A New Life: Great Expectations! 2023 – 34

Hostages released

When I heard on the news just now about the first fifteen hostages that were released by Hamas, one of them a six year old girl, I could not help thinking about 1944, when I was six years old. Diphtheria, a contagious disease, was going around the camp. I was tested to be a a germ-carrier and had to go outside the camp in quarantine until I was negative again. I would be picked up by an ambulance and Mamma could not come with me. Thinking about the current situation in Gaza, and imagining the anxiety of the family members of the hostages, I found some excerpts from my mother’s journal in my book Rising from the Shadow of the Sun.

Nobody was allowed outside the camp: “ “She is going alone.”
“ The doors of the big ambulance opened and my little girl got inside as bravely as if she were going to a party, all alone. One of the men jumped in with her, and the others hung onto the side or sat in the front.
“Look, Ron, there is the window, can you look out?”
If she stood on the seat she could barely reach it. “I’ll come visit you soon,” I said (a lie).
“Yes, Mam, please come soon. ‘Bye, Paula”.
Paula waved, and so did I. Then she was gone. Oh, it is so hard. This is the third time she is going to the hospital. This time we are prisoners and aren’t even allowed to go along. We will hear nothing until she comes home. These are days I will never forget. She is not ill, but a germ-carrier, so she has to be isolated until she is not contagious any more.
“February 18, 1944
Ronny’s Homecoming
While Ron was in the hospital, a lot of things happened. First we had an anxious day because of a house search by armed Japanese soldiers. Then there was a transport of women and children from a large section of the camp to an unknown destination. First they evacuated all the outer sections of the camp. Our district is in the middle. We expected to follow soon, so we sewed until late in the night to get at least the machine sewing done of any strong material we had. We could finish it all by hand later. We expected to be put in a large hangar, so decent nightwear was a first requirement. For that reason we cut up sheets.
From one of my large unused sheets, I made pajamas for the girls and myself. Trimmed with colored ribbons, they looked quite nice.
You can imagine my anxiety after the first group left, and the second one three days later. I anticipated we would be sent in a few days, but Ronny wasn’t home yet. The fear of leaving without her was unbearable, and I had some terrible days. “
“My thoughts are with Ronny constantly, especially during nights while I lie awake. It was like when Fokko left. At night, when everything is quiet and you can do nothing else, it hits you. I broke out in a cold sweat when I thought of what could happen if we got a bombardment.  What if she got some kind of disease, or what if she did not get enough to eat?”

“ Some people depressed me even more by saying that germ-carriers usually need six to seven weeks to get rid of germs. That was all I needed to hear. The next morning I went to several strangers, who also had children “outside,” to ask them how long they had stayed away. Some came home after fifteen days, so I felt a little more hopeful.

It was Ronny’s sixteenth day away, close to noon, when a girl from down the street came running in.
“Ronny is coming home!”
I ran outside: “Where is she?”
“In a dogcar.”
The dogcar appeared with two children, one of them Ronny. I ran toward them, and lifted her out of the dogcar, “Hello, Ron! Oh, Ron!” She said, “Hello, Mam,” put her arms around my neck as if she were never going to let go again, pushed her head against my shoulder and cried softly. After her many experiences, to be back in mother’s arms was too much for her, and for me. She looked pale and thin, her hair loose and straight, as she squeezed her two red ribbons and a bunch of flowers in her hand. “These flowers I picked for you, Mam.” She had picked them in the garden of the hospital just before she left, then the nurse put both children in the dogcar and sent them back to camp.
I said, “Oh, Ron! I’m so happy; I’m going to squeeze some oranges for you!”
She didn’t say much, but asked me if I would please cut the nails of her fingers and toes. A lot of neighbors gathered around, but this time I didn’t care. I was just happy, so happy. I made her bed and tucked her in. She still wasn’t her old self yet, and she talked strangely. That straight, set face without any expression in her eyes wasn’t our Ron yet. But I was so grateful that before we had to leave camp, I still had some time to feed her well. Paula kept saying, “Ronne, Ronne, Ronne, this is Ronne.” At dinner Ron was very hungry, and during the following days she seemed famished. She said she had been given only two meals a day, rice with vegetables and ground beef for lunch, and rice with a piece of egg at night. I took her to the doctor for a checkup. She gave Ron a bottle of cod-liver oil, free of charge. Isn’t that nice?”
Our 2023 reality 
You know, when you hear things on the news about wars, but they are happening so far away, you can’t really experience the reality of heartaches, pain, and anxieties of people in the middle of that war.
I thank God that MY war, World War Two in the Pacific, happened so long ago that my memories are few, and that I had my Mamma to protect me with her love and courage. I also thank God that Mamma had the strength to survive everything and lived to be 101 with joy.
My Thanksgiving is forever!
Stay safe until next time,

A New Life: Great Expectations! 2023 – 33

Hawai’i Tropical Bioreserve and Garden

When we lived on the Big Island, the Garden was still called Hawai’i Tropical Botanical Garden, owners Dan and Pauline Lutkenhouse. We lived within walking distance, became lifetime members and visited often. In 1991, when my parents came to visit, we wanted to honor Mamma for her suffering, her love, her courage and perseverance during our years in Japanese concentration camps on Java. She loved trees and she loved the ocean, so the Lutkenhouses invited her to plant a tree in the Garden. They selected a Sea Putat, an ocean loving tree with fragrant pink flowers from Madagascar. We had a tree planting ceremony: it was a 4 feet high “keiki”, with fresh green leaves, and Mamma loved it. They put a plaque at the bottom with her name and date, and the name and origin of the tree.

