According to Japanese cultural tradition, cranes represent hope, good health, recovery and long life. Legend has it that 1,000 folded cranes, one for each year of the bird’s fabled life, make a wish come true.
After Margaret Abe lost her young son Kent to a tragic traffic accident in 1981, she began to think about how cranes might bring hope and happiness to patients who leave El Camino Hospital after experiencing a life changing illness or procedure. Nearly three decades later she was able to implement her idea with help from friends and support from El Camino Hospital Foundation.
Over the past two years, Margaret has presented nearly 1,000 colorful origami cranes to El Camino Hospital for Auxilians to give to patients as they are being discharged. The tiny birds are delicately folded by her friend, Phyllis Sawamura. Margaret then lovingly attaches them to printed cards that explain the crane’s significance and convey wishes for good health and happiness. “It gives me great pleasure to give patients something to take home that provides comfort and hope for the future,” she says.
The crane project is the latest of Margaret’s many contributions to El Camino Hospital and the Foundation. She was an early member of the Foundation’s board of directors and she and her late husband Ted co-chaired the hospital’s Max 25th anniversary ball.
After Kent died, Margaret found solace with fellow Foundation board member Betty Lohman, who sadly lost a young son the same year. The two mothers’ determination to keep the memories of their sons alive led to the creation of El Camino Hospital’s Meditation Garden, a living tribute to their sons that provides hope and healing to others.