best friends ‘neath the papaya trees…

As a youngster growing up on the Island of Maui, I had a best girlfriend with whom I got into a lot of mischief. We never went looking for trouble, yet trouble always seemed to find us.

Take the time Lee and I went in search of stray kittens. It was either her cat or mine that had given birth to a litter. We were sure the kittens had been  sequestered nearby. We searched in and around both our houses, scouring the surrounding shrubbery as well, and my mom’s greenhouse. It only seemed natural that the cat would want to keep her young safe from prying eyes and worse, bothersome children.

Not finding our prey, my sidekick and I ventured into uncharted territory, a neighbor’s yard.

An elderly, Japanese couple owned the property which backed up against both ours. Separated by a tall, wooden fence, we could only glimpse the tops of their papaya trees.

Proceeding cautiously, we crept onto virgin territory.

Stepping gingerly between rows of vegetables foreign to me at the time, we mewed softly hoping for a response. It didn’t take long when, to our delighted surprise, one white kitten scampered across our path and out of sight. Darting to and fro we tried to pick up its trail. With the noon sun beating down upon us, we paused to find respite in the shade of the papaya trees.

Relaxing my guard I leaned back against a papaya tree, wrapping my arms around its scrawny trunk. Lee and I soon found ourselves laughing giddily. Chasing after kittens in the neighbor’s yard seemed deliciously naughty, and tons of fun. 

As if on cue, we heard someone stirring inside the house.

Preparing to flee, the tree moved with me as I straightened up. My heart dropped to my toes when I realized that the tree had come loose from its hole in the ground. With mouths agape and eyes darting toward the front of the house where the owners would soon emerge to see what was afoot, Lee and I hadn’t a clue what to do with the tree. Sounds of a door slamming and footsteps in the carport catapulted me into action. With arms still wrapped securely around its trunk, I leaned the papaya tree against another of its kind nearby. 

Without looking back, Lee and I bolted out the side gate through which we had entered. We took refuge on our side of the tall fence, too scared to talk. Hunkering down in fearful excitement, we could hear soft voices grumbling. I’m sure they weren’t saying “Hot diggity dog! Just what we wanted…a broken papaya tree!”

While we were never found out, my friend and I never trespassed onto the neighbor’s property again. We did, however, manage to find ourselves entangled in other such uproarious adventures.

Crazy escapades were just part of our childhood, Lee’s and mine. We were just lucky that way…I guess.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_writing_challenge/my-dear-watson/

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nurturing thursdays: quality time…lasts forever

It’s nice being a normal family once again, doing simple things together. 

My husband and daughter are having a rare father-daughter day. They visited the Motor Vehicle Licensing department to switch her driver’s license over to Washington State. Upon entering, they were pleasantly surprised to find they were the only customers. When asked how they could be helped, my husband replied that this was the first time he’d ever seen a government licensing department empty, especially at 10:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning. The ladies behind the counter chuckled.

Expecting to wait an inordinate amount of time, my husband and daughter found themselves with hours to kill before seeing our tax accountant. Without me offering a myriad of suggestions, they opted to have a nice breakfast nearer the accountant’s office. That ate up an hour. When I called to see how they were doing, they had another couple of hours to waste. They spent it walking around the few small shops in the area. Since both had their Nooks, they figured they’d read or play games to while away the remaining time.

Our family is fortunate to spend so much quality time with one another. It’s been the driving force in our lives. Or I should say…in my life.

Not having had a father, and having to share my mom’s attention with so many siblings while she was our sole breadwinner, meant I clung to whatever thread of stability I could find.

Children crave stability. Without it, they flounder as adults.

With my husband and daughter, I found the home I’d been without for so long. Happily, we will always love and support one another through all the changes life still has in store for us.

Last night I learned from an older brother that our eldest brother is dying. 

I remember Stanley as being shy and gentle, with a nice laugh, and a tall, lanky frame. From what I can recall, he never lacked for female companionship. I think he had 3 wives and just as many children. I can’t be sure because I rarely saw him or them. Sadly, we were worlds apart as to…where we lived…and our life experiences. Bridging the gap never seemed a possibility because he was such a loner.

Nonetheless, I will always remember my brother affectionately for trying to help mend a broken bridge between another sibling and myself. The moment was awkward and she never took up the challenge to right things between us. Being the youngest, and unable to drum up the courage to speak of the past hurt, I clung to my husband seated beside me and kept my head lowered until the moment past. 

Broken families beget broken people who find better lives for themselves…

…and never look back with regret or remorse or bitterness…

……….hugmamma.IMG_1997

…a kid like no other…

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Michael Jackson’s talent. I was reminded of it a couple of days ago when one of the TV channels ran the song/dance videos from Jackson’s hit album “BAD.” The station was celebrating 25 years since the album’s release.

Michael Jackson

At the time “BAD” hit the airwaves, I wasn’t impressed. Like many, I preferred the sweet, innocent, black Michael. “Who was this whiter, sexier, long-haired version?” I thought. Unwilling to accept that he had changed, just as we all do, I dismissed him…and his music. Not until his death did I resume my admiration for a talent the likes of which we haven’t seen before, and probably won’t see again. 

I recently picked up another Jackson biography at Half Price Books, for 20% off no less. “My Friend Michael” by Frank Cascio is an honest depiction of the mega watt star from the stance of a young man who grew up knowing Jackson since age 5. At the time Michael was in his 20s. Along with his brother, Eddie, Frank got to know the boy behind the man…the Michael Jackson whose childhood was swallowed up by a career run amok.

Who can judge what should and shouldn’t have happened in another person’s life. We all do what we need to do to survive. Joe Jackson, Michael’s father, did for his family what any father in the same dire straits might have done. The fact that he drove his sons with a heavy hand, denying them the ability to experience other facets of life is something Jackson, Sr. will have to square with his Maker when the time comes.

We all have personal baggage left over from childhood, be it good, bad, or indifferent. Having my fair share of issues, I can see that life is never a straight path to old age. That Michael even made it to 50 is a wonder. The pressures he faced, perceived or real, would’ve taken a lesser man down.

The Cascio family of New Jersey offered Jackson a safe haven from all the ugliness that others hungry for fame and financial gain dished out.

