Tsutomu “Tom” Yoshida
Monday was the first anniversary of my grandfather’s death, and I would like to share a few memories of him.
Tom and Suki Yoshida are my grandparents on my mother’s side. They lived in the same city as us (Regina) until they retired, so I saw a lot of them growing up; much more than my father’s parents, who we only saw once or twice a year because they lived in Edmonton. And even after my grandparents moved out to Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island in 1989, we still would see them fairly often – we would spend long vacations there in the summers, they would occasionally visit Regina, and when I was old enough to have my drivers license, I would occasionally go out to BC with my sisters or with friends.
When we were little, my sisters and I would sometimes spend the weekends at my grandparents. They lived on Broadway Avenue East, and their house was like our second home. We loved sleeping over because we were allowed to watch cartoons in the mornings, and we weren’t allowed at home. Sometimes we would be so excited we would wake up before the cartoons began, and there would only be test signals, but we would sit and wait anyways.
My grandparents always had an amazing garden – while I’m not much into gardening myself, I fully appreciate the products! I especially loved the peas. When shelling the peas fresh from the garden, I would eat almost as many as I left in the bowl. One of my happiest memories from my childhood is sitting in the basement with my grandfather, shelling (and eating) fresh peas and watching Rider games on TV.
I remember having a conversation with my sister Shauna when we were very young, about what to call our two grandfathers in order to differentiate which one we were talking about. We call our father “Dad,” so it made sense to call his father “Granddad.” And we decided our mother’s father would be called “Grandpa.” I don’t understand the logic now, but at the time it seemed self-evident. Anyways, the names stuck, to the point that it jars me even now to hear my cousins call my Granddad Kerr “Grandpa.”
I didn’t realize my grandfather was a fan of jazz until I was in University, and getting into jazz myself. I had never heard him playing a jazz record, I only remembered classical music on the stereo or radio. But it made sense – even though he grew up in Tofino (on Vancouver Island), he went to high school in Vancouver in the late 30s and early 40s – the prime of big band jazz. And in fact, he was a huge fan of Duke Ellington and Count Basie and the like. It turns out that the reason I never heard him listening to jazz was because my grandmother hated it – to her, it sounded like noise.
One time when I was in BC, I went fishing with my grandfather and one of my uncles. I don’t remember where, exactly, but it was a beautiful river in the forest. My grandfather was pretty strict about rules, though – he wouldn’t let me fish because I didn’t have a license. They were fly-fishing, and it looked like a lot of fun, but since I couldn’t fish with them, I went off by myself and made little nature videos with my uncle’s video camera. I’m still a little disappointed that I never learned to fly-fish from my grandfather.
I liked how my grandfather would always mull over a questions before he answered, no matter what the question was. He would actually and seriously think about what he would say about something before saying it aloud, and his answers were always thoughtful and reflective, and use no more words than necessary. I admire that, and wish more people would do the same.