more Italian than Italians

middle-age American living in New Jersey near the Lincoln Tunnel <<< Dear Drew:  Thank you for accepting my friend request.  The death of my father-in-law, Haruki Miyajima came at the beginning of this holiday season, which sent me searching for you on facebook, and a few clicks and you’re here – va bene.  I have yet to get an obituary for my father-in-law, so in this compressed time between waking Hana to a New Jersey bus, and my bus later, I’ll write a modified obituary.  This is from recall, so it will be short on fact and long in sentiment, and I will be sure to get you the obituary published in a Milan paper when I get it.  Haruki was born in the Summer of 1927 in Japan, and he was the first born of a lot of kids.  I forget how many, but what is common in our childhood including what a large Cleveland family of Irish decent is will get you close to the right number.  His father died young, so he adopted part of the family-father role successfully, and when the youngest was an adult, and he finished at Tokyo University, he and his bride, Kazuko, my mother-in-law, immigrated to Italy.  Their ~1960 ship would have taken them from the Western shore of the Honshu Island of Japan, through the Pacific Ocean, Arabian Sea, Red Sea, Suez Canal, and finally the Mediterranean to an Italian port.  They traveled on one-way tickets, which capture what the trip meant to Haruki as a married man, father, and Italian architect – he wasn’t looking back.  Although he remained loyal and proud of Japan, and he returned on the occasion of his mother’s death, he was now Italian.  As you know Drew, sometimes converts are more of what they convert to than those whose conversion was not needed.  This was true for Haruki – he was more Italian than Italians.  At the risk of reinforcing stereo types: Italian men value clothing designers, and American men don’t; Italian men shop for themselves and American men don’t.  Japanese men would be more like American men in this silly cliché, and Haruki was Italian in that he shopped for himself and valued art and design ie. I imagine he would have had only fond things to say about Giorgio Armani and the many other Italian creatives.  Upon my very first greeting with Haruki in the final month of the year I married his daughter, Hana, on a flash trip I made to Italy sans wife, Haruki raced to me at Malpensa Airport upon his wife’s prompting, pressed his hands on each of my cheeks and gave me the tradition doppio Italian kiss.  Other than his ultra-compact Toyota, which had recently replaced a European car, the pen in his collar was Swiss and he was always head to toe Italian in clothing that showed his artistic taste and attention to detail.  Tokyo University could be compared to Harvard, Princeton, Yale, and BGSU (just kidding).  I routinely told my Japanese pedicab passengers that my father-in-law was a graduate of Tokyo University, which always brought a wow response, and on one occasion from a young Japanese man, “He’s a genius!” came with spontaneity and emphasis that Japanese reserve for special occasions.  His surviving wife, Kazuko, cared for Italy in the way she cared for her husband – steady and true.  I heard her saying numbers to herself in the kitchen when she was weighing pasta, and I commented that I was surprised she did not use Japanese numbers, “not with pasta” she said.  At time of death, telling of any man comes with his relationships, so husband and father get headlines, and with Haruki his love for his adopted country share the headline.  He is survived by Kazuko, Hajime, Rosa (daughter-in-law), Hana and me.  He was a great man, and I feel fortunate to have known him.  I know Hana and I are much like Haruki and Kazuko in our daily lives, so his memory and legacy remains with us.  I miss him Drew, and I feel better knowing you know of my loss.  Your cousin, Tee. P.S. Hana and spent much of August 2010 at the Miyajima home, and selected photos are at the following link: >>> since public speaking, and posting internet comments are two things people fear, I created an email account for readers to use for anonymous comments: gmail, username: anonymous2tomdoody, password: anonymous123

About Tom Doody

middle-age American living in New Jersey near the Lincoln Tunnel
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