My Mom passed away peacefully on October 12, 2019. Mom was 89 years old. She passed away at a hospice following medical complications, in part due to her age. I spoke with her doctor about a week prior: I got it that it might be just Mom’s time. Time is always undefeated. Mom suffers no more; she now gets to rest in peace.
In hospice care, the patient’s life runs its natural course and ends. There’s no life support in terms of feeding or respiration. There’s intravenous medication for pain.
I told Mom’s doctor that I didn’t want her to suffer more than she has. Mom had suffered a lot in her life, even before this and her physical decline in the seniors’ home, she had suffered with my dad while raising Carol and me at home. I was intentionally vague in my narrative related. It was Mom’s time. She had done her best, enduring this mortal coil. It was her time to find peace, to rest in peace.
Over the years, Mom taught me that compassion and kindness truly define a Good Man. She always saw my greater-than version within me, the one I continually evolve. Mom got her job done: she raised me so that I won’t need her. I had to grind out as the greater man. That all being said, I shall miss her. Goodnight sweet Mom “and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”
I emailed my dear friend Tom that I hoped Mom would now get to have her original love story, the one she had forsaken as a young woman. Instead of expressing the touching idle narrative of the 89-year-old woman suffering dementia, that she had married a judge in her hometown, her first true love, that she now had what she wanted and deserved. That would be okay.
Mom and Sensei Dan were my greatest influencers. Now, they’re both gone. Fortunately, I’m part of their Art, part of what they created while they were here on Planet Earth. Mom and Sensei did not define their legacy, by definition. Those like me, who were part of their spheres of influence, shall define and perpetuate their profound legacies.
When Mom passed away, Lisa Blacker, my Editor for The Good Men Project wrote me a kind gracious note that she got to know my Mom and our meaningful relationship through my writing. I graciously thanked Lisa for posting my stories and thoughts. Now, at least part of the world got to know my Mom. Part of the world will remember my mom, as I shall. That’s the invaluable and unintended legacy of Mom. The world is a greater place for Mom having been here. This legacy seemed far removed and so very remote even a few years ago.
Surprisingly, writing my second, upcoming book, Your Life: Your Work of Art was never foreseen, either. Way back when, being a writer was not in my realm of what I believed to be a possibility. Just saying.
In 10th grade, I took a Shakespeare class with Mr. Proctor as my English elective. I thought, “What was I thinking?” Iambic pentameter could be my absolute demise. We started reading “Romeo and Juliet”, which was okay. Next up: “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. Better. Then we read “The Merchant of Venice”. That was my literary reckoning.
Although Shakespeare intended “The Merchant of Venice” as comedy, it explored and examined the themes of racism, prejudice, forgiveness, and mercy. Shakespeare wrote:
The quality of mercy is not strained.
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
Shakespeare’s words spoke to my very soul. I wanted to be a writer. Yet, I got that I probably wasn’t going to make money as a writer. Aside from English Literature, I loved Math and Science, at which I was considerably better.
Consequently, I studied Electrical Engineering in my undergraduate studies and for my Master’s degrees. I got a job in the Satellite Systems Engineering industry. So far I’ve enjoyed a 30-year career working on challenging Programs, working with some amazingly talented people. A number of those folk have become lifelong friends. I’m grateful.
After I began working with my therapist Lance, looking at my unresolved childhood fears of my dad, Lance asked me to write a list of what qualities I wanted in a woman in a possible romantic relationship. That being said, and with all due respect to Lance, there was no way in hell I was going write that list. I had no fucking interest in coming up with that list. In full disclosure, I’ve since related this story to Lance, for the most part. Composing a list was not at all compelling nor interesting, so I looked around for some sort of counter-proposal.
I loved movies. I’d written about 400 movie reviews on IMDB.com at the time, many of which are now republished here on The Good Men Project. I wrote about what I took away from or the messages that I had gotten from watching movies I loved.
So I decided to write about what I wanted in a romantic relationship by looking at movies, by looking at my life as a whole. I started with my Movie GOAT (Greatest of All-Time), “Meet Joe Black” starring Anthony Hopkins and Brad Pitt.
