In honor of Friendship Day, Keiro will share a series of articles highlighting the many bonds Our Community members have with each other. From friendships formed in the community to those going back to childhood, these relationships have stood the test of time and distance.

“60 something years”

Liz Doomey (75), Michiko Tokunaga Kus (75), and Darlene Randle (77) have been friends for “60 something years.” The friendship began when Liz and Michiko were placed in the same fifth grade class.  They later became friends with Darlene at San Fernando High School. This trio is part of a bigger group of eight to ten childhood friends who have stayed in touch since their days in high school and continue to see one another.

From left to right: Mae Narocki, Liz Doomey, Yvonne, Loretta Gillet, Jeannie Thunell, Darlene Randle, and Michiko Kus

Quality Time

When asked what is your favorite activity that they do together, the response was unanimous. “All we do, is sit, and eat, and talk,” Liz laughed. “One time, eight of us went to Vegas for a reunion and it was crazy because we were all in one room. We didn’t get any sleep – we just talked all night!”

The “full” reunions happen around every five years, due to busy lives with grandchildren.

Darlene, Liz, and Michiko live within a three-mile radius and call whenever they feel the urge to talk to each other, whereas the others live outside of the area.

Liz and Michiko are active members at the San Fernando Valley Japanese Community Center and their church, so they would see each other (pre-pandemic) around three times a week volunteering in the community. They joke with Darlene that they have been trying to get her to come to church, and in their words, they say she’s “lazy,” Darlene laughed and agreed.

Free Spirited, Goofy Fun

Some friendships come and go, but the reasoning for why this group of friends stay together is because they are all similar and they get along very well.  

 “We’re free spirited, and we’re all a little goofy,” Liz said. “You know, we grew up in a different age than the kids nowadays. It seems like we were more free-spirited. We didn’t worry about going out, I mean it was probably happening but we didn’t feel like we were in danger when we went out.”

Circumstances Change, But Friendship Stays the Same

The power of regular phone calls keeps their friendship alive, and the tradition continues even during COVID-19 pandemic. They call and check in with one another, and are even planning a get together when they feel it is safe. “We’ve had some that had illnesses, or their children have had illnesses so it’s rough,” Michiko added.

When they get together, they go back to their high school days. “It just seems like the years just drip away and we’re back to who we were way back when,” Liz said.

“Well we haven’t really changed too much personality wise, maybe Michiko is a little more outspoken but Liz and I have always been outspoken,” Darlene added with a chuckle.

Key to their friendship: Judgement-Free Zone

Their friendship has stood the test of time and hardship by being a judgement-free zone. “We don’t judge one another in a negative way,” Darlene said.

From left to right: Liz Doomey, Mae Narocki, Michiko Kus, Jeannie Thunell, and sitting, Darlene Randle

Liz also noted that there’s a transparency when it comes to the friendship in a way that they know their time is precious with one another. “I think we’re honest, we’re not two faced, we don’t say something behind their back that we won’t say to their face. Sometimes we’re blunt, but we do it because we care about each other. We respect each other. When you get this old and are still friends, it’s pretty special,” Liz said.

“We’re not petty. We don’t worry about the little things, I don’t think we’ve ever had an argument!” Darlene added.

Partners in Crime

Liz, Michiko and Darlene had many admirations of one another. Liz admired Michiko’s dedication to God, and her devotion to donating her time and money to her community. She admired Darlene’s good family foundation, and how she overcame different changes throughout her life. Michiko admired Darlene’s sweet, bubbly personality. Liz was Michiko’s guardian angel one night, and made her get out of the house to have some fun with friends. Ever since then, Michiko’s strict mother let her go with Liz so she could experience all the fun they would have, and Michiko is forever grateful for that moment. Darlene would do anything for sweet Michiko, and calls Liz her “partner in crime”, that also doubles as a fun time with wine as well.

Over the course of the interview, their bond exuded in the stories they shared as a group, and how it has helped them all get through the good and the bad times together.

This Friendship Day, we hope to celebrate friendships that keep our life connected with others and enhance the quality of our daily lives. No matter the length of friendship, being connected and having a support system keeps everyone healthy, and helps both in good and difficult times.

Keiro Challenge

What qualities do you admire the most about your friends? Have you taken the time to let them know? Reach out to your friends, and share your story with us! Let us know how you have maintained your new and old friendships at [email protected].

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