Michael Jackson wasn’t without faults. Who is? What’s that line? People who live in glass houses…shouldn’t throw stones. We all tend to forget that, especially when the media whips itself up into a feeding frenzy. Great white sharks have nothing over the papparazzi when it comes to ripping people to shreds if given half the chance.

I’ve read all manner of books about the “man behind the mirror.” In doing so I’ve been able to formulate a pretty well-rounded impression of Jackson.

I subscribe to the notion that Michael was indeed misunderstood. He wasn’t blameless to be sure, but he certainly couldn’t take the time to explain every aspect of every decision he made. Remember the hyperbaric chamber in which he was photographed lying in repose? According to Cascio…

When he was photographed in a hyperbaric chamber, rumors began flying that he slept in it–in reality he’d donated it to a local hospital to be used in the treatment of burn victims. Of course, sometimes Michael was just being a character, joking around, but the impetus for his behavior was never as freaky as people were always so quick to assume.

And about the surgical masks Jackson had taken to wearing?

When he wore a surgical mask, people thought he was hiding some new plastic surgery–in reality he was at first protecting himself from getting sick before performances; then he found that wearing the mask made him feel like he was in disguise (when in fact it called more attention to him); and ultimately he turned it into a one-of-a-kind fashion statement, having his silken surgical masks custom-made.

Under normal circumstances, folks might have been asking if it were any one other than Michael Jackson…”Where were the parents?” Haven’t you wondered that with the likes of Brittney Spears and Lindsey Lohan? Perhaps because the Jacksons were black meant the standards were somehow different.

That, I think, was the underlying issue with the public’s perception of Michael Jackson and his family. It’s the same dilemma with President Obama.

Without precedence for blacks who succeed beyond their wildest dreams, Jackson and Obama are scrutinized to the nth degree. Journalists try to get inside their brains to determine how in the heck such unlikely candidates for success…succeeded. And we, the public, are caught up in the media tidal wave. It’s up to us to grab for whatever life raft we can to bail ourselves out of the flood of hysteria that ensues.

Elvis Presley

Most of my generation will remember the similar persecution of another amazing talent who took the world by storm…Elvis Presley. He with the voice, and moves, of a black entertainer. Nothing like him had happened along before.

Whether we are resistant to change in our music, or find it difficult to accept that all races are created equal, we should keep reminding ourselves that…for better or worse…we all inhabit the same earth. None of us are going anywhere…except to meet our Maker. Until that day we should all try to be less quick to judge.

Shakespeare’s Shylock from “Merchant of Venice” says it more eloquently…

Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs,
dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with
the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject
to the same diseases, heal’d by the same means,
warm’d and cool’d by the same winter and summer
as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed?
If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us,
do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?
If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that.
If a Jew wrong a Christian, what is his humility?
Revenge. If a Christian wrong a Jew, what should his
sufferance be by Christian example? Why, revenge.
The villainy you teach me, I will execute,
and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction.
(Act III, scene I)

 

………hugmamma.

Michael Jackson performing The Way You Make Me...

cee’s fun photo challenge: houses

The dollhouse built for our daughter by her dad…and lovingly furnished with her mom’s help. Loving reminders of…a time that lives on in our memories…and our hearts. 

...preparing for halloween...

…preparing for halloween…

...expecting company...

…expecting company…

...the family room's a mess...

…the family room’s a mess…

...where dreams are made...

…where dreams are made…

...time to watch "hgtv"...

…time to watch “hgtv”…

...bathroom break...when ya gotta go...ya gotta go!...

…bathroom break…when ya gotta go…ya gotta go!…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

…where has the time gone?…

………hugmamma.

 

 

born…62 years ago

Thanks to the well-wishers both here and on Facebook who sent birthday greetings. I think we’re all humbled and grateful when singled out from the crowd, and we’re assured of that at least one day a year.

I considered myself lucky to have both my husband and daughter with me on my birthday…the entire day. Since it occurred this past Monday, they would normally have been working. But fortunately for me, we’ve spent my last 3 birthdays together, flying home from California.

My daughter’s season with her ballet company usually ends in May, so that she seeks dance gigs where she can during the summer months. For a number of years now she’s been able to find summer employment both in Oregon and California. And my husband and I have been able to see her perform closer to home, than traveling cross country to where she normally works. Our family is very grateful for these small blessings.

Before heading to the airport to return to  Seattle, our daughter in tow, we opted to have a nice birthday breakfast at the Hyatt Hotel located near where we stayed while in California. As we sat awaiting our meal, tears came to my eyes. Noticing, my husband and daughter asked what was the matter. I replied that I was thinking of my mom.

As I sat amidst the splendor of the Hyatt’s restaurant, I was saddened that my mom hadn’t experienced a life such as mine. That she never remarried after being widowed at age 30; that she faced the remainder of her life without a loving companion by her side; that for each and every birthday, she didn’t have her own family doting upon her; that she lived on love leftover from what others could spare.

My mom’s life was good, considering how it began, she being the youngest of 14, widowed early and left with 9 children to raise. We, her offspring, did our best to provide for her while trying to provide for ourselves and our own families. But while her physical needs could be met, providing for her emotional and psychological needs were difficult at best. 

Diagram of the brain of a person with Alzheime...

Image via Wikipedia

Like the rest of us, my mom perceived life according to her own experiences, both good and bad. Without a companion to help highlight the good and diminish the bad, it’s my feeling she amassed negativity until it totally consumed her. Falling victim to Alzheimer’s did not help. But I’m certain her negative frame of mind contributed to the onset of the dreaded disease.

Being the youngest in my family meant I was the last to leave home, and was therefore alone with my mom as she began middle-age. On a daily basis I bore witness to her inner struggles, her insecurities, her doubts. I often absorbed the brunt of her personal frustrations. And there was no one in whom I could confide, except a few best friends with whom I’d grown up. My siblings were gone, and had families and lives of their own to tend.

Throughout my adult life, my mother and I continued to struggle, she trying to continue dictating to me, and me obviously resisting, trying to live my own life, especially after I married, and had a child 16 years later. Not until she passed away, and I experienced firsthand the challenges of motherhood, as well as middle-age, did I fully appreciate the purgatory my mom’s life must’ve been.

Though we were often at odds with each other when she lived, my mom was the one human being who knew me best, until my husband and daughter arrived on the scene. My mom was there for me, moreso at certain times in my life than others. But she was my world, my family, for she was all I had day in, day out, for years growing up. For better, for worse…she was always there for me.

