on a Friday the 13th, at 1303 Washington Street. He was the 3rd child, Mom was 23 and his Dad was 33. Their address was Route 3, Renton, WA. We left for our trip on 10/3.
On Sunday, New Year’s Eve 2017, all the family was gathered on Mercer Island, WA, as Sam had passed on that morning here at home. Irene, the youngest of Sam's five siblings, said, “Do you realize that today is December 31st? 31 is 13 backwards.”
We’ve chosen 3/10 @ 3:30, at the Mercer Island Community Center, to celebrate Sam’s life. It will also coincide with the printing of a special edition of the North American Post–scheduled from last summer to be released in March, with 16 pages of just Sam’s comic strips. He had drawn a weekly comic strip for the paper the last 5 years. The last one drawn was for 2018, the year of the dog.
Yellow was Sam's favorite color.
The 2018 Olympic games in PyeongChang and going for the “Gold” awaken an emotion in each of us around the world. We are interested in the stories of dedication for bringing out and achieving the best.
A plaque hangs on our kitchen wall: “Dee’s mission: To bring out the best in myself, my partner and others.”
I remember the first evening after Sam and I came back from our three-week honeymoon in January 1962. Sam had secured our one-bedroom apartment in Seattle before he left for our wedding in Eastern Oregon. Our apartment was – 411 Federal Avenue E – a couple blocks from Marketime on Broadway and Seattle’s Capitol Hill district.
“I’ll make dinner.” I said as we carried in the groceries from Safeway and put them away..
“Okay,” as Sam headed for the coat closet to take out the vacuum. He never said much, but was always busy fixing, organizing and doing. I thought vacuuming was the woman’s job so I was grateful that he was trying to help with the housework.
As I sat on the stool watching our stir-fry dinner cook, I could hear Sam banging all the walls and furniture as he was vacuuming. I was so tempted to call out something like, “You need to be more careful!”
I continued to sit on the stool and thought, “If I say something, he’ll probably never help with housework again?”
It had already become clear how sensitive Sam was that I had just completed a Public Health degree in Nursing and he just had two years at the College of Idaho. Part of the reason was that Sam had been drafted into the army expecting to finish later with the GI Bill and it was suspended in 1956 for a time.
I remember one time when I was invited to a party with my professional medical associates, Sam refused to go. I worked to cajole him into going, but decided to stay home with him. I knew he was feeling uncomfortable.
About seven years later, in 1969, Sam opened his own Dental Lab on the fourth floor of the Medical Dental Building, taking charge of his life and feeling confident. I silently gave myself credit for helping build his confidence and was proud of not being critical.
Years, later Sam and I had an open discussion about his positive self-assurance with our marriage and surprised me with: “I did my homework too!”
Sam is gone and I miss him a lot. We were a good team.
Somehow this symbol resonates well as an "X" for ending and an "O" for new opportunities with the warmth of what Sam and I had.
I'm sitting here reading grief counseling suggestions about positive ways of moving on with one’s life. It occurs to me that I want to have some new beginnings, but I also want to keep most of the projects going that Sam and I started together.
I see a quote pinned onto Sam’s work area bulletin board downstairs: “Strive for excellence, not perfection”. There is another quote taped to one of the cupboards in our kitchen: "Art is the illusion of spontaneity".
For me, to move forward with our writing projects, what I’ll miss the most are Sam's critiques I used to get before we published. I used to do the same for him. Nothing was more satisfying than to get totally absorbed for a couple days into publishing our HEAL THY SELF newsletters.
Most of the time Sam set a theme with a drawing. Next, I scanned it and typed the explanation. The hardest part was to decipher his handwriting. Next I wrote up more articles he had scribbled or from other newsletters with testimonials. Sam read what I wrote, made comments and added a complementary drawing.
Then, we couldn't get over how many times we had to reread and still make corrections for several days. I can still see Sam taking the pages upstairs for bedtime reading. In the morning, I read all the scribbles done in pencil and made the corrections on the computer. It was a lot of fun
It’s not going to be easy to find another writing partner, but that’s where I might find some new beginnings. Everything doesn’t have to be the same.
