[Before we explain the headline, a problem arises: Writing a column when feeling lousy. Under normal circumstances, one would seek the comfort of a warm bed and hibernate, allowing a sore throat and disturbing hack to find a cure. That’s not an option for a Rafu Shimpo columnist. So on goes a grotesque mask – a thoughtful and pure Japanese way to honor thy neighbor’s health and well-being – and to protect readers from an errant germ. Hold any urge to make a Nobel Prize nomination, today’s subject is not about peace or brotherhood.]

Tell it like it is!” was made famous by Howard Cosell. You don’t have to know who he was to embrace the maxim. Many things influence the search for an attention-grabbing column headline (I write my own). Since CR2S has so many Japanese-speaking followers, I’m becoming more aware of how difficult and near impossible it is to translate my style of Americanese into understandable nihongo; just as some readers complain about my use of seldom-used words.

Regardless of these shortcomings, let’s get right to the meat of the matter and focus on a subject few care to discuss.

No matter how you dilute genes and measure RNA, we are all Jappos! So there, I’ve said it. Whether you cringe at the terminology or not, that’s what we are. No matter if you dye your hair, bob your nose, unslant your eyes or change your name, there is no way to get around your heritage. We are not Asian American, okay, we’re Japanese Americans, pure and simple. [And after eight straight weeks of discussions about Keiro, you really didn’t think this week would be any different, did you?]

= * =

Everyone, and I mean everyone, has an opinion on the situation facing Keiro today. We fear our revered treasure is going to disappear before our very eyes. Pacifica Group and leasing affiliates Aspen and North Star will take over early next year, February at the latest if escrow proceeds without further interruption. Everyone — and I again do mean every one — is up in arms, fearing it’s the end of the world for Keiro, at least as we knew it once was.

Au contraire, lads and lassies, men and women, mina-san.

Take a solemn breath, and reconsider the facts of the matter:

A profit-minded entity is poised to take over our greatest collective achievement. Yes, it is time to commiserate and shed a tear, but not to raise arms in abject defeat. Don’t be tossing in the towel, even though we know there will be changes. It’s as sure and useless as saying for-profit sucks. But status will remain quo for five years. That’s more than an empty promise, so let’s put a hold on the funeral dirge.

Imagine this scenario: What if Lincoln Park and South Bay Keiro Nursing Homes hold to current patient count and maintain manageable Medicare/Medi-Cal percentages? What if Keiro Retirement Home should retain or improve its tenant level while maintaining its reputation as the preferred site for Japanese? All are achievable goals. Would North Star/Aspen change established policy, if all patients/boarders were (gasp) yellow, but its books black?

Okay, you’re welcome to stone me. Call me names, an embarrassing jingoist, a reverse rebel, prejudiced and biased. Whatever. I’m simply saying if everyone crying “wolf” replaced their emotion with warm body references, guess what happens? Forget all that rhetoric about “Why didn’t you consult with us?” and help by putting people in rather than out!

Think about it. If what remains of the Nisei populace, plus the aging Sansei generation and continuing influx of Shin-Nisei remain as involved as the public outcry seems to indicate, Lincoln Park and South Bay would remain mostly Japanese-occupied. As long as our doctors remain supportive and continue to refer their patients, bed count and staff would remain, OMG, mostly Jappo!

If hand-wringing anti-sale advocates chose Keiro Retirement Home for their family and friends, KRH would remain all JA with amenities you can’t find at more prestigious (and costly) establishments. As CR2S has consistently reminded readers, KRH is astonishingly about 75% Jappo-speaking! You want a well-appointed, more costly locale in Laguna or Torrance because its closer to family, go for it. I’ve always thought primary aim is for the comfort of the parent, not supportive family members. [But what do I know?]

So there you go. Or as you might say in Japanese, naru-hodo, mochi-ron, and all that Oriental jazz that sometimes doesn’t make sense. The four Keiro operations have a five-year guarantee. Not a bad deal, all things considered.

One day after five years does not mean the sky will fall and our elderly will be tossed out of bed or the Dodgers win the World Series. It simply means North Star and Aspen will check respective bottom lines to see if they made any money. Nothing earth-shattering or scary.

What those years represent depends on perspective. For the aged, it is an eternity. [All together now, in unison: Whom are we supposed to be concerned about?]

W.T. Wimpy Hiroto can be reached at williamhiroto@att.net Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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