Lillian Yoshiko Bonner
To my dear JACL family:
Thank you all for your cards, letters, words of comfort and thoughts of my mother. Mom passed away peacefully in her sleep June 19. She was 98 years young!
Mom adopted me when I was 3 years old at Manzanar Internment Camp in California's Inyo Valley ('42-45). Because she lived in Nevada, she and her husband were fortunately not interned.
Mom was a wonderful, wonderful adopted mother. There are only a handful left of the 2nd generation Nisei, born to Japanese farming immigrants. Mom's father was a fruit farmer in the Sacramento valley and his wife was a Japanese picture bride. The family had 7 children, all living on a farm in Vacaville, California.
You always knew when mom was present, as her smile lit up the room wherever she went! She kept the Asian tradition of wearing her smile whether happy or sad! But as a child growing up with her, I always knew what was on her mind, as I could unquestionably, read her face!
My father died very early in life, leaving my mother a young widow at 44. So, at the tender age of 11, I literally had to grow up overnight to take care of her. That was fine -- while other teenage friends worried about dates and new dresses, I took care of mom and never thought otherwise. I started taking piano lessons at 6 years of age and in my later teen years, I taught piano lessons on weekends. With my extra spending money, I would treat mom to a nice Saturday night dinner at Fishermans Wharf in San Francisco where I grew up! I also had enough funds to take her home in a taxi too and it was my pleasure to make her new dresses while she was working. I did all of this with great love and affection!
Mom was a lifelong volunteer. She helped with scouting, churches and schools. In the 50's, Grace Cathedral S.F. (the Anglican Church where I attended and was married) gave free sewing lessons to make altar cloths for the Episcopal church. Mom loved embroidery work, so signed up for classes and made absolutely breathtaking altar pieces with her skilled hands for our small Japanese church. Most pieces were sewn with gold and silver thread, very difficult material to work with. Mom eventually made about 5 sets for different seasons of the church. As a child, I remembered being very proud of her!!
Mom was also a lover of plants! On the weekends, I would regularly clean her S.F. home. She had a particular cactus plant on the shelf that would always scratch me when I came close to it. Sometimes my arms would bleed, so one day I asked mom if she could please throw it away! She said to me firmly -- "no"! Evidently, in the Spring, mom would wait for tiny red flowers to bloom! That was mom!
"Bachan" as my children would call her was a wonderful, wonderful grandmother! She treated my children like adults! Once I heard my 6 year old son use the word "hilarious" and yes, "Bachan" taught him that!
I am grateful that mom lived with us -- she gave us all a 3rd dimension to our lives and to this day, she has left us with so many, happy and joyous memories!
Thank you all for thinking about mom and me.....
Love, Lillian Yoshiko Bonner
July 8, 2009
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