she was loved…

I just learned that one of my sisters has passed away. Praying that she would not succumb, it wasn’t a complete surprise that she did. She’d had cancer.

A few years older than me, I grew up idolizing Lucy. She was pretty, had a smile that lit up her entire face…with a personality to match. She was a songleader…a softer, more lyrical version of a cheerleader. And she was smart. Why guys weren’t knocking down our door to date her, I’ll never understand. Maybe it was our strict Catholic upbringing, or mean looks from our mom, or maybe it’s because my sister had really high standards. I’ll bet she’s looking down, nodding her head in agreement with the last reason.

My sister and I were quite a few years apart, separated by a brother. They were closer in age. As a result they were best buddies. I kind of tagged along, orders from my mom. I was probably a real drag to have around.

I remember once when I went with them in search of something we referred to as “rabbit grass,” to feed our rabbits. We climbed over a fence onto private property. As we poked through the overgrown vegetation, I heard my sister yell “A bull!!!” She and my brother lit out of there as if it had started chasing them. I ran to the fence only to find that they were already hightailing it down the road back to our house. When they realized I’d been left behind, I think Lucy said they’d better return to get me or “mama will kill us!” They returned, hiked me up over the fence, set me on my feet, and we all got the heck out of there. I think I was crying, but I don’t remember the bull making a move toward us. I’m not sure.

Lucy taught me to dance. I was always a willing partner when she was trying to learn new steps, like the cha-cha-cha or the be-bop. We would laugh as I stumbled, trying not to step on her feet. I can’t remember my brother joining in. Maybe he did, but thanks to my sister my passion for dance grew. When I was a teenager, I was known as the dancing queen around school. Classmates would ask me to teach them how to do…the twist, the jerk, and the “mashed potatoes.” I continued the tradition and passed my love of dance along to my daughter, who went on to make it a career. Thanks sis!

The thing I admired most about my sister is the wonderful brood of children she raised. She cherished them, 3 girls and 2 boys. And I have no doubt they were as devoted to her as she was to them. They, and their children, are a credit to my sister, and her husband Jim. Both role models, living their lives with compassion for others.

While my sister and I weren’t as close we probably would have liked…our lives taking us in different directions…in our hearts we had only the best wishes for one another’s well-being. So I’m at peace with her now being in Heaven, relieved of her suffering. Nonetheless, I am sad for those closest to her heart who are left behind. It will be awhile before their sorrow is lessened. I’ll continue to pray for them, that God keep watch over all…

…my sister by His side.

………hugmamma.012

 

 

 

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…one breath…

A lovely, lovely video created by Livonne…in memory of her dad. 

We can all take away the message of love we hold dear in our hearts…in spite of the heartache that often accompanies it.

You can read the post which accompanies this at… http://livonne.com.au/2015/07/15/with-just-one-breath/

…leaves me…speechless.

………hugmamma.

journeying towards her best life…#14

Helping to foster their sister’s well-being, siblings have lent voices of encouragement as Pat continues to move forward on her journey.

Louise…
Glad to hear you have been doing well.  We continue to have you in our thoughts and prayers.  Let us know if you are “ono” [“craving” in Hawaiian] for anything.  Do you have to follow any special diet?

Mary…
I want to always be there for Pat sending only positive energy her way.   I, like you, want to share in her experience but don’t want to ask too much.  She already has enough.  I am so impressed with her strength……she inspires me. 

Dan…
It’s great to hear about all that is going on…with Pat. I don’t want to bug her about how she’s doing.

Cindy…
Pat…our sister, is truly a special person and it warms my heart to read about her journey and to be allowed entrance into her inner thoughts, fears, concerns, etc. Also your explanation of her medical condition and treatment helps us to understand what she is going through without her having to explain it 12 times! Thanks so much!

John…
Thanks…for the updates. I’m sure Pat appreciates not having to deal with all the personal inquiries. Meanwhile, we can still keep up with her information.

Kathi…
Reading about Pat and knowing how she’s doing is helpful to me and I’m sure the rest of us. It gives us the opportunity to know how she’s doing without all of us bombarding her with repetitive questions. You’ve made me laugh and cry through all of the posts you’ve written. 

I’m proud and happy to have been born into this family. I miss mom and dad. We are their legacy! I know I don’t say it but I want you all to know how much I love you!

 

And again, Kathi…
Thanks for all you’re doing for Pat. Selfishly, for me and many others too. Burdens have been lifted and healing has begun.

I thought you’d like this anecdote. Joey received an email meant for me and comes running in to tell me I got mail from HOT mamma! Whaddaya think? Should I correct him or let him believe you’re really hot???

And this is what Pat had to say to her siblings…
Thank you all for the thoughts, prayers, and words of encouragement. It’s hard to find the words to express how I really feel. Our family is amazing…but you all knew that already. As long as I feel good, I will email to let you know what’s going on. And if I feel crappy, Brad will update you. I love you all…always. 

And what does Pat think about my penning her journey?

I’m glad there’s a venue for everyone to be able to follow what’s going on. Not that I mind phone calls and emails. Day time TV pretty much sucks, so I’m happy receiving and responding to emails. 

