As long as there’s love, the bond between a mother and son can never be broken. Even if they no longer live in the same place or they haven’t seen each other in years, the connection will always be there. But sometimes, mothers will make a tough decision, like giving up their child in the hopes that they’ll have a better life. But what happens to that child who spends most of his life wondering if their mom is out there somewhere? No one understands what that’s like better than Nobue Ouchi of Shizuoka, Japan, and a man named Bruce, who never stopped wondering about each other.They talked about getting married, but the soldier was sent back to South Carolina, where he lived. A few months later he reached out to her but she didn’t trust him and shunned him, but the only problem was, she was pregnant.
However, she knew that raising a biracial child in the small Japanese village she lived in would be very difficult. That’s when she decided to put her son up for adoption. Fortunately, Edward and Eleanor Hollywood were in Japan and they were part of the United States Air Force.
“I always knew I was adopted because I had Asian features and my father was an Irishman and my mother was a Norwegian lady,” explained Bruce. Bruce grew up knowing that he was a very special individual in the eyes of his adoptive parents.
He hoped to return to Japan to find his birth mother. His adoptive parents told him that his mother’s name was Nobue and they even offered to pay to send him to Japan so he could continue his search for her, but he decided that this just wasn’t in the cards for him.
While in the ambulance on the way to Walter Reed Army Hospital, Bruce thought about his mom. He was filled with regret about not finding her. He wanted to thank her because her difficult choice gave him a wonderful life. “I lived the best life ever. I’m a colonel in the United States Air Force. I’ve got beautiful children. Life is really good,” Bruce imagined telling his mother. After he recovered, Bruce sent all that he knew about Nobue to the Japanese Embassy.
Just as he had given up, Bruce was sitting at a wine bar at the Dulles International Airport with another military man named Admiral Harry Harris. Bruce told him he wanted to find his birth mom, and Bruce offered to help. Ten days later, Bruce was proven wrong when his phone rang.
“‘Colonel Hollywood we’re really pleased to tell you that we found your mother, Nobue Ouchi,'” Bruce recalled. “And I said, ‘Oh my gosh, this is wonderful. You’ve got to help me start writing this letter. And I want it to be accurate, and I want it to be culturally sensitive. And you’ve got to help me.’ ” The caller said, “There’s not going to be a letter. She’s going to call you at this phone number in 10 minutes, and she doesn’t speak English. Good luck!”
Moments later, his mother called. She was sobbing. Bruce told her how grateful he is, then he heard her speak, ” I’m sorry. I don’t speak English.” Bruce listened to the interpreter and his mother talking. All he could hear was crying and talking. He recalled, “And I said, ‘Stop, stop, stop. You’ve got to tell me what’s going on.'”
She explained that his mother never married, “because she said in her heart there was only room for one man. And it was you, and she knew you would be back.” Then the translator told Bruce something he could hardly believe. His mother owned a restaurant and bar named Bruce. It turns out that Bruce’s adoptive mother had given Nobue a photo of Bruce long ago along with the name they had given him. That’s how Nobue knew to name her restaurant after him.
He was back in his village and found the restaurant, which was named after him. That’s when he was able to meet Nobue, the woman who gave birth to him. Over the years, Bruce returned to Japan frequently to visit Nobue.
She decided to learn English, while he started learning Japanese. He also managed to meet his extended Japanese family, and it was a large group too. Unfortunately, Nobue passed away three years after she and Bruce found each other, but he felt that this brought him closer to his Japanese heritage.
He continues to live the life he’s always led with his wife, Megan, and the family he created in Vienna, Virginia. He considers himself blessed, and he always thinks of how grateful he is that his birth mother gave him the opportunity to live this blessed life.