Sunday, May 18, 2008

Aloha and Aloha

It is real and diagnosed. He may have been told a year ago, but either didn't understand or didn't want anyone to know. My father is in early stage dementia. It's not a surprise -- the behaviors are all there -- but it is somehow reassuring to have his doctor say it in so many words. It also alters how Mother deals with him, makes her more tolerant.

Yesterday was the memorial service for my cousin Michael McPherson who died in April at his home in Kamuela. This is the same cousin that I visited in February when on Hawaii with the Waughs from Chicago. It was a beautiful memorial, held at the Unity Church of Hawaii on the slopes of Diamond Head. The opening prayer was given in both English and Hawaiian by a cousin of another of the McPherson lines who also happened to be Taylor McPherson's 3rd grade teacher. Taylor is Michael's only biological niece, and his sole heir. The prayer was followed by brief sharings from some of Michael's close friends: a lifelong friend and surfing buddy, who last surfed with him at Kawaihae just a few weeks before he passed; three friends from his Univeristy of Hawaii - poet - novelist - editor days; and the local judge from Kamuela who described Michael as brilliant as a trial lawyer. "If you as a judge or an opposing attorney did not listen to every word Michael said, as he said it, then you were somehow behind him and in very serious trouble." That's high praise indeed. Each speaker touched on Michael's need to find resolution to conflict, and gave examples of how that drive shaped their own lives. Since his own growing up years were filled with conflict -- between his father and grandfather, between his parents, between himself and his father, likely within Michael himself -- I can see where that drive might have taken root. Also, conflict resolution is a very Hawaiian concept. It is called ho'oponopono, and is one of the fundamentals of Hawaiian medicine. Michael was very much in touch with his Hawaiian heritage.

The service ended with a hula danced by Taylor and one of her friends ... "Where I am there are rainbows ... " and a slide show of photographs of Michael growing up.

I had a very difficult time getting through the service. My tears were only in part for Michael. They were more for my own emptiness at Ray's passing, for going on without him. There is thanksgiving for the wonderful time we had, and regret that we did not have more time together. There is still a huge, empty hole. He and Michael are somewhere else now. They are healthy, active, laughing, caring ...

Look forward. Give thanks. Keep praying ........!

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