A Letter to a Friend


Hi Baba,

I can hardly believe it, but a year has already passed since you left us. I’m fairly convinced that, as we grow up, time does in fact move faster than it used to. I must be getting old.

There’s a fair amount of stuff that has happened since you’ve been gone. I figured you might want to hear about some of it, just in case you’ve been partying and getting crunk (that means “having tons of fun”) up there. I imagine every day is filled with scratch-offs that only reveal winners and puzzles with no missing pieces and I don’t blame you for indulging in the finer things.

Anyway, let me give you the bad news first.

The Mariners are pretty disappointing this year. They’re not going to make the playoffs (again), and they basically failed to meet all the expectations laid out before them at the start of the season. Most people predicted they’d be World Series contenders, myself included. I know. We never learn. You think we’d learn from our mistakes, but we don’t. We did this to ourselves, really. Then again, the Mariners have a way of toying with our emotions like no other organization in sports. I don’t know how you were so diligent about tuning in to all their games. They could use more fans like you.

Despite their overall suckiness, your favorite player, Hisashi Iwakuma, threw a no-hitter in August. He’d been having a rough year up to that point, too, so it was pretty cool to see him pitch as well as he did on that particular day. And it was an afternoon game, too, so I know you would have watched the whole thing start to finish — with the exception of a quick nap in the middle innings, let’s be honest.

I know you’d be a little pissed off with these guys losing like they are, but there’s always next year. We’ve been saying that for too long, but I know that we both know deep down that it’s not the end of the world right now. And when the M’s finally do make it to where they want to be, it’ll be that more awesome for all of us who have been along for the ride.

But enough about them.

Your grandson got engaged this year. Not me. The good one. The tall one. I think we all saw this coming a mile away. I’m sure you knew already. I’ll update you when they figure out what this wedding’s going to look like.

Our teriyaki place stopped serving like half their menu a few weeks ago. I don’t know what the hell they’re doing, Baba. It’s like they’re trying to run themselves out of business or something. I mean, I still go there most weeks, but come on, it’s the principle of the matter. And yes, I still have lunch at your place every Friday. There has always been someone to eat with me. People have done a pretty good job filling in in your absence. But no one rushes me back to work, lest my employer deem lunch with an old lady a fireable offense.

There’s a three-legged raccoon living in your yard. Yeah, no kidding. And based on what I know about him, I think he might be a degenerate drunk, too. He climbs up the tree by your front door and slumps himself over the lowest branch in broad daylight. Did you leave sake out where animals could get into it? Is there fire water buried in your lawn that we don’t know about?

Your son and daughter-in-law (you may also know her as my mother) have moved into your house temporarily. Their home is getting redone. Remember when my mom used to try to clean your house all the time? You should have seen all the crap we dug up when they left their place.  You would have laughed your butt off. It was a disaster. But now it’s filling your garage, so I guess we’ve come full circle.

As for me, I didn’t do a whole lot this year. Played some basketball, worked, golfed a bit, wrote some stuff here and there, the usual. I’m doing all right. I miss having you there to cheer me up on Fridays, I’m not gonna lie. You put things in perspective with your outlook on life and it kept me feeling good about where I was and what was in store for me. I know you’d tell me that everything is going to be okay from here on out, and I’m sure it will be, but it was different when I could hear you say it. I mostly just miss hearing your voice, I think. You never once told me anything that didn’t make me feel better about the world around me, so when I heard your voice I just knew that you’d have something good to say. You always had something good to say.

More than anything else, I hope you’re having the best time ever right now. You deserve it. All the vacations you wanted to go on, all the time you could have been spending with Papa Akita, you get to do all that now and I’m sure it’s been a blast.

We have one year down and there are many more to go. I miss you every day. I could never say that when you were here, and I don’t know if I would even be able to say it out loud right now, but I do. You were my favorite person to talk to, and one of my best friends in the whole world, and I was lucky we lived five minutes from each other so we could hang out as much as we did. I miss hanging out. I miss our Fridays together. I miss all the goofy things you used to say. But I know, most of all, that everything’s going to be okay. And you would have told me that if you were here. We’ll be okay. Now go back to having fun.

P.S. I’m going to keep watching the Mariners ride out this lost year because you would have. They might not want me tuning in, but that’s a different story.






2 thoughts on “A Letter to a Friend”

  1. Dear Alex,
    Thanks for helping me to remember Auntie Tope. She was soooooo proud of you. I can hear her answer to the question “How ya doin?” That upbeat “Can’t complain!”
    I will try to be more cheery, just to honor her.
    Next time I see you, I want to hear more of the wisdom that she shared with you on those priceless fridays!

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