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Monday, August 08, 2005

Golden Moments

I wish I knew how to write in the Reader's Digest Condensed Version style so that I could fit the entire week into just a few sentences and you'd get the jist of it. But the truth is, what transpired over the past week was over 40 years in the making, and a few short sentences wouldn't do it justice. For the first time EVER in the history of my family, all 12 of my mother's living children gathered under one roof.

Last year, when I found my birth family, it was more than I could possibly have asked for. The warm aloha that I received, the open arms, the tears of joy, were beyond description. I was the lost sheep returned to the fold. But this year was not about me. It was more about my eldest brother Clifford, whom I had up to this point, not yet met. And it was about my brother Lono and my sister Lokelani, who were also adopted and raised by another family and were returning to Hawai'i to meet these other birth family members that they had yet to meet themselves. Yes, it's confusing and at times convoluted, but the discovery of roots so long sought after, and the ability to look into someone's face and see a warm familiarity is an experience I really never thought I'd be fortunate enough to realize.

Because our eldest brother Clifford was bringing his own family back to Hawai'i to visit, My brother Eddie, the self-proclaimed "Mr. Ohana" (ohana=family) started making calls to all of us who live away from O'ahu. He called my brother Kimo in Seattle, he called my brother Lono in San Diego, He called my brother Bryan in Kaua'i, he called Loke, and he called me.

"Wouldn't it be great," he said, "If ALL of Mom's kids got together? It would be the very first time. THAT would be a GREAT event, wouldn't it?"

Before I ever had an opportunity to wonder how I was going to manage a plane ticket or ask Charlie if it was a possiblity, Loke called and said that for her birthday, Lono wanted to pay for her ticket AND mine as well. Lono wasn't going to be able to go because of work obligations, but he wanted Loke and I to "represent" the California wing of the family. The thought of going without him was not one we wanted to face, and despite our best efforts at begging, he just didn't think he could do it. Same with Kimo up in Seattle....just didn't think the boss would let him go. Once Loke and I called Eddie back in Hawai'i, he decided he wasn't taking "no" for an answer from anyone. He was absolutely determined to get everyone there. He had EVERYONE call and leave messages on Lono's machine and he worked him over day after day until Lono finally relented. Once he told his boss what the occasion was, his boss was more than accomodating. As the chain continued, once Kimo learned that Lono was going to be there, he too, went to his own boss and told him what was happening. "It's an Oprah story" said Kimo's boss. Something we've all heard countless times. And indeed, it is. Who could stand in the way of history in the making?

Loke and I left San Diego on Friday and our brother Kimo and his wife Beth met us at the airport. We followed Kimo on a quick family history tour on the Windward side of the island. He showed us our grandparents graves, the 7 acres of beachfront property where once our grandparents home stood and where they all played as children. Back then, a small, simple house of simple means, with no money but plenty aloha. It was like that all week, a brother or a sister filling in stories and gaps that those of us that were hanai'd (adopted) missed. Some sad, some happy, some bittersweet, all of it important in some way. Our brother Eddie and his beautiful wife Petra, the host and hostess without equal, showing us the time of our lives and paying for WAY TOO MANY drinks to get us to sing karaoke at Kainoa's in Haleiwa. I think it was the 3rd Blow Job that got us singing backup on Bohemian Rhapsody.

For me, the trip was just a bonus after the intial meetings last summer. It felt good to be a part of something so phenomenal. But for Lono and Loke, I think this year for them was what I experienced last year; healing. Some painful hurts healed, a spiritual renewal. A rebirth in a whole new way. But then again, whatever they experienced I can only surmise, after all, it was theirs and theirs alone.

Loke, Lono and I found ourselves wishing that we had more time, at least a full day with every brother and sister. But with so many siblings, and so little time, that was an impossible feat. We wanted to stay longer, but we were missing our loved ones on the mainland and wishing they were there with us. Next year, we promised, next year for sure.

It does my heart good to be able to say those words and have it mean something not just to me, but to someone else. A family that loves me and can't wait to see me again. The one thing I've desired my whole life.


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