I grew up on Janetwood Drive in Oxnard. I always thought it was so cool that I lived on the street that was named after my Mom. My Dad always said how lucky we were to have the neighbors we had. On one side was Ed & Linda and their son Eddie and on the other side was Doakes and Mae. Doakes and Mae were Japanese and quite possibly the most generous people I have had the privilege to know. Mae died last Thursday. It's been a rough year.
When I was born, Doakes and Mae came over with the largest stuffed animal ever. A giant polar bear bigger than I was. I am sure they also brought clothes and toys and I think they brought something for my Mom. On New Year's, we were always invited to their house to watch some football and eat, eat, eat. I was a good eater, and my parents often remind me that I ate, ate, ate all their lobster, and I kept asking for more. "More lobster!" Mae would just giggle and give me more, much to my Mom's embarrassment. Mae and her family and friends would stay up all night, cooking for New Year's. The spread would be elaborate, from Japanese delicacies to American food. Lobster was always on the menu, and lots of it. Doakes and his brothers were fishermen, and they often had fresh caught fish too. The sounds of the football game were always in the background, as well as people laughing, talking, probably betting on the game.
Halloween was always the best. Doakes and Mae would buy me a special candy gift from See's Candy. We would trick-or-treat around the neighborhood, and we would always visit Doakes and Mae last, since they were next door. They would invite us in to see my costume and tell me how cool / lovely / amazing I looked. The special candy for me, was always bigger than all my friends', and it always made me feel so special.
Mae worked at the local florist. I remember when my Grandma died, we were all a mess over it. Not only did Doakes and Mae send the largest and most lovely flower arrangement, but Mae made sure to include Lily of the Valley flowers (my Grandma's favorite, and quite hard to get in October). Their generosity and selflessness was something I will never forget.
Just a few years ago, I was home from Philly and my parents and I went over to visit Doakes and Mae. They were smaller than I remembered, and maybe a little grayer. Their house was exactly the same and I remembered it, meticulous, and filled with family pictures and mementos. We sat and chatted, their voices the same lilt, their conversations so similar to those I had with them as a kid. We talked about old times, and how much we missed being their neighbors.
I sent them a Christmas card a few years ago, with the date of our future wedding. Mae wrote in her card to me how excited they were about the wedding and that they had already blocked off their calendar. The RSVP for our wedding came back with an excited note, and we received not one, but four (!) place settings from them as a gift. I had a chance to see the at our wedding, although the time was too brief. Again, they were so tiny, but had the biggest grins on their faces as they met my new husband.
It's so sad to think about a world without Doakes and Mae together. Their generosity and selflessness knows no bounds, and I feel certain Doakes is lost without her. If you have a chance, send a prayer up to heaven for my good friend Mae. She was an amazing and wonderful woman and I'm sad to know she's not here anymore. I can only hope that in my contact with her, a bit of her spirit and her generosity rubbed off on me, and perhaps you, too.