Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Other Reunion

After months planning my own 50th-year-from-graduation reunion, and our celebratory weekend last month, this weekend it was my mother's turn.

Mother graduated from Kamehameha School for Girls in Honolulu in 1931.  That's 80 years ago.  That's before the Kapalama campus was opened.  In her day, the Girls Campus took up most of the makai (towards the ocean) block of King Street between Kalihi St. and Waiakamilo, across the street from the present-day Farrington High School.  She went to Kamehameha in 1925 as a 7th grader and boarding student.  It was a small, close-knit class.  Most remained lifetime friends.  Now there are only two from the class left:  Janet (Hopkins) Richards  in San Diego, and Helen (Yonge) Lind in Honolulu.  They are the oldest surviving graduates of Kamehameha Schools.  

See my brother's post, "Last Woman Standing?" 12 June 2011 for a short video of our mother talking about her experiences as a student at Kamehameha.  

The present-day campus is lovely and large.  It crawls up a high ridge in Kalihi Valley.  On a clear day, the view must be spectacular.  Yesterday, the campus was shrouded in rain clouds.  The Hawaiians say that when it rains, the gods are sending their blessings.  There were a lot of blessings given yesterday -- it poured most of the afternoon.  

I begged, pleaded for, finally demanded, accommodation from the Alumni Office to make it possible for my mother to enjoy the event.  They were quick to agree that we could have a reserved parking spot so she  didn't have far to walk to get where she needed to be.  Only after I asked did they agree that she could be shuttled up to the luau site in a Security Cart.  But they were hard-headed about pictures.  Even though they did not begin food service until 5:30 p.m., there was no way they could move her class photo from 2:30 p.m.  We finally had to call the Alumni office and opt out of the photo.  She simply does not have the stamina to arrive in time for a 2:30 photograph and then hang around until the program is over some time after 7 p.m.  

Enter the host class, Class of 1992.  If you are a 1992 graduate, if you know a 1992 graduate of Kamehameha Schools, if you know someone who knows someone -- let them know they did a masterful job.  The event was beautifully planned and executed.  But what made it special was their attitude.  They couldn't have been more gracious, more accommodating, more caring when dealing with their most senior surviving graduate.  Someone called my mother last Monday morning.  "We want you to have a photo taken," she said.  "Can you come at 4:30?"  Yes, she could do that.  

We arrived at the campus main entrance.  "I'm supposed to tell you we have reserved parking, and you would have someone show us where that is."  The guard waved us up the hill.  "Just follow the road to the top.  Someone will show you when you get there."   OK.  I'd never been on this campus before.  Gotta' trust.

Next guard, 1/2 mile or so up the road:  "Go up there, turn left, and pull in just before the tent."  
Found the tent.  By now it was really raining.  "Just park anywhere in there.  We'll come with the cart to take you up to the tent.   Oh, you need to take pictures?  I don't know if I can get the cart up there, but will do the best I can."  So I left my mother to the solicitous '92-er and trekked off on foot to find the photo venue.  There, a lovely young woman who identified herself as Kanani assured me that the electric cart could get to the front door of the photo room, they were expecting THE Class of '31 graduate, and that she would be next after the current class.  It didn't end up exactly that way, but did work out in a way that pleased my mother, and she did have her picture taken.  Along the way Kanani said, "If she cares enough to come, we'll do what ever we can to make her happy."  

The entire time we were on campus, Mother never went more than a few steps in her walker.  From the photo venue to her table in the tent over Konia Field, from her table back to the car, in the pouring rain, where ever she went she was transported in a little cart, usually with one or two men grinning broadly, listening attentively, treating her as if she were their own grandmother.  Someone brought her a coke while waiting for dinner.  The meals were all served by '92-ers.  They were still serving some of the younger classes when the first of the garbage collection crew appeared with their 30-gal bags.  "Pau? Let me take that for you."  

