Over 20 years ago my beloved biological father Dr. Francis Sueo Sugiyama passed away. He had been sick for about a month, in and out of the hospital, but his death was unexpected. He was only 81, and had intended to live to 90. Sadly, he did not, but he died of old age nonetheless, not due to any cancer or other terminal illness. He had practiced dentistry and orthodontics in our home village in North Kohala, Hawaii for over 30 years.
And Dad was also an artist of Hawaiian landscapes and painted beautiful images on smooth rocks. Happily he was also a world traveler and had been retired for 20 years. This was success for my father, as he had grown up very poor, the youngest of 8 children to immigrant sugar plantation indentured servants/workers from Hiroshima, Japan. He told me that he and his siblings had to walk to elementary school barefoot in rural Trust Territory of Hawaii. When my father was 12 years old, one of his teenaged older brothers (Mitsuto) was dragged and killed by a sugar plantation mule. One of his older sisters (Helen Hayayo) later died after giving birth to her 5th child on the rural island of Molokai, but such was the life of sugar plantation families.
In Spring, 1942 he was expelled from USC Dental School (due to his race, following the Pearl Harbor attack) and was given a “voluntary pass” & fled Los Angeles by train for Chicago, barely escaping the internment of his fellow Japanese Americans. He persevered and got readmitted to the University of Maryland Dental School and moved to Baltimore a year/half later. After Dental School he returned to his home town to practice dentistry and met my mother there. He was also the last of his siblings to die, so he was the last to be born and the last to die. Fittingly, his Japanese name Sueo means “last one.”
Missing my father on Father’s Day 2016, and his 20th anniversary of his death was on May 8 — Mother’s Day 2016. He had been supportive of me, his only daughter.
Cherish your loving father, if you have one. And if you don’t, become one. My husband Albrecht is a loving father to our son, so I certainly appreciate that as well.
Happy Father’s Day to all fathers – biological, adoptive, foster, step, fathers-in-law, grandfathers, greatgrandfathers, etc. Enjoy your special day.