So when I celebrate my birthday, I celebrate my mom’s life…

for she gave me life…one that i now treasure…with my loved ones………hugmamma.

weekly post challenge: when did you realize you were an adult?

My reply left as a comment on the WordPress Daily Post site was

 hugmamma

Probably when I received the first bill that I had to pay for with my own hard-earned cash.

i’ve been becoming more adult-like ever since…more and more bills…hugmamma. ;)

Burgersandfries

Image via Wikipedia

I could add to that:
 
  • When I realized no one had my back.
  • When I could stop minding my p’s and q’s…sort of.
  • When I could wear mini skirts and not have the nuns around frowning at me.
  • When I could buy a hamburger, root beer float, and french fries, without waiting to be asked.
  • When I could stop taking afternoon naps at my mom’s insistence.
  • When I could stay out past midnight without my mom threatening to lock me out of the house.
  • When I could yell back at someone who was yelling at me.
  • When I could kiss…and not tell.
  • When I drank alcohol, and didn’t brag about it.
  • When the gynecologist could do what he does, and nobody blinked an eye…not even me.
  • When I could swear, albeit silently, and know I wasn’t condemned to hell.
  • When I could miss Mass, and know I wasn’t condemned to hell.
  • When I could dislike certain people, and know I wasn’t condemned to hell.
  • When I knew God loved me no matter what.
  • When my daughter was born, and I knew I couldn’t send her back from where she came.
  • When I started getting older, and no amount of whining could change that fact.

 

 

Chocolate Cherry Cheerwine Ice Cream Soda

Image by Doug DuCap Food and Travel via Flickr

what about you…or are you not there yet?…hugmamma.

counting my blessings

On my recent flight home, I overheard a fellow passenger remark “It’s good to get away, but it’s always good to come home…sleep in my own bed.” Amen! Again I say, Amen! So this seems as good a time as any to reflect upon that for which I’m very thankful, beginning with…

  • The memory foam mattress that snuggles up against all the contours of my body, as though I was sleeping on a cloud. Now if only I could lay my brain beside me, so it too could get a good night’s rest. Maybe then I’d slumber peacefully, rather than thinking what next to write.
  • My husband’s affection pulling me into a huge bear hug. Just where I belong, until death do us part…not even then.
  • Crouching down beside Mocha, the doggie “love of my life,” to whisper “sweet nothings” in her ear. 
  • Lovingly stroking the length of Sitka, Juneau and Sunkist, as they stretch up to share their hearts with me.
  • Laying my weary head on my daughter’s shoulder, as she embraces me into the bosom of her “old soul.”
  • Letting my home, still decorated for Christmas, nourish my soul with childhood delights.
  • Reading emails from friends and family, sharing memories, newfound discoveries, and always love and concern.
  • Writing and blogging, journaling my thoughts and feelings, wary of the day when I might not, but thankful for the precious moments of the present.
  • Knowing that I’ve a network of online readers with whom to share my journey is mind-boggling, but a blessing I wholeheartedly welcome.
  • My health, such as it is, keeps me ever mindful that quality of life is fragile, and shouldn’t be compromised by poor choices.
  • The Maui of my childhood, where innocence and naivete abounded, ingrained forever in my moral fiber.
  • My Aloha spirit, my compassion for others, a legacy from my mom and those who came before.
  • The 2 angels who have gently guarded my well-being these last decades of my life, continuing to do so, my husband of 40 years and my daughter of 24.
  • And God above all, who gifted me with life, ensuring my best, knowing He is always with me…ALWAYS.

 

counted your blessings lately?…hugmamma.

the “power of words,” beware

Spent the night tossing and turning as negative thoughts about this, that, and the other, crept into my overactive brain. As I fought to regain control of my positive self by repeating good thoughts, I finally felt as though an invisible hand reached in yanking me from the fray. I’m sure you’ve had such moments, perhaps not as I’ve described. But I’m a writer so I tend to dramatize.

The “invisible hand” was the realization that Kitty Kelley, via Oprah: A Biography, had inadvertently infiltrated my spirit with negativity. It may be that all she says is true, as told by those she interviewed. Of course it’s their perception of events and occurrences to do with Oprah. Meanwhile, the woman herself did not speak on her behalf. So we must take the words written about her with the proverbial “grain of salt,” in this case a whole shaker full.

I don’t question others’ perceptions; I do question the author’s need to slant her “tell all” with overwhelming negativity. As a biographer, Kelley feels compelled to delve deep. But the truth she reveals can be edited to corroborate what will drive readership and therefore, sales. Just as Oprah may not be the altruist everyone perceives, Kelley may not be the diligent author she presents herself to be.

Other than financial gain, why would Kelley choose to decimate Oprah’s visage as the great humanitarian? In speaking of the failed attempt by Nelson Mandela and Bishop Tutu to get Oprah nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, Kelley writes:

I started the Nobel movement after Oprah appeared at the Dream Academy Dinner (May 24, 2005) to raise money for at-risk children whose parents are in prison,” said Washington, D.C., publicist Rocky Twyman. “When she stood up, praised God, opened her purse, and gave that Dream Academy a million dollars, I wanted to get her the Nobel Peace Prize…but the Nobel committee did not want to give it to a celebrity. So I formed a committee, and we talked to Dorothy Height (president emerita of the National Council of Negro Women), who was all for Oprah because Oprah had given Dr. Height two-point-five million in 2002 to pay off the mortgage on the NCNW headquarters….Dr. Height contacted Nelson Mandela and Bishop Tutu, and we set out to get publicity to collect a hundred thousand signatures for Oprah’s nomination to present to the Nobel committee….

“Unfortunately, we only got forty thousand signatures…because a lot of men, black and white, refused to sign…and a lot of religious people would not sign because they said Oprah was not married to Stedman and she gave a bad example to our young people by her lifestyle. I believe we all sin and come short of the glory of God, but these folks, mostly from black churches, and all conservative and law-abiding, felt very strongly that Oprah had put herself above the laws of God. I was stunned, but I’m afraid there are strong feelings against her in our (African-American) community….Of the forty thousand signatures we were able to get, most were white, not black. We got a lot of publicity and raised awareness for her getting the prize, but in the end I guess God did not want it to happen.”

