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Koji's Column

My Mother, My Anchor

My father died in my early twenties. His death devastated me in ways that I am still dealing with today—more than 13 years later. At his funeral, I read his eulogy and told him how much I loved/admired him but the hardest part of it all was that he would never get to hear my letter. I don’t want to make that same mistake with my mother, so this is my attempt to write her eulogy while she can still appreciate it.

My mother is my hero. I never accepted the whole passive Asian woman stereotype because my mother is the complete opposite. She is by far the strongest person in my family and not afraid of anything. This is exemplified by the fact that she moved half way across the world (by herself) to a country where she didn’t know anyone and couldn’t speak a single word.

My mother is my rock. Despite her husband (my father) being sick and disabled and having two young sons, she never complained. She worked full time, took care of all of us, cooked all our meals, and still had time to “force” me to do my Kumon homework and practice piano.

My mother is my biggest fan. She has always supported my career choice. Her mantra was that I should do what makes me happy and she’ll be happy for me. When I won my first writing award, she took my trophy to work to brag about me. More recently, she bought 50 DVDs of my latest film and sold it to all her friends and coworkers.

That’s all I have. But not because there isn’t more. I have thousands of stories I could share that would show how much I love, respect, and appreciate my mother. And yet, none of them stand out like they do for my father.

I should probably explain. When I was a kid, I was constantly scared that my father was going to die. According to the doctors, he was always going to die sooner than later, so everything I did with my father and every interaction with him was important and I knew at a very early age could be the last. But during that time, the one constant in my life was my mother. She was the one person I could count on. And unlike my father, I always assumed she would live forever.

I know that’s silly but it’s exactly what I needed at the time. I knew that if push came to shove, she would be around to protect and love me (even if my dad weren’t around anymore). I don’t think I appreciated that fact as much as I should have. Actually, I’m pretty sure took I it for granted. It’s only now that as I write this did I even come to realize this.

So I want to thank my mother for being my constant. For giving me an anchor when I felt adrift. For being the kind of mother any kid would want. I hope she knows how much I love her and appreciate her. And I hope she can forgive me for being a spoiled, bratty, self-centered kid. But I hope she takes some solace in the fact that I grew up to be a man that sees how amazing she is.

* This article was originally published on on May 4, 2011.

© 2011 Koji Steven Sakai

8Asians family mother mother's day

About this series

“Koji’s Column” is a column series contributed by Japanese American National Museum staff member, Koji Steven Sakai. His column explores Nikkei identity and culture from the standpoint of a second- and fourth-generation Japanese Americana American male from Southern California.