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February 19
1803 - Indian family members removed from Caamulus (Camulos) village, Piru area, are baptized at San Fernando Mission [record]


Commentary by Gene Dorio M.D.
| Monday, May 12, 2014

genedorioMy mother was born in Canada more than 92 years ago. Her father immigrated from Japan in 1910 to escape political persecution. She grew up on a farm in picturesque British Columbia growing apples – she still makes the best apple pie – and spoke perfect English with an occasional “eh.”

After World War II, my parents met in occupied Japan, as they both worked for the American Red Cross. Married, they moved to New York City, where my father resumed his public role in government. They had three sons, but because of political persecution, they were forced to move, ending up in Los Angeles.

My mom experienced her share of prejudice, especially after the war, but living in communities in New York and Los Angeles that were predominately African-American, Latino and Jewish minimized discrimination.

As a typical rambunctious child, I remember being with my mother and brother in court for a minor traffic violation, and afterward, outside, a woman wagging her index finger condescendingly in my mother’s face yelling, “Those are the worst-behaved children I have ever seen.” The angry tone of voice did not make my mom waver as she calmly turned to us and asked, “Want a piece of gum?”

Another time, she took me to visit a home we were interested in buying, and upon arrival told the gentleman, “I’m Mrs. Dorio and called to see your house.” Of course, seeing she was Asian, he immediately responded, “It’s not available,” slamming the door on us. I was only 11 years old, but knew it was because of prejudice, so I was angry. She recognized I was upset and calmly asked, “Want a piece of gum?”

Dorio_momThese are just a few moments of life she tended to ignore, as she saw evolving changes in our society that personal prejudice could not halt. Somewhere along the line in New York, she and my father knew and were involved with Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella and Don Newcombe integrating baseball. Fighting for rights and equality for all were what we were taught.

My father passed away in 1989, but she continued to work and be active. After retirement and losing her ability to drive, she was relegated to a less independent life. She still has her cat and garden, and she relishes visits from her grandkids and great grandkids. Getting up in years, health problems have impacted her. Last year, because of a hospitalization and illness, I decided I would honor my mother’s family by including her name in my writing tagline.

Not long ago while watching TV in her living room, a PBS station was showing clips of New York political strife during the late ’40s and early ’50s. As I noticed her intently looking at the screen, I asked, “Are you looking for dad?” Without a flinch in her glance, she said emphatically, “No, I’m looking for me.”

As most readers know, I am a physician in Santa Clarita, as is my brother. Our youngest brother retired several years ago but still teaches workers compensation law to lawyers and judges. The importance of having the influence of two parents in our life has been intricate in success.

Coming from an apple farm, to baking apple pies, to overturning the applecart of political persecution, our mother has contributed not only to her children, grandchild and great grandchildren, but also to the fabric of our society and nation.

Happy Mother’s Day, mom.

And thanks for the gum.

Love, your son,

Gene Uzawa Dorio, M.D.

 

Gene Uzawa Dorio, M.D., is a housecall geriatric physician on staff at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital and has been engaged as an advocate in many community activities. The views expressed in this column as his alone.

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2 Comments

  1. Incredible testimony to the life of your mother. Well done.

  2. Mike Bryant Mike Bryant says:

    Thanks for sharing! Amazing story.

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