On Thanksgiving Day, 2013 my mother-in-law passed away. Kikuye Sasaki was 93. When I think of words to describe her, things like "hard worker", "kind-hearted" and "generous" instantly come to my mind. She was married to Harold Sasaki and together raised four kids while in the early years working in the coffee fields and later at their own full-service gas station. Her husband passed away in 1995, a year and a half before I met their son. Kikuye retired from the gas station at age 88 to enjoy longer days in her garden, which brought her great joy. "K", as most locals knew her, loved growing vegetables, often calling it "fun"!
One time, in an effort to show my appreciation for a discount she gave me on some new auto parts, I went up to the gas station to work for the day. Just as you would sit down, another car would drive up. Ding Ding! And off "K" would go to start the gas pumping before checking the oil, and washing the windshields. Checking the tire pressure seemed so much easier for her since she was "low to the ground". To reach the taller trucks, this slight woman who maybe was 4'8" on her tippy toes, would stand on a plastic milk carton container to clean the windows! I was in awe that #1. anyone would allow this tiny elderly woman to do that and #2 that she was so willing instead of having her workers do it!
During the months preceding her passing, I was able to enjoy many good days with her and listened as she shared stories of her youth. She wasn't much of a talker, but when prompted she would share her memories. Her parents ran a piggery on Oahu when she was a small girl so each day Kikuye and her sisters had to go door to door with slop buckets asking for scraps to feed the pigs. She remembered what hard work that was.
Some of her favorite memories were of visiting Disneyland as an adult and of course going to Vegas! She loved Vegas! She also enjoyed crocheting afghans for family and friends when she wasn't out in the garden.
My mother-in-law was one of the biggest sports fans I have ever met! She always knew the names of every UH volleyball player. She often would call us to tell MM what time the UH volleyball games would be starting so he wouldn't miss it. She adored tennis and especially liked the "cute" players like Andre Agassi (with long hair), Roger Federer, and Rafael Nadal. It reminded me that age doesn't matter, even in her 90's, she was still "a girl".
"Mom's" favorite color was yellow, and one year for her birthday, one of her sons rented a yellow Mustang convertible for a week to drive her to work up at the gas station. How she loved that!
This is a sad time for our family, losing the Sasaki matriarch. But somehow, I believe that her passing on Thanksgiving Day was appropriate. I am grateful that I got to know her and have her in my life for these past 16 years.
Rest in Peace Kikuye.
A hui hou