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Monday, February 09, 2009


I want to send everyone a warm Mahalo (thank you) for all your kind notes and words of support. I think with all that was going on, I was feeling overwhelmed. I felt the love and took it to heart. It made things easier, and I'm grateful.

I'm home from Hawai'i. I struggled over whether I should go, and now, I'm glad that I did. I know that it helped my family to have an extra set of hands with Mom's care. When I got there, her dementia was pretty bad. Though she did remember me when she saw my face, her behavior was erratic and childlike. They determined that it was because of the meds they were giving her to help facilitate the healing of a nasty open sore on her leg. Once they took her off that particular drug, it lessened the effect, and her confusion was less. Still, she has really good days and really bad days. We never knew from one day to another whether she was going to "be there" mentally or not. Watching your parent go through confusing mood swings with incoherent babble is painful and my heart hurts for the rest of my family who are there on a daily basis. Yet, I found a great deal of comfort in the fact that they are there. Most elderly patients had NO visitors, no family members to come and see after their care. In that respect, my mom is very fortunate. She just doesn't know it.

I got there on Saturday, and by Wednesday, she was well enough to be moved from the hospital in downtown Honolulu to a long-term care facility closer to the north side of the island where most of my family lives. I know that making that long drive two and three times a day was hard on them. The traffic into town is HORRIBLE. My two sisters who are Mom's primary caregivers are exhausted and missed so much work in the last month to look after Mom, so they were grateful that I was there. It gave them an opportunity to catch up on their work, which made their employer's happy. Mom didn't have to be alone as I could be with her in the day. The days were long, and I never really saw much of "home" because I was at the hospital all day until visiting hours were over at 8 or 9 pm.

I have no pictures, I never made it to my favorite places. In fact, the one morning I did try to get over to Waimea to get wave pics for Bryson, I only made it as far as Haleiwa before my brother called me and asked if I could get back to the hospital to be with Mom because he was leaving. So, I grabbed a quick bite at my favorite shrimp truck in Haleiwa before getting back. A NOTE FOR TUNA GIRL....Please make sure that you go to Giovanni's shrimp truck in Haleiwa on the north shore of O'ahu. Of all the "famous" shrimp trucks there, Giovanni's is the BOMB. You won't be disappointed.

I had been preparing Mom for my departure for a couple days before I left. Promising her that I would be back soon with the rest of the family. It was hard leaving. As I walked down the hall after saying goodbye, I could feel the tears welling up. My siblings are awesome, and knowing that I never got a chance to go shopping for things to take home, my sisters and brothers made sure they picked up my kids favorite snacks for me to take with me; fresh mochi and spicy ika (cuttlefish) for Caris, Li Hing candies and arare crunch for Bryson, and the best brownies in the world from Kilani Bakery for Averie. Usually, I take home a cooler full of poi, lau lau, and kalua pork...but this time, there was just not the luxury of time. Still, they loaded me down with nearly 20 pounds of local snacks. I had to go buy an extra bag to carry it all. My shoulder has bruises from the bag handle, but from the look on the kids faces when I got home with goodies from their aunties and uncles, it was well worth it.

It is always so hard to leave home; my Hawai'i, my family. It's especially hard this time because I don't know how long Mom will be around. I wish I were closer so that I could help. I can see the strain on my sister's faces. I can see the exhaustion. It makes the feelings I had before I left California seem so selfish and small. There are bigger issues at hand for them. I remember how hard it was for us when Charlie's mom was ill for so long and we were her primary care. Still, I am so grateful for their loving care of Mom and their generosity when they say they are grateful for the help that those of us here on the mainland can provide when we can.

I'm planning on going home again in the summer as soon as the kids have a break. Until then, I will keep good thoughts that Mom will get stronger and we will all see her again. I'm praying that the next time the ohana (family) gathers, it will be a happy homecoming and there will be laughter. God knows, they could use it.