One can be beautiful.
from White Ginger Blossom by Frances Kakugawa
One can be beautiful.
from White Ginger Blossom by Frances Kakugawa
We Are Fall
The poets, in droves
lick their pens, salivating
over metaphors, turning
Death into Life. It must be
I, too, am Autumn.
Where are the poets?
To Death shrouded in Gold.
I should have worn a red
© Frances Kakugawa
2013 Training Conference by Brookdale National Group Respite Program
I was honored to give the keynote address and two workshops at the 2013 Brookdale National Group Training Conference in Denver, CO.
Keynote address: I Am Somebody: Dignity in Caregiving
Workshop 1: Poetry Writing
Workshop 2: Children and Family Members with Alzheimer’s Disease
What a pleasure to be in the company of devoted health professionals from about 30 different states. My gratitude to Carmen Mendieta and Mary Asenjo and their staff for this inspiring and informational conference and for inviting me, for the second time, to speak at their conference.
Reading Wordsworth Dances the Waltz
photos by Victor Biggs
Posted in Alzheimer's Disease, Elder Care, Events, poetry and caregiving | Tagged Alzheimer's Association, Brookdale National Group Respite Conference, I Am Somebody, Mosaic Moon: Caregiving Through Poetry, Wordsworth Dances the Waltz | 2 Comments »
To caregivers who are using their pens to preserve the humanities of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or other dementia-related illness, this is for you.
On this Isle of Caregivers
A bottle, sealed with wax
Washes up to shore. Inside,
A pen and sheets of blank paper.
Posted in Alzheimer's Disease, Caregiving, poetry and caregiving | Tagged Alzheimer's Association, Alzheimer's Awareness Month, Breaking the Silence:A Caregiver's Voice, Caregivers, Mosaic Moon: Caregiving Through Poetry, Poet/caregivers, Wordsworth Dances the Waltz | 2 Comments »
There are a few openings for two of the support groups that I facilitate in Sacramento.
Please call the site where these sessions are held. We’re a friendly, non-threatening group of caregivers and memoir writers. See below:
Frances’ Monthly Sessions for Caregivers and Memoir Writers
Poetry ( and journals) Writing Support Group for people caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease or other Dementia-related illnesses:
The 2nd Tuesday of each month:
Time: noon – 2 p.m.
Site: Alzheimer’s Office, conference room
1455 Response St
Memoir Miners session
Second Thursday of each month:
Time: 10 – noon
Site: Asian Community Center
7375 Park City Dr
I stood speechless when I stood in front of the Mona Lisa and Michelangelo’s David, Once in a great while, a book will fall into that same Masterpiece category and will have the same effect on me. This masterpiece of a novel is Haruki Murakami’s most current book: IQ84.
The only way to discuss this book is with another reader who finished this over- a- thousand -page novel.And our conversation will merely be: Did you read this book? What a book, huh? And we will nod at each other.
I was first introduced to Murakami’s work with his The Wind Up Bird Chronicle and got hooked. It may be a good idea to be introduced to his former works before reading IQ84 to be prepared for his style of writing where sometimes, a cat will speak to you and it seems the most natural thing in the world. Unless you are familiar with his work.
An excerpt from IQ84 appeared in The New Yorker not too long ago.
Murakami was a strong contender for this year’s Nobel Prize. Often I wish to be in the company of authors whose books leave me in awe…I think I will be tongue-tied if ever I’m in the same room with Haruki Murakami.
Patrick was a veteran of WWII, a Japanese-American soldier fighting for his country. He never spoke of the war, of his experiences in Europe, except to live a life of peace and kindness. When he died of Alzheimer’s disease, all his untold stories were buried with him at the Punchbowl Veterans Cemetery on Oahu. I stood there thinking, “Patrick, your country has not forgotten.”
A Salute to Patrick at Punchbowl Cemetery
The soldiers stood cemented to the grassy ground
Like statues, while Buddhist sutras filled the air.
Movement would dishonor the man who once stood
In his uniform, like his comrades today.
The three-gun salute, the wailing taps,
The precision of the folding of the flag,
A salute purified by white gloves
For the presentation of the symbolic flag.
Each step of ultimate precision, a tribute to dignity,
Honor and respect for the fallen soldier,
From the country whom he had served
With love, dignity and honor.
Whatever Alzheimer’s had stolen from him,
All was returned to him today.
Whatever memories, forgotten,
The country that he loved, remembered.
A final rest in peace.
(from Mosaic Moon by Frances Kakugawa
Poems about Patrick, written by his wife Setsuko Yoshida, are also included in Mosaic Moon.)
The repairman C arrived after 5. He immediately said , after feeling the ice in the bins, the cause of the ice was clogged tubes in the back of the refrigerator. Clogged with lint. He unscrewed the back panel and I washed three plastic tubes. The current, it seems, was unable to flow through the clogged tubes and so it condensed into ice. I’m no repairman. This sounded better than moisture from uncovered fruits.
We took everything out of the refrigerator. He used a strong hair dryer and hot water to melt the ice formed in the refrigerator units. All of this required screwdrivers
His advice. I need to clean the back of the tubes once a year, twice if I had pets in the house.
I was charged $42.50 for the cleaning. The warranty, he explained, covers only replacement parts, not cleaning. “But, but,” I said, “if the cause is clogged tubes, isn’t this part of what warranty covers? A refrigerator that needs repairs?” Nope. I should have signed up for the Master Protection Warranty at a higher price, he said. . No way will I be able to move the refrigerator out so I’m stuck to having Sears come to clean the machine.
