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Friday, March 27, 2009

Aloha 'Oe

I'm home in Hawai'i with my 'ohana to celebrate my mom's life. I'll be back in Cali on Tuesday. I'm sure I'll have much to share. All my aloha to all of you until then.

Monday, March 23, 2009

"Paddle me out, boys."

My dear friend Nancy's dad passed away last year. There just isn't enough room here to tell you what an amazing man he was. I will just say that Nancy always called him her best friend.

Nancy's three boys and my three kids are the same age. They grew up together. Much of that growing up took place at Nancy's dad's home in Mexico. Nancy and her then husband Patrick, Charlie and myself and our broods would take weekends, spring breaks, and any time we could, and her dad would let us use his little casita on the beach. Those times got less and less as the offspring grew and schedules got busy, but they remain good and happy memories over lots of years.

When I was depressed after losing my dads, Nancy would say; "Let's go to Mexico and spend the weekend with my best friend." And we would. When the kids were driving us nuts and we needed to run away, Nancy would say; "Let's go to Mexico and see my best friend." And we would. When Charlie got laid off, when Caris turned 16, when Averie graduated, when the Grommet scored his first hockey goal, anything and everything, we'd go to Mexico and see Nancy's best friend.

Early last year, after her divorce, Nan and I took a little 3-day cruise. One of the port stops was Ensenada. When Nancy's dad found out, he told us; "Listen girls, I'm gonna drive down and meet you and then we're gonna paint the town red." When we got to port, there he was, waving happily. Paint the town we did. I'm pretty sure that no one else on that boat had the kind of fun we did. He knew that area back and forth, every bar, every restaurant, every road. Though a gringo through and through, his Spanish was impeccable, and he took great pride in introducing us around as "Mis hijas hermosas"; my beautiful daughters. He bought us lunch, got us drunk, and at the end of the day, delivered us safely back to the ship, where he kissed us adios and said "See ya Girls. Have fun!"

When he passed away in September, I hurt as I watched my friend hurt. Yet Nancy, like her strong-willed dad, knew there was work to be done, and she did it. She didn't have time to grieve and she knew her dad wouldn't stand for it. When I asked her what kind of arrangements she was making she told me that her dad had been very specific. "Nan, I want NO blubbering, and no fuss. Cremate me, wait for good weather, and take my ashes back to Mexico. Tell my grandsons to paddle me out, let me blow away in the wind and tide, take a shot in my honor, and then when it's all done, tell the three of them to sit on the beach together and have a beer and talk about the great times we've had."

This weekend, that's exactly what happened. Nancy's three boys, the Grommet, and friends of Ken's, surfers from age 19 to 77, paddled out in that beautiful Mexican surf that Ken loved so much and we all said Adios and Vaya con Dios. Then, while the rest of us went up to the house, his grandsons did just as he wished and had that beer on the beach with Grandpa. I know everything was just as he wished and he was smiling down.

The surfers gather for Ken.

Nan's youngest son Kyle, and the Grommet. Buds for life.

Nan, her three boys, and the boys' dad.

Nan and a quiet, last moment with her dad.

Nan's eldest son, Branden and Grandpa going out in the surf.

"Tell my boys to paddle me out."

"Let me blow away in the wind and tide."

"Then tell the three of them to sit on the beach together, have a beer, and talk about the great times we've had."

Vaya con Dios Ken. You were a class act all the way.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Speaking of Daughters and Television

The other night, as Charlie, Caris and I were being couch bait and watching telly, our house began to vibrate. Softly at first, and then it grew to nearly earthquake proportions. Even Ellie jumped off her comfy spot on the sofa and ran to the bedroom. We all got up and ran outside, looked skyward and saw what looked like a scene from "Apocolypse Now." FIVE large military helicopters flying over our neighborhood.

Charlie: What the hell?

Pua: TV choppers? Some kook being chased by cops on the freeway?

Charlie: Nope, those are military.

Caris: (calmly) Nah, it's Obama.

Charlie and I both do a double-take and look over at Caris. We're all still standing out on our front lawn, joined soon by neighbors coming outside to stand on theirs and watch the helicopter "parade."

Charlie: What?

Caris: (matter of factly) It's the President. He's here for a "Town Meeting." People are already lined up over at the fairgrounds for tickets. The meeting's Wednesday. Two thousand tickets available, first come, first served. I'm thinking about skipping class and going.

Charlie and I look at each other, and then back at Caris.

Charlie: And you know this because....?

Caris: Geez Daddy, it's all over the news.

Charlie: You watch the news?

Caris: Well, actually, I saw it on FaceBook. That, and my Government teacher mentioned it. I wonder if I miss class to go to the Town Meeting if that will be an excused absence?

Once the helicopters have passed and the rumbling stops, we go back inside. Caris gives us more details about Obama's visit to Costa Mesa, and how we probably should avoid driving near the fairgrounds on our way to work tomorrow. (She was right. It was crazy over there.)

About an hour later, the phone rings. It's Averie.

Pua: Hi Honey! Guess what just happened?

Averie: Obama arrived in The OC.

Pua: Yeah! How did you know?

Averie: Facebook.

Pua: Grrr

Averie: Never mind that. This is better.

Pua: What?

Averie: He's gonna be on the show Thursday.

Pua: Who?

Averie: OBAMA, Mommy...President Obama!

Pua: Really? Are you working the show Thursday?

Averie: HELLS YA!

Apparantly, the Pages are being immersed in protocol, the Secret Service has made an advance visit, and security measures are being put in place. Averie is pressing her Brooks Brothers Page suit.

So, if you're up watching Obama on Leno tonight, remember whose daughter is behind the scenes making sure the President has everything he needs in the Green Room.