Mother said several times, almost wistfully, "All these people, and I don't see anyone I know."  This is a relatively new problem for her.  She's always been able to connect with someone in a crowd.  Despite its growth and influx of residents, Honolulu is still, socially, a very small town.  As the only person from your class in attendance, it was inevitable that there would not be many seated at her table.  But someone was there -- Mikihala, class of '36, who was Mother's little sister when Miki entered Kamehameha.  Classes of '41 and '46 were at the table behind us.  Then the school president, Mike Chun, stopped to greet her.  "You worked for the Rentons?" she asked.  "My daughter-in-law is a Renton.  And aren't you related to the Mossmans?"  Yes, his wife is a Mossman.  She a granddaughter of a friend of Mother's.  It wasn't such a group of strangers after all.  

Give thanks for those who practice the Hawaiian custom of honoring our elders, our kupuna.   Give thanks for those from Kamehameha Schools Class of '92 who yesterday treated an aged stranger with such care and consideration. 
Don't forget to pray!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Sophie learns to drive

Before sharing Sophie and her new skill, check out my brother's post for yesterday, June 6, 2011.  Read about the Waikiki Surf Club honoring our father with a Members Only commerative t-shirt.  That's!

Meanwhile ... yesterday was a busy day.  It needed to be.  It was Ray's birthday.  There were lots of ways to remember him....

One was a picnic at the neighborhood beach park with a school chum who moved from Hawaii to Washington, DC where she settled and raised her family.  She's in Hawaii this week with her entire family -- her husband, their two adult children, their spouses, and the lone grandchild, Sophie. Sophie is 3.

After lunch the "middle generation" was off to climb Diamond Head.
There was some concern about Sophie,
who was not expected to appreciate being left behind.  

Mom played with her and her sand toys for a couple of minutes, then disappeared.  Dad moved in and played with the sand toys for a few minutes more.  Tutu -- Sophie's own Tutu -- took over from dad.   When Sophie looked around and couldn't find mom or dad, Tutu explained that they were changing their clothes.  Sophie had some juice and chips, then decided a walk on the beach might be fun.  It was!  

Sophie met Chicha, a Japanese speaker.  Sophie isn't.
There are few language barriers between 3-year-olds
who point, smile, frown, and gesture their way into friendships.
They played in the sand, swam in the ocean,
then learned about Hawii's beach showers.
Great for washing away sand and salty water.
There's no time to miss Mom and Dad
when  you have a friend.

Then Sophie discovered Chicha's toy.  
Chicha hasn't learned to drive yet. 
Sophie mastered the art quickly.  
Shift.  Step on the gas.  Steer.  Well, almost steer.  

Up the hill.

Watch out for the obstacle at the top!  

Fast is good.  

Is someone enjoying herself?

The tears came only when it was time to put away the car
and say good-bye to Chicha.  They lasted about 2 seconds.  

Make a friend.
Be a friend.
Give thanks for a friend. 
Don't forget to pray!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Manoa Heritage Center

Despite the weekend thunder storms and rain, a group from Daughters of Hawaii visited the Manoa Heritage Center on Saturday.   As its name implies, the Heritage Center preserves the history of Manoa Valley.   The site is on property belonging to members of the Cooke family.  The first Cookes in Hawaii were missionaries and educators.  Later generations went into banking, business, education and philanthropy.  

The first part of the morning was a tour of The Big House, Kualii, built 1911-1912 and now on the US National Registry of Historic Places.  Kualii, with its wonderful art collection, is like an extension of the Honolulu Academy of Arts. 

This small section of the living room is typical, 
displaying paintings by some of Hawaii's best known artists.  

Sam and some of the Daughters in the library, filled with books, maps, drawings, and more paintings.

In the dining room, two of a set of etchings depicting Honolulu in 1852.  
In poor condition when the Cookes obtained them, 
the images were sent to Bath, England for restoration.  