So I wrote him a check for $42.50. His labor, covered by Warranty was $226.00. So that previous repairman who said my unwrapped fruits were the cause of the ice, was paid $226, as was the first
repairman who came twice. I should have had Sears pay ME for the embarrassment of finding real black grime under the refrigerator. No Good Housekeeping lives here.
Received a call from Sears Executive Office today. They will reimburse the $42.50 and will add the Master Warranty to my current plan for six months. (All three repairmen are from the same firm.)
The Master Warranty Maintenance Plan will replace your refrigerator after 4 functional failures or 3 in 90 days.
But, but, I say. Do we have to become the squeaky hinge to receive the oil can? Shouldn’t Sears take care of their customers without having them go on FB and Blogs and making phone calls to district robotic managers who fill out forms? Has businesses turn into corporations that have no humane attributes? Once a person says, “That’s company rules,” I know there’s no human at the top, beginning with the person who uses company rules as an out.
For now, I appreciate the call from the Executive Office and repairman C. I asked that the Executive Office personnel put in a good word for C. Hope I don’t need to retract this someday.
Pahoa Cash & Carry
After 75 years, this local grocery store in Pahoa, Hawaii that sold everything from food, clothing to needles and threads, is closing its doors for good.
This is the kind of change that ought not to happen. It is with sadness and gratitude that I add my stories about Mr. Hara, the original owner.
We would not have survived in Kapoho without him; he allowed my mother to charge all our groceries and waited until we harvested our cane crop every few years to pay our debts. I see him sprawled through our doorway, taking notes of our grocery list: 100 # of rice, spam and Vienna sausage and Japanese saké among other staples. We had no vehicle so Mr. Hara personally delivered all our purchases.
After our village Kapoho was destroyed by Kilauea Volcano, state land in Pahoa, a village seven miles away, was offered at a public auction for victims who had lost their property. Mr. Hara stayed next to my mother and encouraged her to purchase our new property, coaxing her to bid above the going price, “I will lend you the money without interest.” And he did. My father’s last bachelor spree was with Mr . Hara when they both went to Japan before my father got “arranged” married. A black and white photo preserves these two young men in their suits, on their way to their last bachelor fling.
I hope the humanity of his legacy will be carried on by his customers. It will be long remembered and lived here.
A small tribute is given him in my book, Kapoho, Memoir of a Modern Pompeii.
Sears did NOT make my day. If only five years olds ran Sears.
lst repair call from me: There’s solid ice in the vegetable and fruit bins and things are getting frozen on the top shelf.
Repairman came: I had to empty out the refrig. It needed a new part. He doesn’t
carry parts in his truck. So I waited another weeks for another appointment. You know, waiting around, hoping for a call between 1 – 5.
Repairman replaced the part and left.
Two weeks later, there’s solid ice in all the familiar places.
I called repairs. “Do I need to empty the refrig?” I asked.
“ No”, woman said. “There’s no need for that.”
“Can he bring the parts needed to fix this problem?”
“They do not carry parts on their lst call,” she explained.
“This is a second call,” got me the same response.
Repairman came to the door. “Oh, “ he said, “I need to go home to get my tools.” What????
He returned in an hour. He asked me to empty the shelves. His diagnosis: The ice is caused by the uncovered food. He saw a bowl of my last crop of cherry tomatoes left uncovered in the refrig. He saw two oranges in the fruit bin, unwrapped.
“But, but,” I said, “This has been happening even with all my food unexposed.”
“It’s the model of this refrigerator,” he said, and left. He reminded me of doctors who use age as diagnosis when they have no knowledge or time or interest in treating the elderly.
I called Sears today. They will send the third repairmen on Thursday.
“Do not send that recent repairman,” I said. “And may I speak to your manager?”
The manager read the script in front of her, with no inflection or signs of interest. “I will file a report,” she said.
I was part of a discussion on sexuality and aging on the following radio show. We advocate that one does not need
Cialis and Viagra for an intimate sexual life and hope to change the advertising world!!!
Conversation at Trader Joe’s, Sacramento
Woman at check out: Are you Chinese? Malaysian?
Woman put her two hands together, bowed and said, “Ah, Arigato!
Are you from Japan?”
Me: No, born and raised in Hawaii.
Woman: Your English is very good.
Me: Thank you.
A few days later:
A large box postmarked Montana, arrived. Inside, three very large sunflowers, all seeded, ready for
planting. This complete stranger had read of my blog story of my sunflowers being stolen this past summer. She
told the story to her 5 year old grandson who responded with shock that someone would steal sunflowers. He is
known as the sunflower farmer and delivers his seeded sunflowers in his wagon to neighbors, to be shared with
birds. He told his grandmother, “Will you send sunflowers to that lady in California?” He reminded her throughout
summer, “Did you send the sunflowers to that lady in California?” She finally did.
“My decision to become a teacher was based on the only other alternative I thought was available at the time – becoming a prostitute. Perhaps I’d better explain.”
With these words, in the first chapter titled “Red Nail Polish,” I was drawn into the life and words of elementary school teacher and poet Frances H. Kakugawa. They told me so much about her: that she has a sense of humor, a touch of rebellion, a desire for glamour, and a determination to make choices in her life.