LIFE 'ND STAFF
I spent the day before my parents came to live in California looking for a new dress. I was eight months pregnant, so it was very difficult to find something that would drape my bulk and show it off to the best advantage. At that point in my pregnancy, I had the hardest time making up my mind. After visiting four or five shops in the mall, I ended up back in the first maternity store where I've been that day, buying the first dress that I saw. It was bright, red-pink and, after schlepping my way from one end of the mall to the other for 4 hours, I must've looked as wilted and worn out as Santa Claus on December 26th. I felt that the eyes of every person at the airport, including the unbelieving gaze of my parents, were drawn to my round, neon colored person, as my husband and I (in my dress) descended the escalator to meet them at the gate.
I should explain a few things. Mom, Dad, and I emigrated to the U.S. from Soviet Russia, nine years before this. The ungrateful child that I was, I soon left them to join the Unification Church Movement, where I met my husband, (Taka) Toyoda, from Japan. When I became pregnant at 34, my parents, who by then stopped hoping for a grandchild, eagerly quit their comfortable, settled life in New York and came to live close to us in California.
We lived in a small, fresh one bedroom apartment. Mom and Dad's furniture wouldn't arrive for the next two weeks, so they had to stay with us there for that period of time. Considering that they just left forever their roomy apartment in New York City, their mood was, understandably, glum. We let them have our bedroom, only to hear my Mom's complaints about our treasured futon's wooden planks cutting into her back. And so it began.
My mother and I always had a turbulent relationship. She made a mistake of raising me to be an idealist and to challenge the authority. Hers was the first authority I challenged. We both would have gladly given our lives for each other, but after all those years as a missionary when I lived in a, basically, positive, supportive atmosphere, it was very hard to go back to getting verbally slapped every few minutes.
Fortunately, however long those weeks seemed to us, they were finally over. My parents and their furniture were successfully installed in their own place, about ten minutes away from us. We visited each other quite often. I had to help them get situated in California; I took them to the appointments and showed them around. It was a formidable undertaking, since I didn’t drive then, and we had to go everywhere by bus. People in my neighborhood became used to seeing me, on the last stages of pregnancy, galloping across the three lanes of traffic to catch the approaching bus. For some reason, we could never get the schedule right, so we ended up standing on the bus stops, sometimes, for an hour. A few times I stuck my belly and my thumb out and got us a ride that way.