About fifteen years later, when we went back for a vacation, we saw the tree leaning to one side and supported by a steel cable. Now, thirty two years later, I kept wondering if it made it, if it had not slid into the ocean; so I wrote to the Garden. They are under new management (hence the new name) and responded the same day with two pictures:

Your mother’s tree is healthy and strong by the ocean.


It had bloomed a few months ago: I noticed a pink flower on the ground in one picture, a brown wilted one in the other.

Mamma’s Legacy in Hawai’i!



And that’s a wrap for today!

Be well and celebrate life!


A New Life: Great Expectations! 2023 – 32

All’s well that ends well

At the urgent request of our daughter to please get our Covid shots, I went online, found a Walgreens, and made reservations for the following morning, Sunday, 11:45 and 12:00, thinking there would not be much traffic on Sundays. I drove the car out of the garage, got Mike with his walker out of the house, locked up, put the walker in the trunk of the car, locked the front door, and got inside myself. Walgreens… let’s see how long it would take us. To my shock I discovered that the Walgreens I had made appointments with was not in Apex at all, but in Raleigh, more than twelve miles away. Well, we could still make it, and I started the car. Except it did not start. Nothing worked. It did not detect a Ford key, while I had it in my hand. I thought it was the oil change that was due on Thursday morning.

We were lucky our doors opened and we could get out. Except I could not get Mike’s walker out of the back – the hatch did not open. I went inside and got my little walker, which I had bought in June for my torn meniscus. With that, Mike could get inside and I called AAA. An hour later a AAA technician told me the battery was dead. He started it up again and I let the engine run for half an hour in the driveway. What a disaster! No Covid shots yet. However, the best part was that we did not have to drive for half an hour to Walgreens in Raleigh.

Monday morning I had an appointment with the knee surgeon. He sent me to yet another surgeon a week later, who would do an ultrasound to determine the location of the baker’s cyst (yes, it is still there!) and then would drain some fluids from the back of the knee as well as the front. So I am not done yet. The good thing is that most days I can walk 5000 steps again with no pain in my knee. My goal is still for the knee to be as good as new by Christmas!

When I sat at the AAA office this morning for the oil change and battery check, which lasted more than an hour, I had time to read a book, currently The Boys in the Boat. The movie is coming out on December 25, and I hope to go see it with any of the family members that want to take me there!

Time out!

On Wednesday morning, Lani went to day care, where she met another little dog to play with; that was new to her, and it’s good for her to socialize. Because my manicurist opened the salon half an hour early just for me, I could have a manicure and a pedicure while the caregiver was still at home for Mike. My two friends at Waltonwood invited me for lunch next Tuesday, so I have plenty of good times to be thankful for.

And that’s a wrap!

Until next time,


A New Life: Great Expectations! 2023 – 31


They say that a person’s face changes every five years. I thought about that when I looked in the mirror the other day and saw: wrinkles! The new make up I am using is lovely in several aspects, but it does not erase age-related wrinkles. Hm. Well, everybody goes through the same changes, I thought, so those wrinkles are not disastrous. I felt even better about it after I saw recent pictures of movie stars, like Sarah Bullock, Meryl Streep, and Dame Judy Dench. People who do not resort to facials are all aging in a similar fashion. So I decided to take a headshot when I’m 85 (almost!) and when I’m 90. I will line up other headshots of 80, 75 and 70 and see how much my face has changed every five years. Kind of fun, if there is nothing you can do about it anyway. That’s how it is!


We have had a Black and Decker coffee maker forever. Of course not the same one, but I replaced them after they broke down with the same model. Every night, I put in water and coffee and the next morning all I need to do is push the button and it’s on. I never programmed it because we got up at different times. Last week, when I pushed the button, nothing happened. There was coffee in the carafe, but it was cold: brewed perhaps last night? Did I accidentally switch it on when I went to bed? Getting forgetful? Oh dear. But when the same thing happened two days later, I thought I’m not that stupid! It turned itself on in the night. And since its clock had not run well either, I decided it was time for a new one. I went online to Amazon, ordered the same Black and Decker, which arrived  the same day, so I could get it ready  for coffee in the morning.

We also have a Keurig coffee maker, and on the same day I decided it probably needed descaling. So I went to work, following the instructions in the manual, vinegar and water, water, water, and then I put in a new filter as well. Ready for my first cup in the morning! Except when I took that first cup, the creamer was curdled. I  got up to check its expiration date. And getting up I spilled half my coffee! Paper towels etc. to clean up, and then I smelled vinegar! There was still a trace of vinegar in the water. And so it took a while before I finally got my coffee. But now we are all set with two clean coffee makers. If anyone can tell me their favorite brand for the Keurig machine, please let me know.

Doggie Day Care

I found a wonderful day care home for Lani, four minutes from here. Today is her second day there. She does not like to be in the large yard by herself, because, believe it or not, she is scared to death by any flying insect. She loved to be inside, the lady is wonderful and her two kids get back from school at four o’clock, so Lani had time to play with them last week. The day care day is for when the gardeners come with their loud machines and Lani can’t stop barking. Last week, here was only one, and now, close to noon, I have not heard any! However, it is a wonderful opportunity for the future. If I ever have to leave for a longer period of time, even overnight, Lani is welcome at her day care home. That is a wonderful feeling, to be covered on all bases.

Getting to know my town

After a year, it is about time, but then I didn’t get out very often. Many businesses are very close, within five miles. I found safe ways (right turns only if possible :-)) to go to the pharmacy, the podiatrist, the gas station, the AAA, the dog groomer, the UPS store, Target for ice cream, the post office, the Hallmark Store, Walmart, the hair dresser, the nail salon, and that’s about it. There is a lot of traffic on the main street, but avoidable when you know where you are going.

And that’s a wrap!

Until next time,