I'll be over here gloating.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Beware the "Stitch-Ripper", Keeva

I had my surgical follow-up visit with my doc, who gave me the all-clear for travel. I can make my flight arrangements to go home for my Mom's services. Everything's fine and he just told me to take it easy, not push myself too hard, and protect my incisions until they're completely healed. He was also quite impressed that I've lost 58 pounds since September (12 of which have been lost since this whole gall bladder episode started). Delighted, I left the doctor's office and made my way to the store to see how much "catch-up" I had to do with all the work I missed.

When I got there, Wes's little Keeva pup, who is the official House of Tiki "shop dog", greeted me with excitement. Whining with fervor and with her tail wagging like the wings of a hummingbird, I couldn't resist the temptation to scoop her sweet little puppy self into my arms. With Caris and Wes there sternly warning me NOT to pick her up, I crouched down to collect my kisses and licks. She was having none of that and jumped up into my embrace while I giggled. There is nothing more soothing to the soul and healing to the body than puppy lovies. I guess Caris and Wes's warnings may have fallen on deaf ears, because I found myself lifting her off the ground while she licked my face and continued to let me know, in no uncertain terms, that she missed her Auntie Pua. Suddenly, her back paws made contact with my tummy and I felt something "pop". I looked down and saw a lovely red stain forming on my blouse, and squeeked out a meager "uh-oh".

I put Keeva down, looked down my shirt, and saw that her little paw had pulled one of my stitches. I quickly put my hand over the bloodstain to hide it from Caris and Wes, but Caris saw it right away. All my 21 years of mothering her came right back in my face.

Caris: What did I say? Did I say "Mommy, don't pick Keeva up?" Did I say that to you?

Pua: (sheepishly) Yes. But she's so cute. I couldn't resist.

Caris: Now look what happened? See what happened? Geez. Stubborn woman. (motioning me to the back of the shop) Well, come on. Let's go get that fixed.

Pua: (following obediently) Ok.

While Wes and Caris, in a flurry of activity, futzed around with the First Aid kit, recommending Neosporin and butterfly bandages, Keeva looked up at me from down at my feet with her big, dark, puppy dog eyes full of love. "Don't worry Sweetie, I'm fine." Once I got all fixed up by the House of Tiki "medics", I sat down on the floor and gave her a cuddle while Caris admonished me, eyes rolling. "Do you not learn?"

I guess Jess and Marc's Bernice and I have yet, one more thing in common. Although I didn't pull out my own stitches, Caris thinks it's all the same, and I'm in the doghouse as far as she's concerned.

Still, the Keeva kisses were worth it. Please don't tell Caris I said that.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Pearl Pua'ala Keli'i; Wife, Mother, Tutu, Friend.

Tutu and a "few" of her MANY mo'opuna (grandkids)

Caris and Tutu; Summer 2006. One of my favorite pics of a really happy time.

"Pua...put down that camera!"

Monday, March 09, 2009

When It Rains...

I'm recovering. Thank you for your kind thoughts and well wishes. I wish I had the strength to go into detail, but suffice it to say that thankfully, I don't have that pesky gall bladder anymore. Now it's just a matter of healing. Physically, that should be easier than getting over the sadness I now feel since a phone call a couple hours ago from my sister back home. My mom passed away today. It really does pour when bad stuff happens, doesn't it?

She's with my dad now. I know in my heart that my siblings and I are all grateful for that. It's been a long road. She deserves her rest. Aloha no Mom. Aloha no. Thank you for loving me enough to give me the kind of life you felt I deserved even though I know it was hard for you. I love you.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Gall Bladder Hell

I don't even know where to begin. It just seems like an unending nightmare that I can't wake up from.

After being told to be at the hospital Monday morning at 5:45 am, we got there only to find that I was not on the surgical roster. It's so long a drama, that I don't even have the strength to sit here and write it all again. Needless to say, I still have the diseased gall bladder that is making my life hell. My surgery has been pushed to Thursday with apologies and assurances. Right now, in light of all we've been through in the past few weeks, those don't mean a whole hell of a lot to me.

In my nearly 30 years of marriage, I've seen my sweet, calm, kind and funny husband angry maybe a fistful of times...but yesterday, if he had anything held back, well then, the dam broke. Doctors, hospitals, and staff members were scrambling. I guess we'll see on Thursday what those apologies and assurances are worth. Fingers crossed, this will be over soon.

With my mom now in kidney failure and refusing all treatment, my mainland siblings are returning to Hawai'i to be there. I had hoped to be done with this, get a few days of healing in, and then get myself back to Hawai'i too. I considered just scratching the whole thing and just being prepared to go, but I know that if I am in pain myself, I am of no use to anyone. I need to get this behind me. In hindsight, I'm also very grateful that I did go home last month. If anything should happen this week as it very well could, I had my time with my mom and I know she knows I was there and I love her. Still, the temptation to just say the big "fuck you" to my doctors is overwhelming. I need to be rational, think straight, and get this gall bladder saga overwith. It is not going to heal itself and it's not going to cooperate unless I basically starve. I need to be well, not just for me, but for everyone around me.

On the upside; my kids are sure pouring on the TLC and Ellie is never far from my side. I have to say how very proud I am. When I had to suddenly get to the emergency room last week, Caris and the Grommet literally took over. They coordinated their school schedules and ran the store in my absence. They have stepped up to the plate, told me not to worry about anything, and literally kept House of Tiki running for the past week. Wes was away on a trip, and I was proud to tell him that all was under control because the "Ohana Factor" kicked in. My kids took care of everything without being asked. And even though they were worried about me, they did what needed to be done. If the pride I feel right now was a prescription drug, I'd be healed. My kids are awesome.