Circle of Life

WalkerA few days ago, my sister asked me what I thought about sending my mother’s walker to a woman named “Itty,” who we met while visiting our Uncle Fizzer in Cleveland. (Our mother passed away in February.)

I thought it was a wonderful idea. Itty’s walker is very old, and she struggles with a variety of problems associated with it.

The next thing I thought about was the circle of life. Here’s why:

My uncle introduced me to Itty in September 2013, after I flew to Cleveland to speak about The Red Kimono to a group of his Japanese friends, many of whom were former internees.


Jan and Itty

At that time, Itty told me she’d known my mother when she used to sing at nightclubs in Cleveland. Itty was my mother’s seamstress. I was amazed to meet someone who had known my mom so long ago, and loved hearing stories from her past.

Uncle Fizzer is on the left. My mother is in the white dress in the center. Next is my Auntie Sue and Uncle Randy--another of my mother's six brothers.

Uncle Fizzer is on the left. My mother is in the white dress in the center. Next is my Auntie Sue and her husband, Uncle Randy–another of my mother’s six brothers.

This would have been approximately 1955. My mom would have been twenty-years old–three years before I was born. Here’s a photograph, taken around that time period.

In March, when my uncle became ill, my sister returned to Cleveland to be with him until he passed away. While she was there, she asked Itty to tell the story again, and this time, she recorded it.


In the video, Itty briefly mentions The Alpine Village Nightclub. I googled it, and found a few photos. It’s fun to imagine my mother singing there. What I wouldn’t give to have a recording of her beautiful voice.

So here’s the “circle” as I see it. Sixty years ago, Itty helped my mother by sewing beautiful evening gowns for her to wear in her performances. Today, my sister will send her my mother’s walker, which will help Itty.

Sixty years ago, my mom sang in a gown sewn by Itty, and Itty sat in the audience and listened. I’m sure neither could have imagined then that one day, my mother would give her walker to Itty.

I imagine my mom smiling at the thought.

This entry was posted in History, The Red Kimono and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Circle of Life

  1. truthsbyruth says:

    This is just super cool and very touching. You just never, ever know, do you Gypsy Jan?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Awesome story & awesome idea for you guys to send the walker!

  3. Mustang.Koji says:

    What a most endearing story, Jan… Lovely example of the circle of life indeed. The video of Itty is a treasure. I hope it is well backed up. I loved your going back to see the nightclub where your mom sang so soon after war’s end and before you were a twinkle in her eye…

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