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By Deems Tsutakawa For The North American Post

My late great mother-in-law Masako Wakabayashi Yamamoto lived with my wife and me for a few years until she moved in with her sister Lily Ogishima. At the time, my wife Jean still worked full-time and being that most of my work is at night, it was my duty to take Masako to her various doctor, dental, & podiatrist appointments which I rather enjoyed, at least most of the time. Masako was always quite pleasant and appreciative of life in general and also loved to eat out. She was always happy to have lunch or dinner anywhere and she would consume just about anything with mucho gusto extraordinaire. When having a bowl of Vietnamese Pho’ noodles, mom always ordered the large and ate it all. Masako made it look easy too.

There was this one day when her appointment was at Swedish Hospital on what we call ‘Pill Hill’ near Madison and Boren Avenues. As we drove into the basement car garage, Masako says to me, “I don’t like these underground parking garages, you can get lost down here”. I replied “there is nothing to worry about, you’re with me”. We get to the elevator, go in, and hit the button for the lobby and nothing happened. The elevator did not move. After a few moments, we got out and tried it again and again-no movement. The third time and fourth time, the same thing transpired. About the 5th or 6th time, I decided to take the stairs so I hopped out thinking that mom was right behind me. This time the elevator door quickly closed with Masako inside, I was left in the car garage, and away it went.

I spent the next full hour scouring the building looking for my lost mother-in-law asking at every station and reception desk. Eventually, I went to doctor’s office to tell them that she would be late for her appointment and there she was. Although she said she didn’t know where the doctor’s office was located, she not only found the correct location and had finished her exam. In the end, I should have known that she was much smarter than everyone gave her credit for. Moms are like that.

Deems Tsutakawa is a local Sansei musician. He can be reached at deemst@deemsmusic.com.