Good read, but essential? Only in a gossipy tell-all book, trying to leach off the wealth and celebrity of another. I got sucked in, yes, but most biographies I’ve read have a thread of compassion running through them. When I turn the last page, I’m usually filled with sadness that once again fame and wealth has destroyed, rather than helped, someone’s life. By comparison, Oprah: A Biography, left me with a bad taste in my mouth. All the negativity consolidated in one place by the author’s self-serving manipulation of the facts, goes against my beliefs.

My gut instincts now tell me to be wary of silver-tongued writers. Readers with a stronger stomach and a less-sensitive constitution may be unaffected. I take what others say, to heart. Living and working in New York City left its mark, for I am cynical. But my island roots run deep, and my Aloha spirit makes me more empathetic, especially when Oprah’s childhood was not one of happiness and privilege. I may not condone all she does, but I take the good with the bad. She’s human like the rest of us, no matter what she and her fans might think, and say.

the power of words…be wary of their effect…hugmamma.  

“40 winks”

children’s voices drift in through the window,

trying to catch “40 winks” isn’t happening.

are they squabbling again, bro and sis?

too faint, sounds like mumbling, can’t tell.

jasper’s bouncing his basketball,

bounce, bounce, bounce,

bounce, bounce, bounce.

like the time he was riding his pogo stick,

boinga, boinga, boinga,

boinga, boinga, boinga.

childhood memories of

gulping and swallowing, 

fresh air, extra “d”s,

extra benefit? 

endorphins, endorphins, endorphins!

gets me up, can’t lie still,

brain cells throbbing, red eyes bulging,

incoherent, have to blog this.

aaahhh…

maybe now, maybe now,

“40 winks.”

going to try.

close the window,

maybe now…maybe now…maybe now…

zzzzzzzzzzzzz…hugmamma.

homage to a selfless sister-in-law

As I grow older and more reflective, people come to mind who inspire me. Such a person is my sister-in-law, Pat. Her husband, my brother, follows my blog.  He’s probably bug-eyed right now wondering why I would shine the spotlight on his quiet, unassuming wife of many, many, many years. How many anniversaries has it been, Ben?

Pat was born in a small town in Maui, at least it was back in the 50s and 60s. Makawao was considered “up-country,” although not as far up as Kula, home of Haleakala, the dormant volcano. We had to drive through Makawao to visit aunts, uncles and cousins in Kula. Because we rarely stopped in Makawao, I’ve very little childhood memory about that hamlet. My only recollection is that during high school, I would cheer for our teams, the St. Anthony Trojans, when they played against the Maui High School teams, from Makawao. I don’t even remember what they were called!?! Modern day Makawao is now a tourist mecca, which I probably wouldn’t recognize if I were ever to stop, enroute to Kula.

So my fondest memory of Makawao is Pat. From the first time I met her when I was probably a pre-teen, until I saw her a couple of years ago, she has always been welcoming, warm, and unpretentious. A broad smile is always at the ready, or a concerned look that deepens her brow is just as quick to comfort. I’ve had the benefit of both, during the few years when we saw more of one another.

Once I spent 3 weeks or so visiting with Pat and Ben. My husband was out of the country on business. While my brother worked, I found it easy to be in my sister-in-law’s company. Never a person to fuss over people or things, we would just putter all day, eat, chat, fix beds, chat, watch TV, chat, gossip, chat, and intermittently check to make certain their pet beagles hadn’t burrowed their way under the chain link fence, to wander off down the road. On rare occasions we went shopping, mostly to the supermarket. Pat was one of the most frugal persons I ever knew, still is probably. My brother probably spent more, in fact I know he did, on his penchant for hobby airplanes. At one time, he had a garage full of unopened boxes. Did I mention that my sister-in-law is a saint? A requirement for sainthood, at least in the Pacific Islands, must be some Portuguese, as well as some native-Hawaiian, blood. Both my husband and Pat fit the bill, and I believe they’re both saints.

If my sister-in-law was ever upset, I never witnessed a blow-up, ever. There were times she was quiet, but that was the extent to any alteration in her usually upbeat demeanor. I think she lectured, like most moms do. But again, her voice never seemed to change in pitch or volume. Pat was, and still is, a good fit for my brother. She anchors his “flights of fancy,” cools his blood pressure, speaks in normal, everyday language as he expounds on world politics in the manner of a scholastic. I’ve borne witness to it all, and have had more than my share of belly laughs in the process. They remind me of my husband and I. He does for me, what Pat does for Ben. Opposites do attract,… I guess?

In reflecting back upon time spent with Pat, I use to wonder how remaining within the confines of her home, day in and day out, as a housewife, didn’t drive her crazy. She seemed defined by her family. What could she lay claim to, as her very own? How could she be happy in her own company, surrounded by inanimate home furnishings, and a few pets, 24/7? Didn’t she have dreams, unfulfilled? Didn’t she want more from life, than others’ leftovers? Who was she, if not wife, mother, housekeeper, caretaker? 

I now know the secret to Pat’s life back then, because as an empty-nester whose spouse is still very much entrenched in his career, I’m a housewife, working within the confines of my home most days, surrounded by a houseful of stuff, 3 cats and a dog. But I love my life, and I wouldn’t trade it for fame, fortune or fabulous fun! What I missed most in childhood was the lack of a loving family, no home to call our own, no financial stability, and feeling like my life wasn’t my own. With age and an inventory of life experiences I’ve learned to count the small blessings, the intangible ones that will make a difference to me when I finally cease to be. The world “within” is of more value than the world “without.” What we think and feel seems more important than what we acquire, or how much we acquire. An inner calm can help a young housewife, or an empty-nester, like the life she lives. But it doesn’t mean she’s not open to change.

Pat now happily works outside the home in a major department store, a not-too-thrilled husband having taken over household duties since he’s retired. I think she’s enjoying the ups and downs of a career, lady friends with whom to commiserate, and the opportunity to dress in business attire. Though her circumstances have changed, my sister-in-law remains the same person with whom I can joke and laugh, and just be me. She’s always liked me exactly as I am. In fact, she’s always been one of my most ardent supporters, even when I was a young goof-ball. In that respect, she and my brother are exactly alike. They’ve always loved me, no matter how zany or off-the-wall my antics.

and i love them…just as they are…hugmamma.      

