“ Hi Nana?” I said sweetly
“Yes? Hello Berlyn I have missed talking to you ” she answered slowly and sleepily.
“Me too, so I understand that you are an interesting woman.” I told her
“Yes okay and...?” she giggled
“I’d like to interview you.” I asked
Her voice suddenly lit up with excitement “Well that would be great!”
I hadn't talked since I was nine.
“Alright let's jump right into it……… umm.” I scrambled to find a working pencil on my messy desk which then caused me to drop my phone.
“ Is everything alright dear?” My nana asked in a worried tone.
“Uh….. YES!” I shouted, I found a pencil.
“Hi, hi, sorry, Interview right, my first question for you is What is one thing you miss from your childhood?” I questioned
“If you can remember , NOT saying you're old or anything.” I stumbled.
“Being a kid.” she said in a soft, kind voice.
I imagined her gazing off into the distance with a look on her face as if she was lovingly staring at something beautiful.
“I miss not having as much responsibility, being carefree and fun.”
She began to explain how when she was young she would build forts with her older brother Mike and younger sister Melodie on rainy days and how she fit in with her family even though she was different.
My Nana was born in Osaka, Japan November 19th 1952 just after world war two. After the war Japan was destroyed and thousands of children were put in orphanages, and my Nana was one of those thousands of children. Then a man named Joseph Thompson had changed my NaNa’s life dramatically. Lieutenant colonel Thompson was in the american air force, he had taken on the job to promote a program that encouraged U.S G.I’s (general issue) to adopt children from an orphanage near the air force base where he was stationed.
When Joseph was at the orphanage it was completely full a little over 100 children were in this small home, a woman at the orphanage handed joseph the noisiest baby in the home but her crying had dwindled at the sight of this man, her name was Chiyoko meaning “little one” in japanese. Joseph had instantly fallen in love with this baby girl and even though he was going to find children for other families he had come home with one of his own and her name would now be Rebecca Thompson.
“So Nana This brings me to my second question, How was school when you were growing up?“
“Since my father was in the air force we moved every other year to a new town and a new school and I have lived all other the country because he would get reassigned to different air force stations.”
Back in the 60’s when my nana was growing up she had lived in many towns in California, all of these places were fairly warm but she had also lived in cold places up in the North. during winter in the north it's not very cold and snowed but because this was back in the 60s girls were only allowed to wear dresses, even in 3 feet of snow she still had to wear her dress. My Nana hated moving and would rather live in one place and stay with all of her friends. Growing up my Nana had no trouble making friends the only hard part was moving away and trying to keep in keep in touch, there were no cell phones to just send a text or a call so the only way was mail.
“After a certain point you know you will leave but you just try to have fun while you're with them and live in the moment.”
As well as losing friends and having to wear dresses in the cold my Nana also struggled to catch up with the different work at every new school.
“Each time it was a new school came a new textbook, new teachers to get to know, and a new campus. All this was very frustrating to learn and get used to.”
The most time she had ever lived in one town was four years in southern California, it felt most like home and that’s why she chose to remain here today.
“Well other than you moving was there any other difficult times you overcame in your life?”
“You’re uncle, Mitch, I had him very young my senior year.” her voice started to shake.
“I wanted to give him up for adoption having hope knowing I grew up with a wonderful family and that he could have a great family too.”
She described to me the feelings she had about being adopted and how she loved her family but she always wondered what her mother was like. She couldn't give him up, she couldn’t have him wonder why she gave him up the thought of him always being clueless about his real mother killed her so she kept him, and soon after him came my dad and she loved both her boys and cared for them thoroughly.
“Okie dokie next question. What was the most significant change in your life?” I questioned while rapidly pushing the button on my pencil waiting for lead to appear.
“Being adopted and brought to a whole new country. I know I was only ten months old but my life would be completely different if I wasn't.” She answered sternly.
Being half Japanese growing up after world war two in america wasn't always easy for her, most people had a hard time accepting her.
“Things have changed a lot in the past twenty years, people are more open to diversity.”
Although there was some unaccepting people she rarely was bullied, But her family were so supportive of her and loved her unconditionally.
“When I was on spring break in high school I went to visit my cousins, I was with my cousin Jeri and her boyfriend getting food at the supermarket when he had called me a “jap”. I hadn't taken too much offense to this but Jeri was furious she got so mad that she punched him in the face and gave him a black eye. That was the last I saw of him.”
Her family had never paid much attention to the fact that she was adopted, sometimes they even forgot about it.
“So you are definitely close with your family but is there on specific family member that you don’t necessarily favorite but connect with better or more?” I tentatively questioned
“My dad, although I love my mom and siblings my dad was the one who fell in love with me and chose me out of thousands of children, he’s the one who brought me into a new country and providing me with a new wonderful life.”
My great grandfather died almost 20 years ago but he was a fantastic person, he had served his country for several year and loved and cared for his family. He had brought home a hopeless little orphan home without even asking his wife, he just fell in love and provided an amazing life for this ten month old baby and if it wasn't for him bring her home I might not even be here.
“Sounds like you had an awesome life with a very supportive family. Besides the traveling and moving you had to endure, is was there anything you would change” I questioned.
“Uhhh… I can’t think of anything, I mean life for sure has it’s challenges but they all lead to something great, all things lead to a brighter side.” She wisely stated her opinion in ways that made me feel much more optimistic.
“Alrighty thanks for the interview, I will talk to you later” I said graciously
My Nana is an amazing person with great love, stamina, and optimism. She is one person I love and look up to and hope to do great things just like her.
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Family Members Names
Nana: (Japanese) Chioko Takahashi
(American maiden name) Rebecca (Becki) Thompson
(name today) Rebecca Ellsworth= Age 64
Great grandpa: Joseph Thompson=died 1992
Great grandma: Kimie Thompson~pronounced ky-me=Age 89
Great uncle: Mike Thompson= Age: 67
Great aunt: Melodie Thompson= Age:62