While most other rooms in this house reflect other cultures, 
this room cries out "Hawaii!"  
If it were in my house, it would be my sewing room!  
All those windows open to the great outdoors,
and the light is wonderful.
So are the koa chairs in child and adult sizes.  

Outdoors,  we met Ena.

This part of Manoa valley, she told us, sits atop an old lava flow,
giving it a commanding view of the entire valley 
from  the ocean (yes, there is an ocean down there), 

to the ridge at the back of the valley.  

The stone wall in the photo above defines the sacred area, heiau.
The only one of eight built in this valley to survive (after some restoration),
this heiau is estimated to be at least 1000 years old,
possibly pre-dating Polynesian presence in Hawaii.
The heiau is said to have been built by the Menehune, 
Hawaii's equivalent of the Irish Leprechaun.  
Some believe they were the indigenous race found here when the Polynesians arrived.  

Hawaiian dry stone walls, Ena told us, 
are uniquely designed to withstand earth movement. 
The larger stones form an exterior frame which is then filled with smaller stones.
When the earth quakes, the small stones slip into empty spaces, 
locking the larger stones into place.  

The gardens, like our islands, are filled with endemic plants.
This white hibiscus is one of them.

We gave thanks for the sunny weather during our tour.
Give thanks for something beautiful in your life. 
Don't forget to pray!  

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Hugs for Bobbie

Bobbie is one of those high school classmates I re-connected with at our recent reunion.

We were not particularly close in high school, but I wasn't particularly close to most of my classmates while in high school.  My social life, such as it was, seemed to center on church activities and with the few classmates who lived at this end of the island.

Maybe we're both just a little shy about stepping into new social scenes.  I count doing things with people I didn't know particularly well then and haven't seen in all those years as "new social scenes".

Bobbie signed on for our reunion quite close to the weekend.  Because of circumstances which were not her fault and totally out of her control, those of us who were counting noses and seats on buses didn't get the word until May Day.

The memory books were due at the printer that week.  Bobbie wasn't responding to emails.  Adding another head to the meal count wasn't a problem.  Getting a biography and photograph was.

I am not a telephone fan ... at least not someone who picks up a telephone and goes exploring.  Call someone I know?  Maybe.  Call someone I don't know?  OK, as long as I have business to conduct.  Cold calling a classmate to ask for bio information?  No way.  Well, almost no way.  If I'm backed into a corner.  Was.  Turns out she has an email account, but no computer. She'd looked at the snail mail announcement, then put it in one of those safe places you usually find about 6 months after the event.

Bobbie was determined she wasn't going to put anyone out on her behalf.  I was equally determined to have something on her page in our memory book.  To not have her in our list of people who didn't care enough to respond.  It was, after all, important that everyone who attended be included in the memory book.  It was part of the job.

I called.  We talked.  She brought me a photo.  The memory book got printed.  Bobbie was included.  She had a wonderful time at the reunion.

Bobbie, too, is a caretaker.  She's doing it alone, without siblings to support her.  Her mother has memory issues, which I've not had to face with my own mother.  She gets a week of respite each month when her mother "takes a vacation" in a full care facility.  But she is tired.  Understandably so.  She is experiencing some of the same uncharacteristic (for us) behaviors that I'm experiencing.  She blames them on being tired.  I call them depression.  Whatever the cause, it's comforting to know that someone else in similar circumstances is dealing with -- or not dealing with -- similar issues.

Bobbie stopped to see me today at the Queen Emma Summer Palace.  She brought an assortment of consumable gifts -- and a small journal.  "Journaling is important, you know." she told me.  She's right.  We talked.  I showed her how to find our reunion photos on Shutterfly.  We talked some more.   We decided to have lunch some day, and to do the Honolulu Zoo with cameras.  We looked at some of the flowers on the Queen Emma Summer Palace grounds.  We talked more.

I suspect we will become a mini-support group, and friends.

Give thanks for friends, friends you can help, friends who can help you.
Don't forget to pray ....