According to the Chinese Horoscope, 2018 is the year of the earth dog. Can we use the qualities of the dog to enhance our physical and mental health?
Dogs deserve their title of 'man's best friend'. They're loyal, intelligent, devoted and affectionate and don't talk back. Through almost all of are married life we had dogs. Sam also used to say, "They teach us about death - because they have relatively short lives. Specially, growing up on the farm, the animals taught us about dying."
For sure, these good qualities in my relatives and friends have sustained me this past month as I have faced my new life alone after Sam passed on New Years Eve.
One of the most helpful books was given to me by cousin Sharon: HEALING GRIEF, FINDING PEACE, by Louis E LaGrande. I like the first quote in chapter one by Helen Keller, "When we do the best that we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in our life or the life of another."
Drawn by Kirin to remember Grandpa today on his birthday. There are also 13 layers of the cake and yellow was Sam's favorite color.
Today is January 13th, Sam’s birthday. Tomorrow is January 14th, my birthday. Shortly after we started seeing each other every day in 1960, I was studying for my Public Health degree at the U of W school of Nursing and Sam was working late in his dental lab in the Medical Dental Building. He said something about being born on Friday the 13th. The Seattle phone book had a listing of calendars that year and I was able to find that January 13 was a Friday the 13th in 1933. That further solidified that maybe we were meant to be together.
In 1971 we decided to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary with a trip to Japan. We needed a copy of Sam’s birth certificate for the visa. We went to the King County Vital Statistics office on 4th Avenue and were amazed to find all the 1s & 3s: born on 1/13/33, Friday the 13th, at 3am, at 1303 Washington Street, Mother 23, Father 33.
Sam said, “I only had one party when I was 13 years old.” In 1964 I planned a surprise party when he turned 31. Those are the only two birthday parties he participated in as far as I know. I brought sushi to Dr. Branch's office in the Medical Dental building, one year as a surprise. We could not get Sam to come up to the eighth floor to participate. When David Branch went down to get him, Sam locked his lab door on the fourth floor and through the door said, “I said I didn’t want a party so leave me alone.”
I’m further in the mood to play a Johnny Horton CD with songs like NORTH TO ALASKA & BATTLE OF NEW ORLEANS that was a Sam favorite.
ALL FOR THE LOVE OF… “Life was so sweet dear… you’ve gone and left me. All for the love of …”
Horton died at age 35, but left a legacy of his love for freedom, bravery, heroics in the building of our country. One of Sam’s last comments when asked, “What are you most grateful for today?”
His answer, “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Today, Sam’s brother and sister are coming over. Lynette is here. We can do what we want with his memory. He would have been 85 years old. Eight and Five add up to thirteen?????
Drawn by our 10-yr-old granddaughter, Kirin. I verbally asked her to help me by drawing three c's for a blog post and she came up with this in just a few minutes.
"Any fool can criticize, complain and condemn; most fools do." -B Franklin Too may of us spend our time foolishly it's true.
I've lost a partner and what I am valuing the most are the thoughts and messages I am receiving. I trust that I'm coping by going over the memories of the great 56+years we had together. I am valuing the connections. I intend to keep using my connections to help me alter the plans Sam and I had for these next few years and continue to contribute without his drawings.
Sam liked the feeling that he was ahead with his comics so the North American Post will have his comics for a few more issues. I can still continue our writing projects, but will miss his input.
I realize we have the next generation coming along. Kirin says, "I'm not ready yet," but I got her to do this as she was packing to go back home last week.
This may help me revive and continue my enthusiasm for continuing the legacy that Sam helped with - the links in history and now will continue.
In the 1980s I organized an English pronunciation class for five or six Japanese wives at the Shorewood apartments on Mercer Island. The class was with the wives of a group of young doctors who had come from Japan to work at Dr. Hakomori’s Cancer Research Lab with Fred Hutchinson Institute.
