I wrote a story about my grandmother, Hatsuko Ishikawa's 100th birthday for Saveur some years ago. I pitched it to the magazine a year before grandmother's big birthday to see if they would be interested, and while I got their enthusiastic support, I wasn't sure when the story will come out. I wanted it to come out while grandmother was alive. I flew to Japan with a photographer friend, Marissa Roth to see my grandmother in Kamakura. Our visit got some opposition from my relatives who thought we we were shortening grandmother's life by bringing a stranger into the house and disturbing her peace and quiet. But I made the bold decision to go ahead and write the story and take as many pictures as possible. When we got there, grandmother welcomed us. She couldn't do too much at her old age except to talk story. But I didn't ask for anything more. Grandmother showed Marissa the old plum tree, which was the subject of the story. Marissa took pictures of grandmother standing by her favorite tree, from which she made pickled plums, umeboshi, every year. Grandmother was happy we came. That evening, I cooked sukiyaki for us. I don't want to brag but it was the best sukiyaki I ever had. Grandmother and Marissa thought so too.
The plum story was published but sadly my grandmother did not live to see it. Nevertheless, she lived to a ripe age of 102. I loved her dearly. I still have some of grandmother's umeboshi left in a jar. They are crystallized like the legacy grandmother left behind. i recently got a copy of the story from Marissa, so I decided to post it on the website. Here is the link to the Saveur story.