Fanny’s kitchen was always open
to grubby little me who, in want of a pepsi
always knew where to go.
too shy for social etiquette,
I’d sit on her porch
waiting to be seen.
soon her voice, “Oh, Hideko,
I neva see you. So hot today,
you want some pepsi?”
my nod would take me
into her kitchen where she poured
warm pepsi in an aluminum mug.
she could have used crystal,
it would have been safely held
between my hands, as I sipped and felt
warm pepsi flow down my parched throat.
there was no ice in our village, no electricity
or supermarkets, deprivation became bliss.
looking back, I hear the dialogue
between Fanny and her children:
“ma, what happened to the can of pepsi?”
“oh, that Kakugawa girl was here again
so I gave it to her.”
“oh man, she always here, drinking our pepsi.”
When I became a caregiver
for my mother with Alzheimer’s,
I sought Fanny’s kitchen once again.
she was gone then, and we were
all scattered, after Pele’s eruption
that wiped our Kapoho village away.
oh , how I needed a pepsi drink
living half in fear in the eerie world
using that Kapoho girl savvy
I found solace in Jane’s home.
a Fanny in every aspect.
her door unlocked for my visits,
I’d go straight into her kitchen.
“I need a mother,” I’d say,
and sit myself down at her kitchen table.
“I dropped my mother at adult care
and I’m tired and hungry.”
that brought Jane to her feet. brewed decaf coffee,
lunch or breakfast, pending time of my visit,
dessert and more decaf while I kept one eye on the clock.
there is something so motherly to hear,
“eat, eat. You look too thin.”
once again I hear the conversation at the end of Jane’s day,
her family gathered around the dinner table.
“Ma, what happened to last night’s left over dinner?”
“Oh, Fran was here today.”
it was a place where I sat to gather myself,
a self that was being gnawed away
by that Alzheimer’s thief. and Jane let me be.
Jane died last week and I grieve
for the kitchen she offered me, no matter what time of day,
and for being mother when I needed one most.
There’s a kitchen here in Sacramento
since my move eight years ago, a kitchen with another
name, but the same kitchen since my childhood and caregiving years.
Mary’s kitchen is where I now sit,
when my need for a mother, a clearer me, or a friend
creeps up on me and I shout, “I need a kitchen.”
I sit and wait for freshly brewed decaf coffee,
or hot green tea with healthy snacks,
mostly home – made by Mary’s hands.
I honor all three women this April day,
for a kitchen without lock and warm pepsi
to soothe a parched soul.
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