“5th Place? Pumpkin Head!”

The kindness continues to flow from Hiroshima.  As written in a prior short story, “An Atomic Spark from a 1937 Yearbook“, Ms. Kanetou was credited with locating the last copy of my dad’s 1937 high school yearbook.  It was amazing she found that copy as Dad’s cherished high school and the city itself was obliterated on August 6, 1945.

While Dad is suffering from dementia, he cheerfully recalled his high school track days in detail while looking through his yearbook…  He went so far as to say he won 1st and 2nd places at track and field events.  Needless to say, I was a bit leery given his status.

Well, dumbfounded is the best word in this case.  Ms. Kanetou – after learning of Dad’s recollections of his competitions – actually tracked down (yes, a pun) records of the track events from 1936.  Such kindness and devotion is just phenomenal. They are below; since I know you all can read Japanese, my Dad’s name is above the red arrows (金本).

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Hiroshima Track and Field results from 1936. (I did miss Dad placing 2nd in a 800 meter relay race.)
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Hiroshima Track and Field results from 1936.

Yes, he DID take 1st and 2nd places in the triple-jump, broad jump, 100 meter dash and the 800 meter relay! He did place lower in what I think are more regional competitions but its clear he was quite an athlete.

But when I showed him these reports, his comment was, “5th place?  Did I do that bad?  I don’t remember that.  Pumpkin head!”

金籐様、塚本様、二人のお蔭様で父はとてもハッピーでした。有難う御座いました。

12 thoughts on ““5th Place? Pumpkin Head!””

    1. It’s peculiar how the aging mind works. He’ll remember he parked his bicycle near a lady’s shop but will forget he ate breakfast ten minutes after finishing… So when I say, “Dad, you just ate breakfast,” he whacks his forehead and says, “Pumpkin head.”

      I hope he doesn’t whack his head when you called your youngest pumpkin head! lol

      1. No head whacking with pumpkin head here! For some reason I find that totally adorable that he calls himself Pumpkin Head when he forgets something. 🙂

  1. My wife asked a school official if they had a photo of my dad from his Wyoming High School Annual. The lady didn’t know. She said she would get back with her. My wife hung up expecting that to be the end of the story.

    A few days later a book came in the mail. It was a copy of his High School Annual yearbook – with a note: “Keep it; we don’t need it.” What a boon! For our father has always kept his past a big secret; all his past as a child. Now we have photos of my dad when he was quite young.

    Your dad. I have had grandparents go through dementia. It is sad, but they? They seem okay with it after awhile. The nursing home told me to write a letter for my grandmother – just one. They would give it to her every few days – and she would love it, thinking it was new. Sad. Ditto the paintings she had done: she would look at them and say: “Oh my! How pretty! I wonder who did that one?” And she would be looking at a painting SHE had done! But it gave her joy and light in her life. And they do forget the darnedest things sometimes.

    I hope that you can take care of your dad for a very long time. it sounds like he’s a joy to be with (tho’ like with any human being, everyone no doubt pulls their hair some times – I know I do, even with my dearest ones). Tell your dad he earned you a big smile 🙂 – and well as him. And pumpkins are not empty: they are full of the seeds of life, just waiting . . . wiser than we know.

    1. Yes, Ms. Kanetou is just so amazing. I have chatted with her briefly by phone about a month ago. I understand the principal of the successor school is following the developments closely as well. 🙂

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