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Friday, September 16, 2011

What is a Tribute?

Elmore 'Ohana Reunion - The first time all 12 siblings were together.

According to the dictionary, a tribute is defined as an act, statement, or gift intended to show respect, admiration, gratitude, esteem, etc. The list of platitudes goes on, deservedly so. I don't often use the word "tribute". Though I know of many people who are deserving of such recognition, most are happy to play a background role, content in knowing that good was done in the quiet of their hearts. They don't need to blast a trumpet or stand on mountaintops or write it all over Facebook to let the world know of their sacrifices and gifts. These are the people I hold close to me. These are the people I am so proud to know. I didn't know it, but I learned when I met my mother, that she was someone like this.

Everyone has a story. But her story and my family's story is one that to many people would seem quite foreign. To us, it is a story of the greatest of sacrifices. For me, what my mother did was more unselfish than anything I'd ever heard of. When she gave me up, little did she know that she would not see me again, nor would I see her until I was a grown woman with a family of my own. When that call came, it would have been so easy for her to denounce me and pretend that I did not exist. But she didn't do that. She claimed me. She REclaimed me. She gave me a name, a family, a birthright, and a life story. She filled a deep and gaping hole in my life. I'd like to think that in some small way, by finding her, that I did that for her as well.

Things could have been so different. Happily, this turns out to be a tribute in what could have been, in some ways, a tragedy. I so much wish that there were more time. But I know how lucky I am to have received the time I had with her. The definition of "tribute" is fitting for Pearl Puaala Elmore. Because there aren't enough words to thank someone for caring enough to give you life. Especially when you knew that life wasn't going to be lived with you.

Happy Birthday Mom. Thank you. I love you.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Capo

Bryson has recently become quite serious about his music. His musical interest is nothing new. He's been playing the uke and guitar for years, much to my delight. Sometimes when he's in the living room having a little jam session, and I'm in the office, I close my eyes and its very easy to imagine my dad out there, playing away. Bryson has Dad's picking style. It makes Bryson smile when I tell him that. As icing on the cake, he enjoys the same music that my father loved. Of course, Bry is very much talented in his own right. Lately, he's begun writing and recording his own music. When he's not working, or surfing, he's in the garage, either on his own or with his friends, banging out the songs. This is a simple joy in my life that swells my heart. I know that my dad would have loved to be here, sitting in with his grandson, sharing the tunes and the musical wisdom.

Last week, Bryson was, as usual, out in the garage working on a new song. I have gotten used to his music as part of the soundtrack of my life. I go about my business, whatever it may be; housework, paperwork, laundry, etc., always with the Grommet's melodic accompaniment. I was in my office, sitting at my desk, trying to sort through a pile of overdue filing, when Bryson came in. He had a Cat-Who-Ate-The-Canary kind of smile on his face. I thought maybe he had composed a new song he wanted me to hear.

"Hey Mommy, I opened Grandpa's guitar case. He's the last one to use the guitar, right? I mean, no one's used Grandpa's guitar since he passed away?"

"No, Bud. I'm pretty sure he was the last, and now it's yours."

He smiled again and leaned over my desk. Putting his hand underneath the light, he held out a capo which was dangling over his index finger. Carefully, with the other hand, he pointed at the shiny metal end. Not comprehending his intent, I shrugged my shoulders.

"What, Grommie? I don't understand."

He pointed at the shiny metal on the capo again.

"Look! A fingerprint!"

Sure enough, there it was. A perfect fingerprint.

"Yes. So?"

"Well, if Grandpa was the last one to use his guitar, and this case has been closed since he passed away....then...."

I looked up into his eyes. They were wide and full of awe and excitement. As if he had found the most valuable treasure known to man. Or at least to one man's grandson. I couldn't help but smile back at him. He winked at me and walked away with his treasure. It's one thing, I guess, to have something special that belonged to someone special. But it's another thing to have some kind of physical proof that they touched that thing themselves.

This morning, when I went out to the garage to put a load of laundry into the washer, I noticed the guitar leaning against the pool table. It had a capo on the neck, but it wasn't Dad's capo. It was Bry's regular old capo. Then I noticed a little plastic ziploc bag on the table with Dad's capo inside. Something tells me he's not gonna be using that one for awhile. :)