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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.