Doctor at heart
I hope I do not have to do many of these, but for the second month in a row I want to honor the memory of one of our great Parkview members. This time it is Dr. Tada Sato. The reason I am doing this is because we will not have a memorial service at our church for him either and I know that in Parkview the Sato’s found a community they could truly belong to.
It is very hard to capture Tada Sato if you did not know him. He had a naughty yet harmless sense of humor. The joy of experiencing his humor was not that his jokes were necessarily of such cleverness that they became unforgettable. The joy was seeing him enjoy the exercise of living and in seeing him observe, dryly yet with a twinkle in his eye, the beauty and oddness of an often hapless humanity. You knew a joke was coming, but it was more the acknowledgment of the humorousness of life than the actual joke that was enjoyable. This does not mean he didn’t see the darkness of humanity. He went to Europe as a soldier. He preferred not to talk about what he experienced there, wishing instead to accentuate the positive and the brighter side of life.
In a way Dr. Sato was a lucky man. He would be the first to acknowledge that. Protestants and Mormons have an uneasy relationship, but he grew up among Mormons in Utah and really liked them. Because he did not live in a West Coast state he was spared the cruel camps of the war. Then there was Jane. He admitted how lucky he was to have her and how she made marriage easy and a joyful team effort. Jane, steeled by the cruelty of loss and betrayal of the War cared for him with great dedication and purpose. She helped him serve his patients. The pain of people he served weighed heavily on him and some of his experiences as an able pediatrician and chief pediatrician at Kaiser in Southern California were unforgettable.
Tada and Jane were generous and hospitable. They invited people constantly and visited them in the hospital. Tada was the one who took me to the doctor when I threw out my back on the tennis court. He was the one we took one of our sons to for advice on an injury. He was the one who drove me to session meetings for years (he was a very good driver). He always came in his suit and tie and never missed a Sunday when he was in town. He took church seriously without being pious. He also had the maturity to understand that ministers are fragile human beings like everybody else and need to be cared for also.
What perhaps made Tada so unusual is the integration of his genuine compassion and caring and appreciation for people (which he could express quite openly and succinctly) with his relativizing perspective on bumbling humanity which included him. It allowed him to be close and at a distance. It allowed him to be engaged without meddling. It is something we can all aspire to. He will be greatly missed. May God bless his memory. Aart