 

fathers cast “long shadows”

Never knowing my father, has surely influenced the course of my life, for better or worse. Not that I grew up dwelling on my loss, because I knew no better. Life with my mom was, what it was. However years of observing father-child relationships, including my husband’s and daughter’s, and being privy to others telling or writing, of their own experiences,  made me realize that being fatherless probably impacted my life in a major way. I’m certain I sought a replacement in every relationship thereafter, looking for the security and safe haven every father is thought to inherently possess. I’m positive I looked for him in every male I encountered. But I would have been just as happy, perhaps, if a woman filled the bill since my mom was preoccupied on so many fronts. My older siblings knew my father as children. So I can’t identify with their loss when he died, although I’m sure it was devastating. What we had in common, was being emotionally bereft of both parents.

As society’s traditional head of the household, a father seems to define a child’s psyche. If he’s present and a positive influence, the child flourishes. If he’s present and a negative influence, the child diminishes. If he’s “missing in action,” the child flounders, and “crashes,” or picks himself up by the proverbial “bootstraps,” and becomes a better man for having suffered. If a child is fatherless, he searches far and wide for his identity. These scenarios don’t preclude a child’s own life experiences with its accompanying peaks and valleys. However, how he celebrates or copes is affected by the presence or absence, positivism or negativism, of his father.

Does a father know the power he has over his children? Too concerned with providing material sustenance, I don’t think he ponders the question. If he did, he might run for the nearest “exit.” What man in his right mind would want the responsibility of playing God? Having to walk the fine line between “His Benevolence” and sergeant-major, while allowing his children the luxury of exercising their own free will in all matters. In my estimation, a man walks into fatherhood “blindfolded.” What he does when the blinders come off, determines whether he’s a good father, or one who sucks, on a scale from 1 to 10. I don’t think I know any 10’s. Even my fabulous husband, probably comes in at a 9 1/2, but my daughter might override me with a resounding “10!”She’d win; after all, he’s her father.       

So much has been said about Michael Jackson’s father who abused his sons, mentally and physically,  in attempting to garner a better life for his family. One oft told anecdote involved Tito playing his father’s guitar, something forbidden by Joseph.

…one day Tito broke a string on the guitar. ‘I knew I was in trouble,’ Tito recalled. ‘We were all in trouble. Our father was strict and we were scared of him. So I put the guitar back in the closet and hoped he wouldn’t figure out what had happened. But he did, and he whooped me. Even though my mother lied and said she had given me permission to play the guitar, he tore me up.’ When Tito tells the story, his words tumble out and he gets tongue-tied. So many years later, one can still sense his anxiety about it. ‘She just didn’t want to see me get whipped,’ he said, sadly. ‘Not again.

J. Randy Taraborelli also writes the following in his biography Michael Jackson – The Magic, the Madness, The Whole Story.

Joseph believed in the value and impact of brute force as a disciplinary tool. ‘Either you’re a winner in this life, or a loser,’ he liked to say. ‘And none of my kids are gonna be losers.’ To be sure of that, he would smack his kids without giving it a second thought in order to keep them on the right track to being ‘winners’. Shoving them into walls was not unusual behaviour for him, especially the boys. Michael, however, was the one boy in the family who would attempt to fight back when provoked by his father. Once, when he was just three, Joseph spanked him for something he had done. Crying, Michael then took off one of his shoes and hurled it at his father. Joseph ducked; the shoe missed him.

‘Are you crazy?’ Joseph screamed at him. ‘Boy you just signed your own death warrant. Get over here.’

Infuriated, Joseph grabbed Michael and, according to Marlon, held him upside down by one leg, and pummelled him over and over again with his hand, hitting him on his back and buttocks. Soon, Michael was crying and screaming so loudly it seemed as if he was trying to summon the entire neighborhood to his aid.

‘Put him down, Joseph,’ Katherine hollered. ‘You’re gonna kill him! You’re gonna kill him!

When Joseph released the boy, he ran to his room, sobbing, ‘I hate you.’ Those were fighting words for Joseph. He followed Michael into the bedroom, slammed the door and then let him have it.

‘Joseph once locked Michael in a closet for hours,’ said a friend of the Jackson family’s. ‘That was traumatizing, horrible for him.’

 Suzanne Finstad’s Child Bride – The Untold Story of Priscilla Beaulieu Presley, reveals that she  inadvertently discovered her mother’s closely guarded secret of Priscilla’s real father’s identity.   

Priscilla nearly collapsed under the strain of her sacred pact of silence with her mother. Ann Beaulieu had placed an enormous burden on a thirteen-year-old child by asking her daughter to keep her paternity a secret, even from her siblings and from the man she now knew was not her real father. 

…She  told no one about the discovery of her true identity, not even Pam. As time passed, she became conflicted about wearing the locket containing the picture of her real father. ‘I felt guilty, because I felt now that I was betraying my stepfather, who was so good to me. Because now it’s like I was hiding something from him.’

The trauma of her mother’s betrayal and her own suppression of the truth affected Priscilla’s behavior. Her grades dropped, eliminating her from eigth-grade cheerleading tryouts, ‘and it was a big blow to her,’ …’She went through a real change of personality,’…

Knowing nothing about him, Priscilla fantasized that her long-lost father died a great war hero. ‘In times of emotional pain and loneliness,’ she said, ‘he would become my guardian angel.’

Finstad’s book also sheds light upon the father-daughter relationship between Elvis and his daughter with Priscilla, Lisa Marie Presley.

Lisa’s self-image as the princess of rock, spoiled utterly by a superstar father, with a staff at Graceland at her command at the age of six, continued even after Elvis died. She was imperious even with Dana, the one close friend she had. ‘It was always very clear that whatever Lisa wanted to do,…she had to have her way.’ In later years, Dana attributed this trait to Lisa’s unexpressed anger over losing her father.

Lisa’s marriage to Michael Jackson, continues the author, may have been deeply rooted in the unconditional love she and Elvis shared.  His sudden death left her feeling helpless, since at age 6, Lisa was incapable of saving him from a self-destructive lifestyle.

