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HARUKO--Spring Child, All-Season Mother
If Life is Like a Box of Chocolates...
If life is like a box of chocolates, then without a doubt, my mother keeps my siblings and me and her long line of descendants amply supplied.
And not just any kind of chocolates, mind you, but concoctions born and bred in the Paradise State and wedded to macadamia delights.
Every year, without fail, she sends her firstborn son--long ago transplanted to the southeast corner of the Evergreen State by choice and circumstance--and his family a box of Mauna Loa Chocolate-Covered Macadamia Nuts.
She'd deliver the gift in person if she could. 'Cause that's the way she is.
And to just about anyone who's extended hospitality and kindness to her six children, eleven grandchildren, and fifteen great-grandchildren (with number sixteen due to arrive in July, 2013), she's given, figuratively if not literally, a box of chocolates. 'Cause that's the way she is.
My mother's first name is Marion. A lovely name, to be sure.
But it was her Okinawan middle name, falling gently on my ears like the sweet and salty Hawaiian rain in the 1950s and 1960s, that I fondly recall.
Child of the spring.
My tall, strapping Hawaiian-Filipino father endearingly called her, H. But I preferred the sing-song articulation of her full name with the accent on the second syllable.
In all my years, I never knew or heard of anyone with that name.
Not until last year, when I joined HubPages and saw featured videos of HP administrator, Simone Haruko Smith. I reveled in seeing that familiar word, so much so that I sent a note to Ms. Smith informing her that my mother shared the same name.
Silly, I know.
But I was so moved, jolted into fond reminiscence (because our busy lives and insignificant preoccupations need a spontaneous jolting every now and then) of tender, simple, small kid days. It seemed only fitting at the time to share my joy and connect with another human being.
Because that's what my mother was all about. And it's that pure joy and desire to connect with others that she passed on to me. It's what I hopefully bring to the table in my writing and sharing. More than anything, it's a legacy that I hold onto dearly.
It was that essence of aloha spirit that my mother kissed into every box of chocolate-covered macadamia nuts. Just like she kissed it into the hearts of each of her six children.
"Give Me a Ticket for an Airplane!"
Tourist in Kona; Kama'aina in Hilo
Mom With 3rd and 4th Generations
Mom's a Faithful Sports Fan
Thanks for Making the Long Trip Over from Maryland!
Big Island Reunion
Late last summer, I received an email from my sister on Kaua'i.
Essentially, it was an invitation to a family reunion on the Big Island in honor of Mom's 80th birthday. Mom's worked hard all of her life, and even as she was closing in on the end of her octogenarian decade, she was still serving her ohana by cooking meals and taking care of the great-grandchildren. So a trip to the Big Island would be a nice break for her. While Mom would have liked to have gone to Las Vegas to fraternize with the slot machines, my sister persuaded her to go to Hilo instead. (I never knew my mom had a penchant for gambling. She must have quite a bucket list stashed somewhere.)
Naturally, I was stoked! I wouldn't miss Mom's 80th birthday for the world! In addition, I would also be able to see my other sister, whom I hadn't seen for the last 15 years, along with her husband, two daughters, and their significant others and children that I had never met.
Thanks to Alaska Airlines miles that were about to expire and the purchase of miles from my wife's account to make up the difference, I was able to book a round trip at a reasonable cost. Unfortunately, my wife couldn't get off from work, but she graciously gave me her blessing.
Months later, after the booking dust had settled, the itinerary was simple. On Tuesday, March 19th, I would fly directly from Seattle to Kona where the Kaua'i troop, having arrived earlier, would pick me up. Mom would fly from Lihu'e, Kaua'i, to Hilo where she would spend a few days with Jan and her family. On Friday, the rest of us would drive across the island to join the ohana in Hilo.
Simple enough, right?
Well, surprise, surprise! When my father and his wife heard about the reunion, they decided to make the long trip from Maryland to join us. Naturally, I was very happy to hear that I would be seeing both parents. When was the last time THIS had occurred?
YAY! I'm going to Hawai'i! It's all about good times and the making of fabulous memories!
Getting Ready for Vegas, Mom?
80th Birthday Tribute
My Favorite Dish That Mom Cooked
Sweet Memories of Mom
From the time I was a toddler to the present, these are some of the things I recall, love, and appreciate about my mother ~
- Singing songs with me such as Jesus Loves Me; How Much is That Doggy in the Window?; and The Eensy Weensy Spider;
- Hearing Dad and Mom sing, The Little Brown Church in the Vale, in perfect harmony;
- Teaching me at the age of 4 to hook fish from the rocks and to have fun in friendly competition with her;
- Making chocolate pudding pies and letting me lick the spoon;
- Cooking my favorite dish, Chicken Hekka;
- Taking me to school on my first day in kindergarten;
- Always being kind to family, friends, neighbors, and strangers;
- Ever vigilant of her children;
- Faithful fan at public events (athletic games, scholastic programs, and extracurricular activities) and stalwart support at home for her children;
- Sewing leis from flowers Dad had grown and selling those floral garlands to supplement the family income;
- Shelling opihi and cleaning limu for family consumption as well as to sell commercially;
- Comforting me at the age of 14 when I experienced my first rejection from a girl--in allusion to my small kid days when we'd compete in hooking fish from the rocks, Mom consoled me by saying, "Don't be sad...there's lots of fish in the sea!"
- Doing other people's laundry and cleaning houses for added income;
- Working at the shoe department of Lihu'e Store;
- Working at Coco Palms Hotel as a gift shop salesclerk and eventually working her way up to a supervisory position;
- Raising six children (especially challenging after she and Dad sadly split up);
- Having her heart broken so many times because of poor choices some of her children--chiefly,yours truly--were making, yet never giving up or turning her back on them;
- Rejoicing when the wayward ones regained their senses and self-respect and followed the re-routing of God's GPS;
- Celebrating each child's marriage and grieving over marital breakups;
- Celebrating each grandchild's arrival into the world;
- Raising two granddaughters;
- Helping in the care of great-grandchildren;
- Cooking for ohana;
- Maintaining faithful communication and connection with her loved ones;
- In a soft-spoken, humble, and behind the scenes manner, being a blessing and an asset to her island community.
This is, of course, a passing glimpse of Mom's life, a panoramic and multi-faceted one that has left a lasting and powerful mark on her peers, proteges, and descendants. In short, the legacy of Haruko has left an indelible impression on the island of Kaua'i and beyond.
I am proud and honored and so very, very thankful to be her son.
Hauoli la hanau, Mom! Aloha nui loa!