Saturday, August 28, 2010. It was the wake-up call you NEVER want to hear. It was 7:20 a.m. in the morning and my cell went off. Too groggy I missed the call but noticed the caller ID was from the hospital. Then the house phone rang. Shell picked up the call and I could hear the shock and surprise in her voice. A few minutes later she hung up, came into the room, woke me up and told me it was Dad on the phone calling from the hospital to say that you’d passed. With those words in a fraction of a second my heart crumbled and my world was forever changed…
You’d been in the hospital for a week battling pneumonia. Maybe I was too optimistic or just plain naive but I honestly thought we’d take you home in a few days time. For a while it seemed things were at least stable if not getting better so I really thought you’d pull through even though Dad (ever the practical one?) was preparing us for the worst. I’d spent part of Friday evening with you after work just as I tried to spend every night I had free with you (I had to teach a few nights) but decided to leave to get some gym time in thinking I’d spend all weekend with you (I’d cleared my schedule). Honestly, knowing you were in the hospital was just stressful for all of us all week and I thought I’d need the “me” time to face another week with you in the hospital. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that night when I left your bedside that it would be the last time I’d ever see you alive again in this lifetime. Had I known that I’d have never left your side that night and would have stayed with you till the very end…I’m only glad Dad didn’t care about hospital rules and showed up bright and early before visiting hours that fateful Saturday morning so you could have one of us with you at your side when you went. I’m glad you were able to hold on till one of us came and appropriately enough (I guess), that person was Dad.
While the sadness of your passing and the void of your physical presence was immense so many great things have happened over the past year for us I can’t help but think that perhaps you’re up there interceding in things on our behalf with the Lord above and sending blessings to us from Heaven? I’m sure you’re all too familiar with what’s happened with us in the first year since you went Home, but indulge me a recap…
The first few days were a daze but a beautiful thing happened as I connected with all the family and friends who knew you. I heard so many stories about you I never knew. Perhaps one of the most positive things that came out of a very crappy situation was the chance we had to reconnect with the extended ‘ohana who over time we did drift apart from as life tends to lead us. Over the past year we had a chance to reconnect a lot with the Hilo gang which is something I know you always wanted for us having grown up here and not there. Back at Thanksgiving as you know we went home to Hilo for the family reunion and we took you home to Grandma and Grandpa. Mike gets to visit you folks every now and then with his new job. Since then our cousins are more a part of our lives now.
We had a chance to see Kevin folks perform their Tahitian drumming back around New Year’s.
A few weeks back Shug through a big party to celebrate Dad’s 81st (and a few other occasions). Our ‘ohana on Dad’s side came out too which was really nice. Just the other week we had a chance to attend the O’ahu Kama reunion with Luana, Fran and Kathy and I had a chance to catch up with Georgette afterwards.
Sadly Jowenna folks had to move away for a few years because Ty got reassigned, but they’re doing well although I’m bummed I didn’t get a chance to see them before they left. Kahi, as you know, finally came home after being a way for a while. We’re hoping he gets to make a fresh new start of things. Hopefully you and Aunty Myrtle can watch out for him and help with whatever guidance he may need as we all want to see him do well.
I sent all of your friends Christmas cards during the Holidays as I know you’d want them to know you hadn’t forgotten about them. Aunty Rita had us over for BBQ Memorial Day weekend which was really nice. She’s still the same. 🙂 Sadly Tata finally passed shortly after the New Year, but I’m sure you and Aunty Margaret were there waiting for him when he arrived.
As for Dad? He’s doing alright. Scrapper till the very end. I kept him company the first few months you were gone and then Shell and I had Rocky and Sasha stay with him for a bit. Nowadays I make it out to see Dad most weekends unless I’m sick or too busy with other stuff (you know how that goes). We even got Dad a new puppy named Pomai for his own when Shell was ready to bring Rocky and Sasha home. I know you’d LOVE Pomai as he reminds me so much of Chico he’s such a loving (if not naughty) boy. We were so sad and worried when Pomai ran away from home for a few months and thought we’d lost him forever. Miracle of miracles though as the Humane Society found him a few weeks back and brought him home. He was gone a full 3 months. I can’t help but think you were there with him wherever he was wandering all that time…With Pomai gone we wound up getting Dad a cute little chihuahua so now he has two dogs to take care of. Sadly, Pomai seems too much for Dad to handle so we may need to find him a new home. If you can help guide us to a good place or a good family that’d be great…
Shell? She’s surviving…as always. She has a ton going on and I worry about her but she hangs in there and survives. Rocky and Sasha help a lot with that.
Biggest thing you know is both Mike and I changed jobs in the past few months. Mike ditched the public sector for the much more lucrative private sector so he’s doing well in that sense. The two boys are getting ever so big and Miller’s starting to talk more so things seem ok with them.
As for me, in a surprising move for myself I left HCC after 15 years and took a job at KCC. It wasn’t something I was looking for or expecting to do but it was too good an opportunity to pass up. Money’s definitely better and career growth potential’s a lot higher so things are looking up. The people and students there are really nice and I’m getting to focus my work on some REALLY cool things. I miss HCC a lot and it’s only been a few weeks but I think I’m in a good place.
