David O’Meara was a successful advertising executive with a large marketing firm on the east coast. He was well liked by his colleagues and subordinates, but outside of work he had no social life. He never married, rarely dated, and had no children. Most everyone knew David kept to himself. In fact, outside of a few random encounters in the park with colleagues, he wasn’t seen.
David lived a mostly moderate life and never did anything in excess. He lived in a modest apartment albeit it was in the best high-rise in the city. He ate in most of the time, but occasionally he’d walk a few blocks for a nice meal. There was one Japanese cuisine restaurant that he loved – their sushi chef was top notch. However, on Friday’s he was a regular at the local burger joint just across the street from his apartment. He’d come to know the owner quite well – at least in the joint environment.
One particular Friday, David decided to call in a take-out order to give him more time to catch up with a few personal items.
He made his way down to the lobby and briefly engaged the bellhop.
“Going to get your burger?” the bellhop chuckled.
“Yes, you know me. When I find a good place, I’m quick to become a repeat customer. Their smokehouse burger is the best, I’ve found. So, that’s what I’m getting tonight. You want anything?”
“Nope, I’m good. I just ate before coming on duty. Enjoy.”
“Thanks. As always, I’ll see you later.”
David crossed the busy street and entered. The owner saw him immediately and held up his hand indicating five more minutes. David acknowledged with a nod and took a seat on the couch in the waiting nook. Next to him sat a young woman of Japanese descent. He wasn’t one for speaking to strangers, but something begged him to speak.
“I’ve never seen this place so busy.”
She smiled back, “My first time here.”
“Oh, you’re going to love it. Best burgers in town.”
“That’s what I ordered. I hope you’re right.”
“Well, I like them. I’m David,” holding out his hand.
“I’m Akari,” she returned and shook his hand.
“That’s a great Japanese name.”
“You new around here? Sorry to be so forward.”
“No, yeah – just moved here from Japan. I’ve come ahead of my parents.”
“You speak the English language well.”
“Thank you. That’s my food. It was nice to meet you.”
“Likewise, perhaps I’ll see you around.”
“Perhaps. Goodbye.” And with that and a quick smile she was gone.
David felt he had to be twice her age – old enough to be her father.
“Here’s your order, David,” the owner yelled out.
David grabbed the bag, paid, and returned, “I’ll see you next Friday.”
The owner nodded and David made his way back to his apartment.
David woke up at seven the next morning, got dressed, and ate the second half of his burger while standing over the kitchen sink. It was that good. It was Saturday and he usually started the day by walking through the park before heading to the north side for lunch.
As he entered the park, he noticed the cherry blossoms were close to popping. He walked toward them and thought he saw Akari coming toward him. He raised his hand. “Akari? Is that you?”
“Yes. Funny running into you here.”
“Well, yes, it is coincidental. I’ve been anticipating the pop of the cherry blossoms.”
“Yes, it’s nice to see a little piece of my culture here.”
“Yeah, some guy planted these handful of trees about ten years ago. I’ve been enjoying them ever since. I was going to sit here for a little. Sit with me?”
David and Akari sat on the park bench in close proximity to the trees and exchanged pleasantries and some background of each other. David then had an idea.
“Why don’t you come work for me? I mean, not directly, well sort of.”
“I’m not sure what I can offer. I’ve no marketing experience.”
“Right. As part of my role, I direct the Cultural Inclusion Program. It’s an effort to engage and share different cultures for everyone who works there. It’s quite fun. I could get you on the team for that…you know if you like.”
“That sounds fun. I’ll give it a shot.”
“We celebrate a number of cultures. Riku, who works for me and on the team is in charge of the Japanese culture. I’ll speak with him and set up an interview.”
“Great, here’s my number.”
“Here’s my card. I work in that building so it’s not far,” David pointed out.
“I look forward to it.”
“I’m sorry to cut our conversation short, but I have a place to be shortly. I’ll be in touch.”
“By all means. See you later.”
They shook hands and David walked off.
David followed through with his promise and introduced Akari and Riku. Akari took the job and she and Riku worked side by side for months before they began dating. Akari eventually moved in with Riku. A few months following, Akari’s parents arrived and the two were married the next spring. It was a traditional Japanese wedding, and it was held in the park as the cherry blossoms were popping.
Over the course of that year, Riku and Akari’s lives had changed dramatically, but David’s hadn’t changed at all – except for developing a relationship with Akari. He treated her as his own daughter or daughter-in-law.