Lisa had wed, by an obvious Freudian motive, the nineties equivalent of her staggeringly successful superstar father. Elvis was the King of Rock; Michael was the King of Pop. Both singers, oddly, had pet chimpanzees at one time; both shared an interest in UFOs. Elvis lived in semiseclusion at an estate called Graceland. Michael lived a reclusive life at Neverland. Elvis often rented amusement parks, one of his favorite forms of entertainment; Michael had re-created Disneyland on the grounds of his estate and took Lisa, incognito, to the California theme park on their honeymoon. Both men had married to avoid scandal in their careers: Elvis to erase the stigma of his live-in relationship with a seventeen-year-old girl, or to avoid the Beaulieus’ revelation of their illicit arrangement for Priscilla; Michael to rehabilitate his shattered image following the molestation charges. Michael and Elvis entertained small groups of fourteen-year-olds in their bedrooms for slumber parties. The two music legends were notorious eccentrics trapped in an arrested adolescence, existing on unorthodox diets.

Lisa, some of her friends surmised, had married Michael–on a subconscious level at least–to ‘save’ the father she had loved and lost. By restoring Michael to his former position of glory, by elevating him from the ruin of his molestation scandal, she might, in her mind, redeem and perhaps resurrect her father.

I’m currently reading In My Father’s Shadow – A Daughter Remembers Orson Welles by Chris Welles Feder. A third of the way into it, I’ve felt a pervasive sadness throughout. Despite her unquenchable longing to always be with her father, Christopher, the name chosen by her dad, joyously celebrated what precious little time she shared with him. And in her own words, she explained that while her new stepfather successfully brainwashed her mother in behavior becoming the proper wife of a British Major, Orson Welles’ daughter would never succumb.

During our first year in South Africa, my mother changed from the open-minded American woman who had treated African-Americans as her equals, the woman who had loudly cheered and danced around the living room with Charlie Lederer (her second husband) when we heard on the radio that Franklin D. Roosevelt had been elected to a fourth term. She became a female clone of Jack Pringle, and the two of them teamed up against me, because I refused to change my essential self and blend in seamlessly with my surroundings. I was not a chameleon like my mother. And, strangely, the absence of my father made me realize how much he had already shaped me and that his power did not depend on his presence. I was Orson’s kid–not Virginia’s and certainly not Jackie’s–now and forever.

Thinking that Orson had forgotten her twelfth birthday, Chrissie, aka Christopher, complained to her mother, who responded ‘Instead of sitting there feeling so sorry for yourself, why don’t you think about all the birthdays he did remember?’ After a brief pout, Chrissie contemplated what her mother had said “Then, as though she had flung open the doors of an old toy cupboard, I suddenly saw the doll my father had given me on my fifth birthday–the most beautiful doll…pretty blue eyes that opened and closed when I rocked her in my arms. …the stack of Land of Oz books; the recordings of Peter and the Wolf and The Nutcracker Suite,…the fluffy, pink bedroom slippers… One by one, they came back in a joyful parade, all the birthday gifts from my father. Gifts that were always exactly what I wanted.” But the gift that left its greatest impression upon Orson’s daughter was the one he bestowed on her seventh birthday. During his half-hour radio evening program, This Is My Best series, he announced ” ‘Good evening, this is Orson Welles. …My eldest daughter, Christopher, is seven years old today, and like most ladies and gentlemen of her age, Christopher likes her father to tell her a story. Well, I don’t know of a better one than ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.’ …” Orson’s 7-year-old was overjoyed that Orson remembered her favorite story. Reflecting back, Chrissie speaks of that special occasion.

For a long time after the program ended, I had sat by the radio, lost in a magic world of poisoned apples and happy endings. Five years had elapsed since then, but no one–not even Jack Pringle–could take that memory away from me.

So now I knew what I had to do. Whenever being without my father began to hurt too much,  I would come and sit quietly in my room, close my eyes and remember.

My daughter remembers that in the very early years of her childhood, she wished she could have seen more of my husband. He commuted to work in NYC from Connecticut, a 4 hour round trip which he gladly made, so that we could raise our only child in the idyllic town of Redding. The only concession he asked was that her curfew be 9:30 p.m. He wanted time to play with our daughter each evening, and read her a bedtime story. This was a small request for the sacrifice of time and energy my husband made, so she could be nurtured in the small town environment which we favored.

The better part of our daughter’s memory is filled with wonderful remembrances of a father who was actively present in her life. Unlike childhood friends whose fathers only exacted discipline, or were absent from mealtimes, or dancer friends whose fathers are never seen at performances. My husband has allowed his toddler daughter to dress him in hat, earrings, necklaces, bracelets, rings and fur boa when they played her favorite game, “Pretty, Pretty Princess.” Against his natural instincts that she attend college, he allowed his 16-year-old aspiring ballerina to move to another state in pursuit of a dance career. And after a summer caring for her cat while our daughter was away dancing, her father escorted Misha back to his “mom” en route to a business trip in a nearby state. It was a supreme act of love, since my husband has been on meds for years, as an asthmatic with allergies. Going through airport security, he wore gloves when removing the cat from his crate which went through the scanner, while Misha and “grampy” walked through the screening gate.

All fathers are human, bringing personal “baggage” to the job. Most intend to do well by their offspring, whether they have a plan or “fly by the seat of their pants.” Gazing upon the innocent faces in the pediatric ward, new dads quickly pledge the “moon” to these tiny infants. They never question their ability to “deliver.” That comes later, as reality and responsibility seep into their overtaxed brains. Some walk away; some commit long-term; others remain undecided, going through the motions, until something triggers a decision one way or the other.

A parent is expected to multi-task. Raising children is added to the “to do” list of chores, walk the dog, empty the trash, gas and wash the car, mow the lawn, clean the gutters, power-wash the driveway and roof, refill the bird feeders. Of course children should be top priority, but sometimes life can overwhelm, especially when an unexpected glitch occurs disrupting the fine balance. A parent loses a job, is diagnosed with cancer, is divorced, must care for a parent with Alzheimer’s, suffers the irreparable loss of a child. Where does a parent seek relief? It’s not inconceivable that duty to one’s child slips, eventually occupying the lowermost rung on life’s ladder. In that eventuality, I don’t know a parent who wouldn’t feel like shit. Sorry, but I know that’s exactly how I’d feel. 

Parents don’t get a reprieve. We don’t get to pick and choose which jobs we want to relinquish to someonelse, while we tend to our children. We’re expected to do it all simultaneously. We should show ourselves compassion for trying to do it all, remembering, however, that children are not a commodity, but rather smaller versions of ourselves. They deserve the same respect we desire for ourselves.