As for me…

…at 65…i might like being called…

………”hot” mamma.

Co-dependent families and the roles we play in them

Written a few months ago, however it seemed appropriate to the holiday season when families can be a bit more sensitive to one another.

We all need to set aside our anxieties and…

…celebrate our true selves.

………hugmamma.

Streams of Consciousness

I’m not a therapist, so I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on the topic of family roles. All I know about the subject is from my  personal experience, in learning about, and working on, healing my addiction to the role I have played.

According to many family therapists, there are four dominant roles that children play in dysfunctional families. I believe everyone knows what a dysfunctional family is, but if you’re wondering and not sure, I’ll give you a textbook definition.  I remember, when I began my healing  journey, hearing John Bradshaw say that 98% of families have some form of dysfunction. 

Definition of a dysfunction family: A term used to describe a family where  conflict, misbehavior, and abuse of varying degrees and types continually takes place. Dysfunctional families are continuously out of balance and often teeter on the edge of crisis, or they may be in continual crisis.  The family…

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goldilocks…who’s that sleeping in my bed?

Fellow blogger Following My Joy posted the youtube video at the bottom of this post to her site  at
http://followingmyjoy.com/2014/09/01/its-raining-cats-and-dogs/

Her post reminded me of my own pets Mocha and Sitka. I guess it’s true that when it comes to canines and felines…kitties have the upper hand…or so they like to think. Is it fearlessness, egoism, or…just plain ignorance?

 

Meanwhile, as my kitties demonstrate…blood is thicker than water. Brothers Sitka and Juneau have no problem sharing tight quarters. On the other hand, when Sunkist was still with us, she made no bones about her displeasure at sharing HER space with Sitka. 

IMG_5306
February 2011 00019

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

weekly writing challenge: dna analysis

I’m a comic.

No. Not the Sunday news kind or the Superman kind, but the stand up kind. My daughter threatens to follow me around with a video, recording me as I mouth one-liners. And, of course, you know what comes next? She wants to share me with the world by uploading the video to YouTube! Yeah, right! Like that’s ever going to happen.

Superman

It’s not what you’re thinking, that I’m shy or humble. Heck no! It’s because neither of us knows how to upload a video onto YouTube. We’ve got the brains…we just lack the motivation. 

Funny thing about being funny. It just comes naturally, for me at least. I can’t remember anyone else in my family being funny. With 9 kids to raise after my dad died, funny was probably the furthest thing from my mom’s mind. Most likely she was thinking…life sucks…those stupid kids…I gotta get me some…I need a drink.

My siblings can be funny, when they’re not reminding me that they’re older and smarter. My brother Ed never does that though. He knows I’m smarter. I’ve got a college degree to prove it. Even though I know diddly-squat about computers, something at which Ed’s been working for 40+ years, only retiring a couple of years ago. And when it comes to being funny, he just had to open his mouth and cackle, and I was on the ground laughing my head off while holding my pee. A couple of missing teeth in his wide grin was enough to set me off.

Adolf Hitler, head-and-shoulders portrait, fac...

Talking about toothless grins. My once exuberant smile is nearly nonexistent now, unless I’m with close friends and family. That’s about 4 people.  You see, I’m in the midst of a tooth implant. Since it’s a couple of teeth back from the front left side, my smile is the length of Hitler‘s mustache. Get the picture? I could wear the retainer which the dentist made for me. It’s got my old tooth where my new crown will be. I’d have my old smile back, but then I’d have to take the retainer off every time I ate. You can see my dilemma…smile or eat…smile or eat…smile or eat. My ingenious solution? I eat during the day…and I smile when I go to bed at night. My husband likes my smile, although he wishes I wouldn’t wake him up to look at me…smiling.

It could be said that I cornered the market on funny because my siblings beat me to everything else…beauty…brains…brawn…booze. Being the youngest, I had to settle for the leftovers. Except there were no leftovers. So I went outside my family and found…funny. 

I probably caught the bug when black-and-white TV was invented. I learned funny from the masters…Laurel and Hardy…The Three Stooges…I Love Lucy…The Honeymooners…Abbott and Costello…George Burns and Gracie Allen…Red Skelton, Jerry Lewis, Art Linkletter, Milton Berle, and Jack Benny

Lucy watches Little Ricky's birthday party fro...

Lucy watches Little Ricky’s birthday party from the window ledge. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Or maybe I decided to be funny as an attention-getter. My friends and classmates thought I was hilarious when I fooled around, making goofy faces and spinning tales that were only half true. 

Once during elementary school I told a fib that back-fired. I did it to gain popularity among my classmates but wound up making enemies instead. I don’t remember what the lie was; I only remember crying and sweating…profusely. I forgot to mention one minor detail…I was in Catholic school where the nuns taught us…not to lie. I must’ve been MIA during those lectures. 