Not another six months went by when Akari found herself pregnant. Their lives would be forever changed.
A few months into Akari’s pregnancy, they were visiting the park, as the three had come to do every Saturday morning, when David received a call and had to leave abruptly. He simply explained that he had an urgent personal matter that he needed to attend to.
Sadly, David’s grandmother had passed. It was his last surviving grandparent and parent for that matter. She was very old, feeble, and bedridden – and over the last few years had lost her memory of David.
He rushed to the north side and to where his grandmother had been staying. He said his goodbyes and told the caretakers he’d be returning Sunday night to finalize all arrangements and meet with the facility manager, which was scheduled for seven o’clock.
The next day he spent planning the arrangements for his grandmother. It was unusually dark and hard rain pounded the streets most of the day. As the night drew closer, he realized he’d better eat before leaving. So, he called the burger joint and ordered take-out. He left all of his papers and documents on the table, grabbed his raincoat, and headed to the lobby. As usual, he ran into the bellhop.
“Where you headed in this weather?” the bellhop chuckled.
“A quick burger. My grandmother passed yesterday, and I must meet someone about the arrangements.”
“Thanks. As always, I’ll see you later.”
David stood at the curb peering around a delivery truck and assessing where to cross. The area near the curb was flooded. He peered around the truck again and stepped into street. His front foot slipped, and he fell sideways into an oncoming delivery truck striking his head on the bumper – killing him instantly. The truck slid several feet to a stop pinning David’s lifeless body underneath.
Sadly, the entire incident was witnessed by both the owner of the burger joint and the bellhop. They rushed to the street, but it was too late and there was nothing that could be done. So, they kept the driver calm until the police arrived. Once the scene was cleared, the bellhop and the owner stepped into the lobby and called Riku, whom they both had come to know through David. The bellhop agreed to let them into David’s apartment, at their convenience.
Riku and Akari rushed over immediately meeting them in the lobby and all four then proceeded to David’s apartment. On the ride up in the elevator, the bellhop let everyone know that David’s grandmother had passed the previous day and that he was on his way to finalize her arrangements when the accident occurred.
As they sat around the kitchen table reviewing the pile of papers and documents, they came to learn that David visited his grandmother every day or night except for Friday and had been doing so for many years. The arrangements were well planned and written making it easy for someone to follow through. Riku and Akari suggested they’d make sure the arrangements were handled and would take care of David’s grandmother’s funeral.
They then discovered David’s will and learned that his grandmother was his maternal grandmother and was of Japanese descent – and her name was Nozomi. They also discovered that Nozomi was David’s middle name.
After further reading of the will, it was discovered that Akari was named as the sole beneficiary of David’s estate. Tears rolled down her face. She had no idea.
David had arranged to acquire a section of the park and had completed the transaction several months prior. He also had set aside enough money for someone to manage it and expand it – and had included quite a some of money for Akari.
Riku and Akari had struggled to agree on a baby name until the moment around the table, as they learned more about David and his grandmother. “Nozomi, the baby’s name will be Nozomi,” Akari cried out.
Nozomi Park was officially named and created some six months later and after Nozomi was born. Every year the cherry blossoms popped bigger and bolder than ever. Riku, Akari, and baby Nozomi managed the park for several years before the company acquired it. The park had become synonymous with their Cultural Inclusion Program.
The park was eventually renamed Nozomi O’Meara Park. To this day, the park has grown ten-fold and has upwards of twenty-five different cultures represented. The main attraction is the five cherry blossom trees, which they learned were originally planted by David. They line the walkway to the new greenhouse with a plaque at the entrance that reads:
Nozomi O’Meara Park – Created for everyone regardless of race, color, or creed as a catapult for learning other cultures. It was the creative idea of David Nozomi O’Meara and was donated to the world by him – and is dedicated to the memory of his grandmother, Nozomi, who was the symbol of David’s hope.
Each of the five cherry blossom trees represent:
· Chi (earth) represents the hard, solid objects of Earth.
· Sui (water) represents the fluid, flowing, and the formless things in the world.
· Ka (fire) represents the energetic, forceful, moving things in the world.
· Fu (wind) represents things that grow, expand, and enjoy freedom of movement.
· Ku (void) represents those things beyond and within our everyday comprehension, particularly those things composed of pure energy before they manifest; the emptiness that the energy is made up of.
Source: Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godai_(Japanese_philosophy)#The_elements