As for other things going on with me? 2011’s actually been a REALLY good year for me. Big job promo aside I’ve had a chance to do a TON of traveling. Back in February I went to Indianapolis for a work conference. It was my first time seeing snow (REALLY TRIPPY walking down a snow covered sidewalk) and we had a chance to catch an NBA game in person (shoulda placed a bet in your honor…).
In April I went back to D.C. again for a work conference. Aside from work business, I had a chance to visit with a classmate living in the area and continue my Smithsonian tours. I even bought you a Hope Diamond Replica keychain for your urn 🙂 I had a chance to meet a lot of other great folks in the UH System at both conferences and learned a lot of good stuff I’ve been using to help improve our education system.
In July I had a chance to visit Boulder for work training. That city is SOOOOOO nice I think you’d have liked it it’s so green and beautiful. Aside from work business I had a chance to do a surprise visit with a friend from dance class who also happened to be visiting Boulder at the same time (freak coincidence!).
I learned A LOT of great stuff on that trip which will be really useful in the future.
One thing about traveling so much by myself though? Sitting in my hotel room at night or taking in the occasional meal alone REALLY made me think about you a lot as I know you traveled a lot without us sometimes. Those lonely nights in the hotel missing Shell and the dogs were a little bit better as thinking about you I can’t help but think just maybe you were keeping me company just as perhaps you were thinking of us when you had to travel without us.
Back in November Shell and I did do our Vegas trip we’d originally had planned the week we lost you. I know you LOVED Vegas. I was thinking of taking some of your ashes to spread there as I thought it’d be something you may have wanted. Maybe some other time. We had a great time and saw a few shows and we did a few pulls for you.
Back in June Shell and I vacationed in Orlando and got a chance to visit Disney World and Universal Studios. I know Orlando is one of the union trips we didn’t get to go with you on (I still have the sweater in my closest at home) so it was nice to see this place and I DEFINITELY thought of you a lot on this trip. It was Shell’s birthday and we had a total blast doing a lot of cool things at the Happiest Place on Earth 🙂 I even got to attend my very first wrestling PPV and TV taping!
I’m still taking classes in school as you know. Last Fall I finished up a grad certificate in ETEC to supplement my Masters. In the Spring I took a few classes in Public Administration to try the program out while contemplating applying to their Masters program. I did in fact enjoy the classes and did successfully apply to and got admitted to the PUBA Masters program so that’s what I’m currently doing now.
Over the Summer I took a few classes in Peace Studies from Kahu Patterson. My friend Judy took a bunch of his classes and had a lot of great things to say about him and the program. Back when I was off of work staying with Dad the first month you were gone Dad and I saw him on TV being interviewed about his program and classes and it definitely piqued my interest. I spent the whole summer taking his classes and working with him. He’s a cool guy and someone I consider a good friend now. I plan to get a Peace Studies grad certificate to complement my PUBA Masters. I let Dad read my textbooks for fun and he seemed to like them. Interesting stuff!
As for me and my wacky hobbies? Nothing’s really changed. I put improv on the side temporarily after you got sick as the practice schedules were horrendous. I didn’t pick back up on it as I felt the need to focus more on my physical health so I’ve been focusing heavily on my martial arts and dance training. I performed a kung fu demo for Chinese New Year again with my kwoon brothers and sisters. I had a chance to do two numbers this year in addition to the one you saw the previous year. Over the past year I had a chance to learn 2 more hand sets, a new staff set, a fan set and a sword set. Recently I connected up with an old high school friend and started doing kendo. I haven’t had as much time to dedicate to it as I’d like, but it sure is fun 🙂
As for the dance hobby? Toby and I tried out hip hop and I tried out contemporary dance for a bit. Both were fun and I learned some cool stuff but the time commitment wasn’t sustainable for us so I gave up on it. I have been sticking with the ecstatic dance though and I continue to meet some REALLY cool people through it.
Looking forward? A friend from work and I are looking at trying out Bikram Yoga and a few friends and I are looking at giving Parkour a try. Parkour looks like SOOOOO much fun. Shell and I enjoy watching it on TV and on the Internet. Watch over me so I don’t break a leg or my neck…
Given timing I may or may not pick back up on karate again. I know my health is nowhere near where it should be. A lot of friends are telling me to take care of my health so it’s definitely a sign, right? So hopefully it’s something I can get squared away. I’m not objecting to a chance to see you sooner but I know I have a ton of things I need to do here before I have my chance to get called Home with you. I’m really excited about what the future holds for me with the new job opportunity, the new hobbies and all the cool new people I keep meeting. I’m just sad you’re not here to see these things with me in person or that I can’t tell you about them on the phone or on weekends, but I think you have way more understanding now about the things I do then I could have explained in person.
Overall, I just want you to know we’re doing ok. We love and miss you always, but, speaking for myself anyway, I’m doing alright. I still wish when I pull up at home you’d be there on the couch with Dad waiting for me instead of your portrait and urn on the wall, but aside from that, life’s been really good. My career’s taking off, I’m learning tons of great new stuff, I continue to meet awesome people and have awesome experiences. For that I feel very fortunate and blessed. The one thing I learned most from you was the need to enjoy life and the people you meet in it and amidst all the chaos and daily pressures of making a living, I think, finally, after all these years I’ve managed to find the balance of remembering to live while living.
Love ya Ma…