Fathers cast “long shadows” over the lives of their children. Their influence is long-lasting, if not permanent. Dads are imbued with the power of “life and death,” physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. They are the kings of their castles. Succession to their “thrones” is dependent upon how thoughtfully they rule over the lives of their children.

for all fathers, huge hugs…hugmamma.

the past, only a reference point

I don’t think it’s possible to escape one’s past. From what I’ve observed first-hand and with others, childhood experiences, good and bad, establish the paths our lives take. Where improvements are possible, we should make them for our own sake, and for the sake of our children. As parents we are empowered to discontinue the cycle of negativity.

Remembering back to when our daughter was to begin kindergarten, one specific memory stays with me. An evaluation was required to familiarize the staff with, among other things, her likes, her needs, her trepidations, as well as our own. On the appointed day, I met with the school psychologist. As I approached her I was nervous, as though I was the kindergartener. In reviewing the form with her, I lingered over a particular answer. The question had asked what qualities we would like in a teacher. It was amazing to think we had a choice. I replied that our daughter was with me most of the day and I was the disciplinarian. Therefore I would prefer that her teacher be more fun-loving like my husband, who enjoyed play time with our daughter. As I spoke, tears welled in my eyes and my voice choked. When I confessed to my guilt at not being more playful, the psychologist assured me that my husband and I were each performing very crucial tasks in our daughter’s upbringing. My equilibrium restored, I left feeling we were on the right path to being good parents.

As a child I wasn’t allowed to play until all my chores were done. Though not unique, it probably influenced the direction my life took. Because my mom was a single parent, working much of the time, it fell to us children to keep our home in order. Once a week I had to clean my room, dust, sweep and mop the living room, weed the small patch of garden at the front of our house, and help my siblings wash the car. Daily chores included setting the table for meals, as well as clearing it off afterwards, and watering the greenhouse plants. When I was older I also had to hand-wash clothes in the water-filled tub; hang them to dry on the clothesline; and hand starch and iron dressy-wear. Then there was homework to be done which, of course, took precedence over everything else. For a number of years, nap time was always part of the mix. So when I was allowed out to play, for I had to ask permission, I enjoyed every precious second, staying out until the sun set if possible. Summers spent with older sisters in Honolulu meant fun, fun, fun. Even though I still had chores to do, there were less of them, and no school meant no homework!

For the most part, doing chores before playing remains my life’s routine. Being 61 and married 40 years has given me license to cut myself some slack. So now I blog before I clean the bathroom. But keeping a clean and orderly home will never be wiped from my DNA, it is too deeply ingrained from a lifetime of repetition, beginning as a child. Just as allowing myself to “play” will never be without a sense of guilt for which I will always apologize, looking for a “pass” from my husband. Raised as 1 of 5 sons, with 7 sisters, he was not as burdened with chores as a youngster. So a clean house is not a must for him, but it is for me. The obsession can also extend to the orderly functioning of my mind as well. If my surroundings are in disarray, my brain seems overwhelmed by what it sees, becoming immobilized. That alone motivates me to straighten and vacuum. Since the presence of dust is only in the eye of the beholder, my mother-in-law living too far away to perform the “glove test,” dusting is one chore which is left for tomorrow, or the day after, or…

I did not insist that my daughter do a list of chores growing up. The cycle was broken with her. I enjoyed keeping house, having youthful energy on my side then. Being a mom was preferential to commuting into NYC to sit at a desk, watching the clock. But perhaps while I was doing what I knew best, keeping house, I allowed our child to have a different life. She was able to find her own passion, not one imposed by circumstances. I like to think that’s why she’s a career ballerina. And, she has proven to be a good housekeeper too. Having lived in an orderly home probably became part of her DNA. Fortunately she tends to play without first having to do all her chores. Thank God!

we are who we are, making the best of it…hugmamma.

redding ct, like the maui of old

When someone learns that I’m from Maui, she always exclaims “Oh, don’t you miss it? Why’d you ever leave?” I take a breath, preparing to answer what I truly feel in my heart.

Maui as it is today, even as it was 15 years ago, is no longer the island of my childhood. As with the neighboring  islands, in fact as with other popular destinations, tourism has transformed what was a less populous, less commercial, off-the-beaten-track locale into a mecca for the rich and famous, and even the not so rich and famous. Mind you, I came to terms with the drastic change some time ago. On one of my last trips to Maui, years ago, it was apparent that visitors to the island provided a livelihood for the majority of the locals. So I wasn’t about to admonish them as co-conspirators in the “ruination” of Maui, while I left to make my living and home elsewhere.

Before my daughter was born, actually before she was even a possibility, I was returning home to Long Island, New York from a business trip to Kansas City. Seated next to me on the flight was an attractive man dressed in cords and a sweater, appearing very much like a New Englander. Striking up a conversation, we spoke of many things.  One of the topics was where we resided. I explained that while my husband and I lived in Westbury, I wanted to move somewhere reminiscent of my birthplace, Maui. I desired the same small town atmosphere, where neighbors knew each other, where children played together, where there were town parades, fairs, picnics. Without hesitation, my traveling companion blurted “Redding, Connecticut! You should move to Redding, Connecticut!” 

I’d never heard of the town, so my new friend proceeded to describe it as a small, rural community isolated from the hubbub of surrounding towns by vast acres of pristine land, much of which belonged to the town ensuring that they would never be commercially developed. He went on to explain that to enter Redding, one either drove alongside reservoirs which supplied water to the town, or along country roads shaded by trees. The idyllic picture seemed lifted from a postcard. Giving me the name of the realtor who helped find this New York City writer a getaway home, I was convinced that my husband and I needed to make the 75 mile trip north of NYC, in search of Redding.

We got more than we bargained for, as a result of our hunt for a new home. Nearly bereft of hope that we’d be parents someday, Redding was the answer to our prayer. After 16 years of marriage, our daughter was born. The first 11 years of her life were spent in an oasis within the midst of suburban Connecticut. Watching her in those early years was like stepping back in time, into my own childhood Paradise. 

Topographically different, Redding had rolling hills, and a man-made lake in which to swim; Maui boasted a dormant volcano, and ocean waves upon which to surf. Redding’s landscape was dotted with sugar maple trees, whose leaves were seasonally transformed into the colors of the setting sun. So unlike Maui’s tropical palms swaying gently in the evening breezes, as the glassy Pacific waters below mirrored the shining  moon overhead.

