On Monday October 14, 2019 the world became a little darker with the loss of our mother’s bright smile. Emiko Dougherty was 87 years old. I believe she left this world a little early so that she could once again be with the man who called her “sweetheart” – her husband of 65 years, James Dougherty who passed away three months earlier on July 11, 2019.
Emiko was an athlete, a talented seamstress, excellent cook, successful gardener, decorated bowler, creative artist in many types of media, strategic card player, devoted wife, mother and childlike grandmother – childlike in all the ways a grandmother should be. She had kooky ways of handling things – like half-filled water bottles placed in the yard to keep stray cats away, or wrapping green onions in a thin scarf for children to wear around their necks to heal a sore throat – but that didn’t stop people from going to her when the going was tough. She didn’t stop mothering until she needed mothering herself.
Born near the famous Mt. Fuji, Emiko spoke of walking to school under the snow. Yes – she said they would dig tunnels through the snow for the children to go to school. At the end of WWII, she talked about how she and her siblings would linger around the railroad tracks and wait for a train. Their patience would be rewarded with gifts of chocolate candy bars tossed to them by the American soldiers on the train.
Emiko and James met in a dance hall where she worked as a dancer. James was smitten. They married on April 1, 1944. He taught her to speak and write English. She was a good student – when she came to the United States, she studied by herself and was able to pass the United States citizenship test on her very first try.
They moved around a bit, being a military family, but settled in Fayetteville. Emiko would get her hair styled every Wednesday, bowl several times a week, play cards with her girlfriends once a week, and care for her family. In her spare time at home, she enjoyed playing Nintendo! She was very good at it.
In 2010, Emiko had a stroke that left her unable to speak and unable to use her right side. After raising her three daughters, helping to raise her grandchildren and great-grandchildren and caring for James for about 10 years after his stroke and heart attacks, Emiko became the one needing a caregiver. She and James remained side by side, just enjoying each other’s company and supporting each other as only they could. I hope that’s what they are doing now.
Emiko is survived by three daughters, six grandchildren, eleven great-grandchildren, a son-in-law, a grandson-in-law and a sister and her family in Japan.
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