Tuesday, October 19, 2010

In Memorium

Fond Memories of Bernadette

I was honored to speak at the memorial for Bernadette Janes last week. The family collected a carload of canned goods for the Cosgrove Center. It was a nice celebration of Ms. Janes' life organized by her family. All the social justice warriors of Cleveland attended. One of her sisters from Women Speak Out for Peace and Justice sent me this memory. I know that Bernadette's family was collecting memories on a website, but here is one more from Ms. Ikuta.

One day, I met round-faced white haired woman from Whittier, California. She told me that she is new to Cleveland area. She just moved here because her only daughter and son decided to settle in Lakewood. She wanted to meet like-minded people and decided to try a few organizations like Women Speak Out, city Club and Peace action because she was active with several progressive organizations in Whittier.

I often picked her up to attend meetings and we had rather passionate discourse about peace and justice issues and mental health care accessibility.

I could feel that her passion went much farther into opera singing, extensive reading of progressive books such as written by Howard Zinn, Noan Chomsky and many other thoughtful writers. She also hummed some tune while driving to and from the meetings and told me how she wished she could have developed serious singing career but it was not in her card. She grew up in a large family where extra money for cultural development was scarce.

As she spoke of her lost dreams her tone of voice was neither sour nor bitter and took pride in surviving so many challenges including her stint in the US Marine Corp. I still cannot believe this small woman was in that tough Marine Corps outfit. In spite of her agreeable smiles, there must have been tough core person in her short body.

She often spoke of her daughter, Debby and son Corry with deep caring and affection no matter how life could get tough. Bernadette certainly was a brave woman as well as wise.

As a board member of Women Speak Out she contributed much. She offered good ideas and was willing to take on big jobs such as calling volunteers who might be willing to work at the Holiday Peace Festival and Bazaar every year.

She never failed to get work done as she promised and it was good to be able to count on her. Even when she suffered from excruciating back pains she did all she could to keep out work moving. She certainly was a rare person of commitment and devotion.

Bernadette, Thank you for all you have done for us. We miss you very much. I can imagine you singing away from the top of your lungs standing with angels on a fluffy cloud and watching over us as we continue our struggles.

Yoshiko Ikuta

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