In spite of their disparities, the people of both Redding and Maui were alike in their hospitality toward newcomers, and the friendliness within their communities. Schools were small, so while students didn’t know everyone personally, they were aware of everyone through friends or others. Children looked forward to trick-or-treating, door-to-door.  School plays were exciting affairs, as were school dances, and basketball games. Sleepovers were commonplace, as were play-dates and church picnics. Dads coached sports teams and led the Boy Scouts; moms were Girl Scout leaders and drove carpools. Children caught buses to school, or walked. Neighbors helped one another; they prepared meals for a family with a cancer-stricken mom; they cared for children when parents were tending to emergencies; they consoled those who laid loved ones to rest.

My daughter’s memories of an idyllic childhood in Redding  are just that, treasured remembrances. And so it is with the Maui of my youth. So when I’m asked “Wouldn’t you want to live there now?” I always reply,  “The Maui where I grew up is in my heart; it’s with me, wherever I am.” I know my daughter feels similarly about Redding, Connecticut, the town she still calls her home, though she’s not lived there for 13 years.

“home is where your heart is,” truly…hugmamma.

surrogate fathers

Reflecting back to my fatherless childhood, I was one when my father died, I probably pined for a male figure to parent me alongside my mom. But I don’t remember obsessing about it, although there were times when certain individuals were present in my life who I wished were my father.

My earliest recognition of just such a man was Uncle Lot. I adored him even though he was not really an uncle; “calabash” relatives were commonplace in extended Hawaiian families. Bronzed by the sun, silver white hair framing a handsome face, I imagined he loved me like a precious daughter. He and our Aunt Miriam, spinster brother and sister,  lived next door to the first home I ever knew, conveniently located across the road from the beach. When not frolicking on the sand or swimming in the warm waters, we’d be playing with Melabee, a German Shepherd belonging to auntie and uncle. We were always invited into their antique-filled home where we snacked on little sandwiches or small, scrumptious desserts. I always loved curling up in Uncle Lot’s lap, burrowing my sleepy head into his chest heavily scented with cologne. I’d rest there while he, auntie and my mom chatted amiably among themselves. I never wanted to leave when it was time to return to our house.  Their home was so much grander, filled with beautiful things, and food more delicious than was our usual fare. As a child I never understood aunty and uncle’s relationship. They were related, but they seemed so comfortable in each other’s shadow, like husband and wife. But they weren’t married, so I wanted Uncle Lot to marry my mom. Of course it was a child’s fantasy, and there it remained.

As a kindergartener I remember we were in a different home, one that I would live in until I moved away to college. Our Chinese landlord lived next door. At first it was “Popo” (grandmother) to whom we paid rent, but upon her death, her son Ah Sing assumed the responsibility. I became long-lasting, best friends with his daughter, an only child for many years. A brother was born into the family when my friend was in high school.

Ah Sing took pity upon my situation, a fatherless child with a mother struggling to support her young family. He would include me on outings with his daughter. One vivid memory is of a visit onboard a navy submarine docked  in the harbor. I still have a small, black and white photograph somewhere, of me perched on a metal seat on an outer deck, long, black hair caught up in the breeze, a furtive smile on my lips, a shy glance directed at the camera. My girlfriend’s mom was not as receptive toward me however, perhaps because I wasn’t a fit companion, being poor. No matter, I became a fixture at their home because I was like a sibling my friend wanted, and another daughter Ah Sing cherished.

The only physician I recall visiting as a child was Dr. James Fleming. His shoulders seemed broad, as though he could carry the weight of the world on them, well… at least that of the sick who visited his office. His hair was a sandy blonde, he wore spectacles and he always had a smile on his face. His bedside manner was comforting, especially to a child who rarely saw a doctor because it was an expense my mom couldn’t regularly afford. But like other generous people in our lives, Dr. Fleming discounted  our fees and never pressured my mom for payment. Receiving a lollipop or large, orange gumdrop was one reason I behaved during an appointment, but more importantly, Dr. Fleming felt like a father if only for the time I spent with him. When I was much older, my mom told me that he had offered to adopt me since he had no daughters, only 3 sons. You can imagine how elated I felt, and disappointed, that I never got to live the fairy-tale life of the Lahaina Flemings. But more than anything, I would have liked to have felt the love of a father like Dr. Fleming wash over me.

My father-in-law, now deceased some 20 years or so, treated me like a daughter. When I first spent time with my husband’s family, I thought my father-in-law didn’t like me. I always seemed the butt of his ribbing. Teasing was something I grew up with as the youngest, and I wasn’t particularly fond of it. I never had the wherewithal to fight back, and felt I must not be loved, or liked. Increasingly, as I was around him more, it became obvious that I was a favorite of my father-in-law’s. I guess I was a combination, pretty Hawaiian girl like his wife, Catholic raised and educated, attending college, with lofty ambitions that might rub off on his eldest son. But best of all I could out-talk the “Portugees,” as he would love to tell me, himself being Portuguese. We could banter back and forth endlessly. My father-in-law, looking much like and behaving very much like my husband, was the closest I ever came to having a father. So it saddened me to see his body, and spirit, deteriorate through the 8 years he survived after a massive heart attack which destroyed 50% of his heart.

And then there’s my husband. A Catholic seminarian a week prior to our first meeting, he had changed his mind about being called to the priesthood. Having left home after completion of 8th grade, he had spent the next 4 1/2 years studying theology. I’ve often joked that God was preparing him for an even greater task than leading the faithful, and that was keeping me on the “straight and narrow,” which he has successfully done for 40 years.

Because I was fatherless as a child, it was imminent that my daughter bond with her dad immediately. So I didn’t look to either my mom or mother-in-law for help when our baby was born. I wanted my husband, myself and our daughter to forge a strong and loving union which would survive the ups and downs of whatever lay ahead. And to this day, our strength as a family continues to thrive upon the foundation upon which it was built. We enable one another to follow our passions, knowing that our love and support is always available 24/7.

So while I may not have had a father of my own to nurture and guide me, there were those to whom I could look for the wonderful qualities that I would one day find in a husband. So I thank my “fathers”, of whom only Ah Sing survives, on my lovely, island, childhood home of Maui.

 very fortunate to have had surrogate fathers, love me…hugmamma.