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Dictionary.com defines “memorize” as “to commit to memory; learn by heart”.

I learned so many wonderful things by heart on this date in 1973, as my husband and I welcomed our baby son into the world. As my obstetrician got his first look and said, “It’s a boy!”, I answered with “His name is Joseph James.” I memorized that moment, learned it by heart, and my heart was forever changed.

Newborn Joseph, 15 minutes old.  (And yes, those are my knees behind him as I took the picture)

Newborn Joseph, 15 minutes old. (And yes, those are my knees behind him as I took the picture)

As our firstborn, Joseph took his place in a family filled with grandmothers and great-grandmothers. He was my precious Grammy Buffington’s first great-grandchild, and she welcomed him with eager arms the day after his birth. When we first got home from the hospital, we were all pretty frazzled — all but the new Great-Grammy. She just sat down in the rocker with him for some good, quiet, cuddle time.

Great-Grammy Buffington with Joseph, on our first trip to Arroyo Grande.

Great-Grammy Buffington with Joseph, on our first trip to Arroyo Grande.

Mom had a hard time with the idea of a half-Japanese grandchild at first, but Joseph quickly worked his magic on his Grammy Pender (and on everyone else).

Mom and Joseph started out rather awkwardly with each other, but not for long!

Mom and Joseph started out rather awkwardly with each other, but not for long!

It took us a few weeks to get to Los Angeles to introduce Joseph to his Grandma Kawasaki, but it was love at first sight. I’m sorry they didn’t get to spend more time together as he was growing up.

Joseph met Grandma Kawasaki when we went south for her mother's funeral.  It was a bittersweet moment, I'm sure.

Joseph met Grandma Kawasaki when we went south for her mother’s funeral. It was a bittersweet moment, I’m sure.

And now my precious baby boy is 42 years old…and my heart skips a beat when he answers my phone calls with, “Hi, Mom!” And with so much emotion, so many memories, I answer, “Hi, Son!”

Happy Birthday, Joseph James Kawasaki. Your mom loves you.

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