Friday, November 12, 2010
A Tribute to a Waterman
I knew the Malia was coming. The Malia, 60+ year old koa canoe, the first Waikiki Surf Club canoe to make the annual 41-mile race across the Ka'iwi Channel between Moloka'i and Oahu, the club's pride, the beauty who seldom now is used because she so precious. Just having the Malia present was a special honor.
I didn't know that there would be four canoes, three with a full complement of club paddlers, three club paddlers on the Malia and seats for those who would carry and spread the ashes. They were magnificent, those canoes in the red and gold of the club my dad was instrumental in founding, setting off the distinctive koa hull of the Malia, trimmed in red, paddlers in their team shirts of gold and red.
I knew that the NaDu K2, the 27-foot fishing boat my dad owned for 40 years, would be one of the escorts, courtesy of the Waikiki Yacht Club. I knew that the Waikiki Surft Club would bring their own escort boat. I didn't know that Pat, who often fished with my dad, would be there with his own boat, the True Grit, and several other men who fished with them over the years.
The little fleet of a dozen or so tiny sailboats in the harbor the channel may or may not have been a planned part of the parade, but they waited as we passed, led by the Malia, then joined us out through the channel, beyond the surfing lanes, where the canoes formed a circle. The rest circled around the canoes.
Both my children, my parents' only grandchildren, were here to honor their grandfather. They were in the Malia, as was our half-sister, Jackie. Together they shared the task of spreading the ashes. Then came the flowers. So many flowers in so many colors, all loose to protect the ocean environment and to honor a man who loved this ocean. The canoes made one more pass, then headed back to shore. The power boats circled twice, then followed the canoes back to the harbor.
There must have been about 40 folk in addition to the paddlers who came to honor and bid farewell to this man who had touched their lives. There were neighbors, past and present. There were fishing buddies and business associates. Dennis flew in from Southern California for the day. Christie came from Seattle, also for the day. There were a handful of surfing legends present, folk who and worked with my dad in building the Waikiki Surf Club. Mark, the surfing historian and surf board collector, came. So did Sandy, the writer, who came to know my dad as she was writing a biography of Duke Kahanamoku. Cousins from my mother's side of the family were there. So were close friends of my brother and sister-in-law, and some of my own friends from Daughters of Hawaii. There was a generous buffet table and beverages courtesy of the Waikiki Yacht Club, and an open bar.
When my father went into nursing care, he transitioned over to an MD who routinely visits the nursing homes in Honolulu. As it happens, he lives next door to one of my co-volunteers at Daughters of Hawaii. I've occasionally laughed and said to Pili, "If I have trouble reaching the doc, I'll just ask you to go next door and leave a note on his front door!" I was touched when Pili offered a box of flowers from her own garden. "The orchids are courtesy of Dr. Johnson's garden." her note told us. I had to smile.
One more time. Good-bye, Daddy. Be at peace.