During one of the classes, Tamami complained about in-laws coming for a visit and everyone commiserated. Her father-in-law was a physician and owned a medical clinic. She was dreading the need to play the role of a proper Japanese daughter-in-law. She was in the United States where those of us with Japanese heritage had shed many of the more cumbersome family obligations and rituals. Changes were also occurring with many of the more modern wives in Japan so Tamami seemed to be looking for an excuse to be more American.
As the teacher, as a wife with grown children and with an interest in psychology, I developed my own “game”. My Masters in Psychosocial Nursing was THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MEN AND WOMEN AND HOW THEY USE SOCIAL SUPPORT. Customs and rituals evolve for coping, creating connections and contributing; which are my 3 C’s of a healthy way to live life. According to historian, Richard White, in his book FOR WHICH IT STANDS, three of life’s bench marks is “making a home, launching our children and preparing for our old age”.
I suggested Tamami consider the in-law visit a short term “game”. With this new perspective, she reported to me, “It was a tremendous success.” Years later, when I made a trip to Japan, Tamami treated me to lunch at the top of one of the famous hotels in Tokyo’s Shinjiku district and we again talked about the game.
Life is a “game” and particularly in the game of marriage there is a physical difference between men and women. Successful relationships require healthy choices and gamesmanship. Our Goto-Health team is inspired to explore and pursue possible game plans as we look to a new year of possibilities.
Kirin went to Children’s Orthopedic Clinic today for a sprained wrist and was treated by “Dr. Job” as referred to by the staff because of his extraordinary empathetic bedside manner. That is because he treats the whole of the person involved in a treatment.
Kirin left the appointment saying, “I think I should break my other wrist so I can see him again.”
A few days before Thanksgiving 2017, Sam was given a suggestion that Chiropractic adjustment can be effective for the uncomfortable feeling he had that might be a result of his esophagus was backing up with gas.
Sam made an appointment with a local Chiropractor, but when he got to his appointment the practitioner took x-rays and wanted to address Sam’s whole spine. He wouldn’t listen to Sam’s immediate issues. They argued and Sam came home exclaiming, “He’s just a technician, not a real professional!!”
Three days later, Sam went to Overtake emergency with shortness of breath and Congestive Heart failure. There was a quart of fluid under his right lung that was aspirated. He was twelve days in the hospital where a bunch of “professionals” did their technical stuff like angiograms, CT scans, blood work, IVs.
There was one particular nurse, Baron, who was a professional like Dr. Job and took the time to figure out what the patient wanted and needed.
Kirin and I had a discussion about what it meant to be a professional. We decided a professional is someone who learns a set of skills, but goes on to learn some more about how to understand the customer/patient and listen to what is needed. A good professional isn’t there just to make money or dispense their skills/goods.
Here are 5 suggestions:
Put customer’s satisfaction first - connect
Share your knowledge; keep learning
Praise your team not yourself
Do more than expected - contribute
Say Thank you
Sam has spent his whole life putting himself in "pain", meeting deadlines making teeth, exploring Tikal, building and fixing our house, working on his antique cars and drawing comic strips.
Yesterday, when the Hospice Care nurse was here, she observed Sam having his episode of shortness of breath. She immediately asked me to go get the Morphine in the Hospice medical kit and gave Sam 5mg of Morphine.
It made Sam sleepy and he took a long nap, but he didn't like not being able to wake up. So, today, we are trying to not use Morphine and just going through the episodes of shortness-of-breath and being uncomfortable.
My office is all in boxes and has been converted to a Hospice sleeping room. The Christmas stationary can't be easily found so I will send our greetings in these ways.
Thanks for all the prayers and thoughts from family and friends as we work to overcome this crisis in whatever way.
Sam has earned a lot of back rubs, foot rubs and back scratches which he is enjoying.
Looking forward to 2018, the year of the Dog. He just completed his Comic Strip for the New Year Edition of the North American Post.
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