Joseph (Joe) Enomoto and Florence (Flo) Ishino, my sister, were introduced in April 1962 by the Rev. Howard Toriumi, former minister of the Los Angeles Union Church. Six months later, they were married.
Had they been with us today, they would have celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in October of 2012. I am, however, grateful that their three children, Jeff, Jon and Kimmie, gave them such a wonderful surprise 40th wedding anniversary at Sambi restaurant in Downey.
When Flo become engaged, Papa went from San Diego to Los Angeles on a Greyhound bus to meet his future son-in-law. Upon his return to San Diego, I knew he highly approved of Joe. I asked Papa if Joe spoke Japanese. Papa said, “Un, omae yori jozu da.” (He speaks better than you). I said to Papa, “Wow, he must be good!”
I was told that if a man loves his mother and has a binding relations with her, he will make a good husband. This was certainly the case with Joe because he had that kind of relationship with his mother and proved to be a wonderful husband to Flo. He was a loving father to his three children and a disciplinarian while raising them. He cared for his siblings, George, Mary and John. He was a doting grandfather to his four grandchildren.
Joe had a sense of humor and loved to tease and joke, but when he was serious, he was serious. He was always helping those who needed help. He served God at the Union Church as an elder in many capacities and chaired the Sunday morning worship routinely.
Since Joe was a year and a day older than I and we were born in the merry month of May, we celebrated our birthdays together. For many years, family and friends made our birthdays such a happy occasion by giving us special birthday parties and gifts.
Joe was a kind and thoughtful brother-in-law. He knew I was a cat lover. If he saw something pertaining to cats in a catalogue or in a department store he thought I might enjoy, he would not hesitate to order or buy it for me. I have cherished each gift pertaining to cats he has given me, such as books on cats, pictures of cats, a crystal cat, wooden cats, furry cats in all shapes and forms, cups with cats on them. They are all displayed in my living room. I will always be grateful for his generosity.
When I transferred from San Francisco to Los Angeles because of a job, Joe and Flo and their children were kind enough to share their home with me. Since I was working, it took me two months before I was able to find an apartment, which incidentally was advertised in The Rafu Shimpo.
Joe offered to assist me with moving into the apartment. I told him it was not necessary to get another person because I had only the bare necessities of furniture. I also told Joe that I had more strength than brains.
It was an upstairs apartment and it was necessary to climb 10 concrete steps before reaching the front door of my apartment. We made three trips from Joe’s van to my upstairs apartment.
After we got the furniture and three boxes of kitchenware into the apartment, Joe put his hand on my shoulder and said, “Maggie, you’re right, you’ve got more strength than brains.” We both laughed.
Those who knew Joe will deeply miss him, but we know now that he is at peace and no longer suffering. He will be united with Flo, his beloved wife, as well as his parents and brother. It’s not “Sayonara, Joe,” but “until then.”
On Feb. 29, 2012, I lost my older brother and on Dec. 22, 2012, I lost my brother-in-law. The year began and ended with the passing of two beloved family members. I am, however, grateful to God for giving me such a wonderful brother and a wonderful brother-in-law.
Maggie Ishino is a Rafu typist. She can be reached at email@example.com Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.