Sunday, October 4, 2009

Cousins and More Cousins

Saturday. The Daughters of Hawai'i held one of their annual fund raisers today, a small, high-end craft fair with lots of food and entertainment. The setting, Queen Emma's Summer Palace in Nu'uanu Valley, was beautifully green and lush. The small parking lot was filled with crafters -- jewelry, clothing, hats, tapa, more jewelry, books published by Daughters of Hawaii, jams, jellies, baked goods, tours of the interior of the palace included in the cost of admission. There were t-shirts, haku lei, and Dale's Attic, a "gently used goods" rummage sale, the province of the Regent. Many Daughters -- those taking tickets, acting as hostesses, chairwomen -- chose to wear whites, the "dress uniform" of the organization: white floor- or tea-length mu'umu'u, white shoes, optional white hat. Always with lei -- golden feather lei for Daughters, black kukui for the Calabash Cousins (women who cannot meet the lineage requirement, but want to be part of the organization). They looked particularly gracious as they mingled with the crowd. It was a visual experience; I didn't take a camera.

Because I know Marty through my weekly volunteering with the History Committee, I answered her call for volunteers to work in the gift shop. Among other things, the gift shop carries several items honoring the about-to-be-sainted Fr. Damien: commemorative medals, books, and prints (by order) of a lovely Peggy Chun portrait of Damien himself. There is some jewelry -- including some glorious gold-and-silver bracelets woven as if they were made from lauhala. They are referred to as the "Donna Cockett bracelets". My ears pricked up. I have Cockett cousins. Could this jeweler be married to one of them? In a word, yes! We are admittedly not terribly close cousins. Our grandmothers were cousins, and much of what we know about my grandmother's Hawaiian family comes from Mike Cockett's grandmother. Mike's dad and my mother were Kamehameha School classmates. (Aside: In Hawaii, one of the basic questions you ask someone as you begin to find shared life links is "Where did you go to high school?") We visited their family on Kauai more than a half-century ago. (Wait, wait, are we admitting to aging? I don't think so! Mike and I were not even teen-agers at the time!)

Another look at the program, and I realized another cousin was represented. Dress designer Mamo Howell and I share a great-grandmother. Mamo's fashions were being modeled throughout the day.

Early on in my residency in Tuolumne County I learned that you don't talk folks down -- the person you are speaking to could easily be related to the person you are speaking about. It's like that in Hawai'i, too. With the small population base and several generations of family, it's easy to be related to a lots of people. What always surprises me is that despite our lack of contact over the years, we tend to end up in the same large segments of the community -- in my case, the artists, musicians and wordsmiths. Is it in the genes? Is it cultural? Or is it coincidence?

Give thanks for families, and for friends working together. Give thanks for those who care enough to work for charitable causes. Hug a friend. Don't forget to pray.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your comments remind me that I am not writing into a vaccuum, or simply for personal therapy. Please comment often!