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Friday, July 16, 2004

Honolulu City Lights
"Looking out upon the city lights and the stars above the ocean,
  Got my ticket for the midnight plane, and it's not easy to leave again.
  Took my clothes and put them in the bag, try not to think just yet of leaving.
  Looking out into the city night, it's not easy to leave again.
  Each time Honolulu City Lights, stirs up memories in me.
  Each time Honolulu City Lights, will bring me back again.
  You are my island sunset, and you are my island dream......." 
  Keola Beamer
I've known and loved this song from the very first time I heard it in the late 70's.  As Keola says, "Music touches the heart, but we often forget that it has the power to transcend time."  I put the words here, because I couldn't think of lyrics more fitting to express how I feel right now.  I wish that somehow you could hear this song, because I know it would touch your soul with the emotions that I feel, that seem, for me, indescribable.
First, I want to tell you, friends of my heart in the blogdom, how grateful I am to have you to lean on, cry to, and even bitch to, as I have in the past.  I have felt your sincere care and support as I've embarked on this journey to find my birth family.  You've been awesome and I want you to know how much it means to me to know you're "out there."
Speaking of Out There, Charlie, Averie and I had the extreme good pleasure to meet up with Ron.  Let me just say this about that, my entire trip was full of very wonderful memories, not the least of which was getting to hug this very special man.  We had a little hitch in our getalong as Ron hustled on his little moped to a different hotel with the word "Monarch" in the title, but after some phone tag, I saw him motoring by and yelled out to him as he, in turn, yelled out to me ("Puaaaa where are youuuuuuuu???"), and then, after spotting me,  zoomed right up on the sidewalk!  We walked along the beach and talked, shared last call at "Room Without A Key," a beautiful oceanfront spot at the gorgeous Halekulani, and ended up under a palapa, chatting away while the sky opened on us.  Ron, you are warm, funny, articulate and on this trip I found you in my ohana as well.  It was an honor.  If you ever have need of a local momona "aunty" to sit on someone you no like, you only have to call...yeah?  Thank you for being SO accomodating to change your date to see us.  Your attitude of "If can can, if no can no can" made it very very easy for us.  But there was no friggin way I was going to leave that island without hugging you!  Much aloha to you my friend.
I won't go into every little detail or minute by minute account of the trip.  But I will tell you that from the minute we stepped off the plane in Hawaii, we were embraced with pure aloha.  My brother Eddie and my brother Kimo and their families were there to meet us, leis in hand, and love abounding.  From start to finish, we felt loved and welcomed and I can't tell you how many times I was told, "Pua, we're so glad you had to courage to step out and find us.  You are our ohana (family) and we are yours.  We love you.  Welcome home."
We were on the move constantly, as each one of my brothers and sisters wanted to have the chance to share their homes with us.  Each night, we were at a different sibling's home for dinner, and everyone in the family gathered there.  Charlie and I commented on how they put out the red carpet and even though most everyone had to work, they still did their best to make our experience wonderful.  We were on vacation, but they still had their regular lives to attend to.  Yet, there was never a complaint.  All we ever felt was love.  Since I have brothers and sisters ALL OVER the island, it was no easy process to get everyone to a certain spot at a certain time, but they did it night after night with smiles on their faces.
I didn't have the opportunity to meet my mother and father until the day after we arrived, so that first night, I didn't sleep very well.  Come to think of it, I didn't sleep for a few nights before we left.  Nerves.  Scared.  The morning after our arrival, I was to meet my mother.  My brother Kimo was bringing her to town (Waikiki) for breakfast.  Eddie and his wife Petra were staying at the hotel next door to ours, just for the fun of it.  Kimo and his family, who came in from Seattle, were staying at my sister Ululani's house, so he brought mom to see us.  When I saw her walk in, I started to cry and I walked over to embrace her.  She whispered in my ear..."Aloha my long lost daughter.  I'm your mother and I'm so happy you're here.  I'm so happy you found me." 
She held me, and we cried together.  All through breakfast, she held my hand and she kept apologizing for giving me away.  She said that she hoped I didn't hate her for what she did.  I could tell that this was even more emotional for her than it was for me.  My presence reminded her of regrets.  Of decisions that she made so long ago that she has been wrestling with for so many years.  She had her own demons haunting her.  I put my arm around her and I told her that I didn't hate her and that I had nothing but respect for whatever decision she had to make.  I told her I was grateful that she gave me life.  I told her that she didn't owe me an apology and that I was so happy to finally know her.  Of all the questions I had in my life, they were not questions of "Why did this happen to me?" or "Did they not love me or want me?"  My questions were, "Why am I so different from the family that raised me?"  "Who do I look like?"  "Are there people out there who look and act like me?"  I now had the answers to those questions.  An empty space in my life was now filled with familiar faces looking back at me with my own eyes, and my own smile.
We talked and talked and I tried to spend as much time with her as I could.  She's tiny, and frail, and she tires easily.  I knew that I'd have days ahead to talk with her more and I would take advantage of those times.  Over the course of days, each time I had a chance to sit with Mom, it was she who would first apologize to me.  It could sense it was she that had suffered more than I ever suffered.  She would talk about meeting my adoptive mother and how she had promised that she would keep in touch and send pictures of me growing up, but she never did.  Once I was handed over, my parents took me and disappeared.  The funny thing is that both my adoptive mother and my birth mother were from Hawaii, so here I was growing up on the same island as the rest of my siblings, only not knowing about each other.  In fact, I went to school with my sister's brother-in-law, I had the same favorite bakery as my brother Eddie, my brother Kimo and I both love Zippy's and Shiro's in Waimalu (Hawaii's Denny's).  We may have passed each other so many times in so many places.
This family of mine, my ohana, who I have never known but now know...it's as if we have known each other our whole lives.  The time went fast with so much love and so much laughter.  I felt my heart burst as my kids met their cousins and shared their lives.  I told them I was blessed with Charlie.  He was the one that always encouraged me to find them.  They asked questions about me, about my life.  Where had I been?  What do I care about?  What makes me me?  They asked me to tell the story of how I found them, and the keikis (children) and teenagers gathered around at my table with their parents, my siblings behind them, to hear it.  Their mouths agape, their eyes wide with astonishment, and then the tears would come.  In the end, everyone thanked Charlie for pushing me to continue my search for them.  My mother especially told him how grateful she was to him.  I am too.
To embrace with love seems so small a term but the impact it had on me was overwhelming.  I had a family.  They loved me.  They wanted to know me and they wanted me to be a part of their lives.  I grew up without them, but they let me know that I would never be without them again.  We tried to make up for 40 plus years of lost time in just 7 days.  We laughed, we cried, we loved, and in the process, the distant sadness in the dark corner of my heart went away.  Now, life will never be the same. 
Charlie has often asked me if I ever wanted to move back and live in Hawaii.  I've always told him no.  I had no desire to live there.  There was nothing there for me.  On the night before we left, we sat out on the balcony of our hotel room and he asked me that familiar question.  This time, I said that I could.  My family is there. 


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