I started from there and expanded looking at other topics besides “Living with Love”. I wrote about “The Sensei” as the acknowledgment for my Aikido Sensei Dan Muzukami, who became a Father to me. I wrote about what interested me, what was important to me: “The Hero”, “The Dreamer”, and “Laughing Out Loud”. I wrote about what I wanted to write about, be it falling in love, martial arts, poetry, and, of course, Shakespeare.
I collaborated with my best friend John, who actually gave me the title: “Living With Love: The Way of the Warrior”. That was also an homage to Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba – O-Sensei.
I had endured the darker times of my life and gotten to a greater space. My writing evolved as something purposeful. For those who may have suffered as I have, I wanted to let them know that in even our darkest nights, the sun shall rise in the morning for the new day. That it’s worth grinding it out and believing in yourself.
I worked with my dear friend Ken, who’s a bestselling author. Ken thought that what I had to say was valuable and had an audience. He recommended that I self-publish. Because Ken would know, I followed his instruction and self-published on Amazon.
No, my book is no bestseller. It probably never will be. Yet, it represents me daring to put my voice out there in the world. Since then, I’ve spoken with or read reviews from people who read my book. They got something out of what they read. Perhaps, my book made them look at their own lives. That’s all that I hoped for. I hope that what I wrote might have made a difference small or profound for other people.
Eventually, Ken connected me with my Editor Lisa Blacker from The Good Men Project. Working with Lisa has made me the greater writer. I still have a ways to go to be good. I’m so proud of the work we’ve accomplished together.
Through Lisa’s and my posts, at least part of the World got to know my Mom, too. Now, part of the world shall also remember my Mom. That’s more than I could have ever imagined as that 15 year-old reading Shakespeare in class back in the day.
Mom and Sensei’s Future Legacy
Mom got that my childhood was particularly tough for me. When I was fearful inside, she’d tell me, “Slow down, Jonny.” Really, when I was 12 years old, I’d get angry when she said that. Yet, as I grew older, I got that she was really telling me: Take a breath. Things will work out. Mom had a way of calming my soul. Amen.
When I was 12 years old, Mom made me take Aikido after we had returned home to Hawaii from the family vacation on the mainland. She didn’t want me taking a martial art like karate, where it was about punching and kicking. Wisely she chose Aikido. She drove me to Aikido class three times a week.
Being the short, fat nerdy kid, something about Aikido clicked for me. I was good at it. I loved it. Unfortunately, I would forsake my dreams of becoming a Black Belt when I started 9th grade at Iolani School. Mom and Dad paid a lot of money at the time for me to do so.
When I moved to Los Angeles for work after grad school, I rediscovered Aikido. I met Dan Mizukami Sensei. Sensei became like a Father to me. We’d share the 25-year journey together. I’m Yondan, 4th-degree black belt. I continue to train, and pass on what Sensei taught me about Aikido and being a Good Man.
About 20 years ago, Mom came to visit me in Torrance, CA. We had dinner with Dan and his wife Alyce, who was like my Mom in LA. What a great time. When Mom and I were leaving, Mom grabbed Sensei’s arm and said, “Thank you for taking care of Jon.” Sensei smiled, “He takes care of me…” I held back tears walking with Mom back to my car. Mom was among the most gracious on Planet Earth.
When I feel that fear in my chest, I hear her voice, “Slow down, Jonny.” When that voice in my head says, “Jon, you can’t!” I listen to Mom, “I’m proud of you.” Perhaps, the world might not remember Mom. Yet, I will.
When I get overwhelmed, I hear Sensei, “Make it work.” “Just train.” “You’re a better teacher than me.” I shall always remember Sensei, my love for him, what he meant to me.
The world was greater for Mom and Sensei being here on Planet Earth. I’m part of their spheres of influence, part of their legacies, as I define my life, create my Work of Art. I’m forever grateful for them. I honor them both by gifting forward what they have bestowed upon me. Amen. Amen.
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