When former Deputy Division Chief Bruce Hollywood suffered a near-fatal heart attack, two fears were all he could think about. Not only was Hollywood worried about his son’s college applications, but he found himself thinking about his birth mother. Because what Hollywood always knew, was that he was born to a Japanese mother and given up for adoption in 1960.
“I always knew I was adopted because I had Asian features and (my father) was an Irishman and (my mother) was a Norwegian lady,” said Hollywood, 57. “And they always told me, ‘.We picked you out special. So you’re even more special than everyone else.'”
Hollywood’s origins were always on his mind. But he tried to live the best life he could and push that regret behind him. But after the heart attack, he realized that he wouldn’t be truly happy unless he found some way to reconnect.
But it wasn’t going to be easy.
Hollywood’s Search Begins
All Hollywood knew was that his birth father was a Caucasian male who likely was part of the military. He had been given a slip of paper with the name “Lois Bazal” on it. It wasn’t a lot to go on, but it gave him a start.
He contacted the Japanese Embassy, private detectives, and every official he could think of. Despite his efforts, he couldn’t find any trace of his mother. Even thought it hurt to say it, Hollywood finally gave up.
For most men, this would be the end of the story. But Hollywood’s search for his birth family didn’t stop there.
A Lucky Break for Hollywood
Hollywood told the Seattle Times about attending a military conference in Germany a few months later. Hollywood arrived at the airport early, so he sat down at a wine bar and met up with Admiral Harry Harris. After a few drinks, the men started sharing stories.
Harris had a Japanese mother, so he connected with Hollywood’s story. Whether Harris understood Hollywood’s regrets or wanted to lend a hand to a fellow servicemen, he chose to lend a hand. Harris simply said:
“Bruce, I can help you”
Hollywood had his doubts. What could one man do that a private detective and two embassies could not? But Harris convinced Hollywood to trust him, so Bruce gave him all the information he could.
Bruce’s trust would be rewarded only ten days later.
The Phone Call that Changed Everything
Hollywood was going about a standard day and didn’t think he’d hear back from Harris when the Japanese Embassy gave him a call. Hollywood talks more about the conversation in an interview with The Washington Post. The person on the other end of the line gave him news that would change his life forever.
“‘Colonel Hollywood, we’re really pleased to tell you that we found your mother… She’s going to call you at this phone number in 10 minutes, and she doesn’t speak English. Good luck!’”
Hollywood couldn’t believe his luck. Harris had done in 10 days, what he thought no one could have done, and he felt great!
He rushed to find an interpreter in a hurry just in time to speak with his mother, Nobue Ouchi, for the first time. He remembers how he was so happy that he rambled on and on, until Ouchi told him that she couldn’t speak English. The rest of the conversation went through the interpreter where, she told him how important it was to reunite with her son.
Bruce and his mother finally reconnected after so many years. It was a happy tearful reunion, that ended up with Ouchi confessing that all she wanted for her upcoming 65th birthday, was to see him.
He was more than happy to do what he could to fulfill her wish.
Three Wonderful Years
That moment spurred a warm relationship that lasted for three years, until Ouchi passed away. During that time, Hollywood learned a lot about his mother.
He discovered that she gave him the name Bruce. She owned a restaurant and named the bar “Bruce” after him. Ouchi also admitted that she never married, because the only man in her life was her son, and she always knew that he’d come back to her. Bruce even learned that he had an older brother who welcomed him warmly.
When Bruce Hollywood survived a heart attack, he took it as a second chance to discover his origins. His search was rewarded with finding his birth mother and a family history he never knew he had.
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