Na Hanau - Birthdays

January 05, 2013  •  2 Comments

Today, January 5th, 2013, would have been my mother's 73rd birthday had she not taken that stairway to heaven 15 years ago. My mother was a force to be reckoned with. People just gravitated to her, and loved her like she was family. When she walked into a room, one could tell she had arrived without ever looking up to see her. I actually think she changed the air in a room with her dignified presence.  

As her youngest of four children, there were many times I felt that she was harder on me than my older siblings. Of course, the older ones thought the reverse was true.  She was a single mother with her hands more than full with four kids and a full time job, yet she found time to devote to civic clubs within the Hawaiian community. She also taught hula to non-Hawaiians who wanted to learn and was a performer herself. She pushed her kids to learn all genres of dance & other performing arts to broaden their perspectives. She taught us Hawaiian arts & crafts, and schooled us in Hawaiian social protocol & language. There was a never-ending river of events to attend. 

Now it wasn't all unicorns & rainbows under our roof, I had to focus on school because no matter how good my grades were, they were never good enough. No matter how many nights a week I practiced hula, I still wasn't hitting the mark. No matter how hard I tried, I wasn't trying hard enough. Yeah, those standards were skyscraper high. I pushed to try to be better than 'the next person,' whomever that may be. And while I was a teenager, I resented the criticisms. By the time I was 18, though, I was on the phone everyday with her. Only when she was traveling did we not speak on the phone. She was my font of good advice, and she was ALWAYS right. When I didn't listen to her advice, and things transpired in the exact manner she predicted, I knew I would never hear the end of it. So I started following her advice as much as possible. 

In November 1997, I called her office for a quick chit chat. She wasn't there. Her colleague answered her line, told me she hadn't seen my mother and to hold because the phone lines were going crazy at the time. I was at work myself and in a hurry, I didn't hold. Late that night, I noticed that my caller ID showed numerous phone calls from her home phone number. I began to worry, and quickly called her back. Her roommate, Michael, answered and informed me as gently as he could that my mother had passed away in her sleep. In an instant, my life changed. For the first time in my life, I was experiencing real emotional pain. I had to become a full-fledged adult - immediately.  

The day of her funeral, dozens and dozens and DOZENS of people filled the church to bid her farewell. She touched so many lives; gave part of herself to each and every one of them. There was music, scripture, recollections, tears and celebration of a life that cultivated mine. The day was perfect, except for one thing. At the end of the celebration, I turned to my brother and said, 'Mom would have loved that gathering!' The tear in his eye told me that he agreed. 

Hau'oli La Hanau, Mom. You took a big piece of my heart with you to heaven, keep it safe for when we meet again. 

 


Comments

Shana(non-registered)
That was a beautiful tribute to your amazing mom!!!
Haili(non-registered)
Yes sister, your mother truly was a "force to be reckoned with". I miss her too and I know your mama is truly proud of you. Imua my friend and sister!

Aloha wau ia oe! xoxoxo
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