I love you and wish you peace and eternal happiness. Until we meet again....
Since this priceless gift God gave us
Must from us one day depart,
Lavish her with love and kindness,
Real true love, with all your heart. —Stairs
God bless my mother; all I am or hope to be I owe to her. —Abraham Lincoln
MOTHER'S DAY - MAY 9TH, 2010
"What we have once enjoyed and deeply loved, we can never lose, for all that we love deeply becomes a part of us." -- Helen Keller
Elizabeth (Bessie) lived a full and productive life as a chief anesthesiologist, psychiatric doctor, Mother, Grandmother and Great Grandmother. In addition, she was licensed to teach flower arrangement and tea ceremony after ten years of study. In her spare time she decorated her home with beautiful flower arrangements. Born to an English father and Japanese mother, she melded both worlds beautifully. She was logical and practical yet compassionate and artistic. She had a flair for fashion and during her last years, she wrote and published haiku. Bessie was a trail blazer in her time and beat enormous odds and discrimination to be an accomplished doctor in Japan as an American citizen and Eurasian minority. She loved her career and worked hard...so hard that she sacrificed her health at times. She literally gave her all to those she cared for. We will miss her greatly and want you to join us in celebrating her wonderful life. Please add your comments below as you view the photos and narratives. Thank you!
Bessie has six grand sons (Kyle, Kristopher, Colin, James, Erich, Justin), one grand daughter (Veronica), and one great grand daughter (Emi Rei). She enjoyed getting together with them for birthdays and special occasions. She has two grand dogs and two grand cats. She babysat for Naomi the black tri puppy, who is four today. Sumire the blue merle puppy's cuteness brought her so much joy when she was ill. Here are a few photos of her many family get togethers.
Bessie was born in December 1924, the eldest daughter of Harry Brown from Birmingham, England and Iso Brown from Gunma Prefecture, Japan. (Pictured here with her mother as a baby.) Bessie lived a comfortable life in the section of Tokyo known as Yoyogi where many artists lived. She recalls living in a home with many animals, e.g. parrot, dogs, ducks, geese, etc. Her English father was very strict and didn't like her playing outside the family so kept their home active with animals in beautiful garden-like surroundings.
Her father started the first ketchup factory in Japan and also had a bakery "Coronation Bakery" while living in Yokohama. He later became a consul general for the British Embassy in Japan. Bessie was accepted to an exclusive women's medical school in Tokyo (Tokyo Joshi I-daigaku) and graduated with high honors. After her hospital internship, she worked for the Atomic Casualty Commission in Hiroshima, Japan to help victims of the World War II atomic bomb. She worked there for about three to four years. She married Mike Kusuda, a Japanese-American from Hawaii, stationed in Japan in 1950. She had three children, Margie, Valarie and Charles.
At the age of 40, Bessie returned to medical practice. In her 50s, Bessie was diagnosed with breast cancer while completing her Doctorate degree. After a masectomy and chemotherapy she successfully acquired her Doctorate degree. She became the Chief Anesthesiologist of Narita Red Cross Hospital in Chiba, Japan while in her mid-50s. She was an accomplished doctor at a time when there were only a few women doctors in Japan, not to mention the fact that she was an English citizen who then became an American citizen, living in Japan.
After retiring from being an anesthesiologist, she became a doctor specializing in psychiatric care in Gunma, Japan. She tells fascinating stories of how she had trees planted around the hospital so that when the mentally ill patients tried to commit suicide they would land on the trees. She laughs telling the story of how a patient said disappointedly to her, "Doctor, I tried to die but landed safely on the shrubs." The hospital was infested with scabies and she was able to help eradicate it with her background in medicine. Amazingly, she was in her late 60s and early 70s when working in this new field. She was a fearless person.
Bessie was such an optimist and so determined when she had a goal. She could do anything she put her mind to. When she was required to learn a third language outside of Japanese and English to graduate from medical school, she studied French with casette tapes and TV lessons. She passed the French test and did very well --without ever visiting France or speaking with a French person.
When she was diagnosed with lung cancer (from second hand smoke), her daughter made arrangements for surgery and treatment at University of Washington, after which she remained in Issaquah with her family in the late 1990s. She was later diagnosed with yet another cancer, cervical cancer, and underwent surgery and radiation treatment at the UW. Her many illnesses are attributed to working in Hiroshima, where radiation from the atomic bomb resulted in health issues to residents years, even generations, later. At 83, she was determined to bring Japanese anesthetic practices to ease pain into the U.S. She wrote letters to her former UW doctors to adopt these practices with the goal of helping her daughter recover from a persistant illness.
She lived in Bellewood Retirement Apartments for about nine years. She enjoyed getting to know the residents and made some good friends. One of her best friends, Helen, introduced her to the world of haiku. She is a true trail blazer of her time who did not let societal obstacles deter her from her dreams. She is a courageous and compassionate lady who touched those who experienced her optimism and can-do spirit.
Bessie passed away in Feb. 2009 in Bellevue, WA, from pneumonia. She was 84 and died peacefully with her children at her side. She leaves a lasting legacy through her children Margie Bartlett, Valarie Kusuda-Smick, Charles Kusuda; seven grandchildren; great-granddaughter; and two brothers. She is preceded in death by her husband Mike, her brother Harry Francis Jr., her sisters Georgina Gretel and Mary. A family memorial service was held for Bessie at Calvary Chapel Eastside in Bellevue, WA on Feb. 22, 2009. She will be missed greatly but can finally rest in peace after many years of struggling with her health.
Remembrances in Elizabeth Kusuda's honor may be made to help the homeless at Plymouth Housing Group, 2113 Third Ave, Seattle, WA 98121.
Bessie -- you will forever be in our hearts...we love you so much!
There are no extra pieces in the universe. Everyone is here because he or she has a place to fill. -- Deepok Chopra