Remembering Uncle Easy

A couple years ago I mentioned that I used to help my Uncle Easy with Christmas shopping. I've been going through my old pictures (as part of changing photo management software) and running across pictures of him made think back on my favorite uncle.

Uncle Easy at Niagara Falls, 6/1973

Uncle Easy at Niagara Falls, 6/1973

I think it's safe to say that I'm not the only one who considered Uncle Easy the favorite (his real name was Isao, but everyone called him Easy). He was the only one not married, near the middle age-wise (my dad being second youngest), and was generous to a fault. There are so many memories, but here are some of my favorites.

Rotating dinners

Uncle Easy lived by himself, but didn't really cook very much. A few nights a week he would have dinner at different houses: Monday with Uncle Mas, Tuesday with us, and Friday with Aunt Haru. We looked forward to hearing about his week, but one time that sticks in my mind was when he was told he needed to reduce his sodium. He showed us a list of things which he should avoid or limit, then sheepishly said "But shoyu (soy sauce) isn't on the list!" We broke the news to him that the list was intended for American diets, and that he'd need to cut back on shoyu.

Can you sub for me?

My uncle bowled a couple times a week (Tuesday and Friday). One week, way before I remember, Uncle Easy couldn't make it, so he asked my dad to sub for him. From that point on, my dad always bowled on Tuesday night, and it was the same scenario; some reference would come up to the night's bowling, my uncle would give my dad some money to cover things, my dad would say it wasn't necessary, and Uncle would insist (and prevail).

I need to buy more

Uncle was over for dinner and he mentioned he needed to head out to the store. "I need to buy more undershirts." We must have looked confused, so he added that he hadn't been able to get to the laundry. He was going to buy enough to get him through another week. Did I mention he was a bachelor?

Thunderbird to Continental

My parents at their wedding, riding in Uncle Easy's '58 Thunderbird

My parents at their wedding, riding in Uncle Easy's '58 Thunderbird

Just before my parents were married, my uncle bought a '58 Thunderbird and it was used to drive my parents to the reception. After that, he always bought Thunderbirds, but his last one was in '77 when Ford changed them to a mid-sized car. He preferred a larger car, so switched to Lincoln Continentals. In '84, I was back home from college when my Aunt Toshi was in town and we all went to Knott's Berry Farm for chicken dinner. Uncle showed us his new car, pointing out the carpeting lining the underside of the trunk! He passed away the next year, and my parents hung onto that car for quite a while. It was hard for them to let go of it, since it was a tangible part of my uncle.

Arthur Murray frequent dancer

Uncle spoke now and then about taking dancing classes, mostly what new things he was learning. In the late 70's he said they were learning disco, and I remember wondering what he thought of the music. All he said was that disco was pretty simple, since the beat was really strong and the steps were straightforward. He even demonstrated a couple steps.

After he passed away, we discovered that he had lots of certificates from Arthur Murray's. Even though we knew he enjoyed dancing, we had no idea just how much.


One year all of us cousins (Uncle's nieces and nephews) decided we should do something special for his birthday. Few of us had been in his home; until that point, the only time I remembered being there was picking him up early on a Saturday to go fishing. I forget who ended up doing reconnaissance to come up with ideas, but we ended up all pitching in for a couch.

The other thing we did was collect pictures of each of the cousins and made a collage. My second strongest memory of that birthday is of several of us at Uncle Mas' place, trying to figure out how to get all the pictures in. My strongest memory? Uncle Easy sitting on his new couch (which we presented to him on Uncle Mas' back porch) looking at the framed collage. He was speechless, and stared at it for a long time; I had never seen him so moved.