Monday, June 4, 2012

Marian Yoshiye Hara

It was a great funeral.

My dad was obsessed with getting his one sound-effect right. He wanted everyone in the audience to envision Auntie Marian on the green ready to tee off. And right when she swings her club…


I had to keep my hands on the phone that was plugged into Adam’s boom box. And then right at the moment, I hit the play button and the sound of a golf-ball getting hit was played. It was a lot of effort for one little effect. But it was her, a funeral that played by her rules somehow. And filled with bonus points.

Auntie Marian was a character. Her hands were so fast she was fired from a farm for being too efficient. She always had black hair—even when she lost it all.

She came storming into the office one day furious. Marge looked at her and opened her mouth, but before she could even say anything.

“You don’t think that I actually think they’re dummies when I call them that, right?” Marian was fuming, the smell of stale smoke hung on her athletic gear. She had been smoking again.

“Well, don’t you think they’re dummies when you say that?” Marge answered slowly; she had leaned back in her chair with her legs up on her desk. She knew not to answer Marian directly or with too much energy. Marian would only send it right back.

Marian paused, “well of course I think they’re dummies, but I just don’t want them to think I’m being unkind.”

“So you want them to know they’re dummies but you want it to be kind?”

“Of course!” She threw her hands up and stormed out. Marge watched her storm down the hall and went back to relaxing on her break.

The cousins came rushing out of grandma and grandpa’s house. Marian, in her bright Christmas sweater, opened the trunk of her car. Her grand nephews and nieces each took in large boxes wrapped in newspaper. Old Sunday comics, sports sections, and the metro section of The Oregonian. I was last in line and carried in her annual Christmas dish, jello. My dad looked on and smiled, idly wondering if jello was the only thing she could cook.

Marian was standing behind the gym with a cigarette. One of the coaches came up to her.

“How do you do it? What’s your secret?” Marian was coach for several champion teams. The boys’ tennis team had been crushing the competition so it was no surprise that another coach would be looking for some tips. Marian took a long drag on her cigarette.

The coach looked at her expectantly, “seriously, what’s your secret?”

Marian smiled and the smoke seeped through her teeth. She stubbed out the butt and smiled with a glint of mischief in her eyes. She patted the coach on the shoulder and walked inside wordlessly.