I was cured of fibbing, but I went on being funny. Like the time I pulled a papaya tree completely out of the ground. I didn’t plan to, of course. It just happened while my best friend and I were taking a breather from hunting down a litter of stray kittens in a neighbor’s backyard. I leaned against the skinny fruit tree, wrapping my arms around its trunk. When I moved to leave…the tree came with me. We had a hard time “replanting” it, especially since we were laughing so hard. We finally leaned the papaya tree against another one nearby, and ran like the dickens before the homeowners found us trespassing on their property. The hard-working Japanese couple might have beaten us with their shovels! Can you blame them? Of course I never did tell my mom. She would’ve beaten me for sure.

My daughter thinks I’m at my funniest now, when I’m on a rolling laugh. It only happens with her. One of us starts laughing, then the other. Then it’s as though we’re hitting a ping pong ball back and forth over the net. It’s even more hilarious when we’re on our cell phones. Using TANGO, we get glimpses up each other’s nostrils or deep inside our cavernous mouths. Jiggling our phones as we rock back and forth with uproarious laughter, we catch site of pimples…blackheads…”crow’s feet”…snot…drool…perspiration…smudged eyeliner. Not a pretty sight, I guarantee you. But one worth all the gold in Fort Knox

…a 27 year-old daughter cracking up at her 64 year-old mother’s…funniness.

………hugmamma. 

Papaya trees

Papaya trees (Photo credit: 4nitsirk)

daily post challenge: my earliest memory

One of my favorite recollections was of the time my sister, brother and I hightailed it from a charging bull. Being the youngest, about 5 or 6 at the time, I was naturally the least capable of running the 50 yard dash in less than a minute. I don’t think my siblings were too much faster, although come to think of it, I didn’t see them again until they came back to help me climb back over the fence. Not sure what they would’ve told my mom if they showed up without me when they got home. Maybe they thought with 8 children to raise, she wouldn’t miss me until they’d grown up and left home. Whatever! I was just thankful I wasn’t left as food for the bull. I’m trying to remember if we were able to hang onto the food we’d gathered for our rabbits.…can you blame us…if we didn’t?…hugmamma. 

Dolls!

Image by Dan Coulter via Flickr

Another early memory…2 for the price of 1…Again when I was a youngster, maybe 8 or 9 this time, I received the most beautiful, white doll from an elderly friend of my mom’s. The doll had been a cherished treasure of the woman’s since her own childhood. It meant a lot that she was relinquishing it into my care…a lot.

Christine, the name I gave my precious, new friend, was still in pristine condition, having been kept in her box all those years. I’m certain she was only removed on special occasions, or for a “look-see” every now and then. Well I wasn’t about to keep her hidden. No siree. She was getting prime real estate on my bed. Christine and I were going to sleep side by side, heads resting together on my pillow at night. And during the day, she had it all to herself.

Well the love affair with my new doll didn’t last long. My older sister whispered “sweet nothings” into my mom’s ear, and Christine was no longer mine. Of course I cried and pleaded, but the rationale behind the adoption was that I would probably break the doll playing with her. Better she remain without blemish in the more responsible care of my sibling. I was heartbroken, to say the least.

Various antique to modern Black dolls from the...

Image via Wikipedia

As a gesture of reconciliation, my mom bought me my own doll that Christmas. Excited, I tore open the box only to reveal a black doll with short, curly hair, unlike Christine’s long, wavy, auburn tresses. I tried not to let my disappointment show, but didn’t succeed. Even my mom’s explanation that the doll reminded her of me, that it was a Hawaiian doll, didn’t appease my little girl’s heart. I left the doll in her box for a few days. But then I realized she was probably sad at being neglected and unwanted. So I brought Roberta, a name which seemed to suit her, into bed with me and comforted her. In truth I think she comforted me, for I felt like we were two unhappy souls.

Some years later when my sister left home for college, she returned Christine to my safekeeping. I was grateful but no longer felt in awe of her beauty. She became one of several dolls which I’d collected in the interim. No one could replace Roberta who’d been my comfort all along.    

Both dolls are only memories now, although I will always remember Roberta as the best friend a little girl could have…in happy times…and not so happy times…hugmamma.  

twitter…hummingbird?…or nasty bug?

Ellen DeGeneres

Not sure how many of you tweet via twitter. My brother sold me on the idea eons ago. I took it as a compliment that an older, tech-wise sibling thought my writing was good enough to hit the air waves. Hesitant at first because of all the advice against “putting it out there,” I finally went for it. I get how it’s done, on the most elementary level. WordPress included an icon which, when clicked, sends my posts into the internet stratosphere. That’s the extent of my understanding. I’ve visited my twitter site which looks like Greek to me, except for the fact that Ellen de Generes is tweeting to it regularly. Can’t say I’ve been asked to return the favor. No matter. She’s like a hummingbird whose tweets I find musical. 

Recently, however, I’ve noticed that before I’ve even tweeted my posts, it’s already been done…twice. How’s that happen? I thought perhaps my brother lent a helping hand, and maybe WordPress. If I recall, it would happen most times, but not always. So I thought perhaps certain words in my post triggered the tweets. Happy not to have to bother doing it myself, I didn’t give it a second thought. Today, however, I decided I’d better tweet, because my posts might not be making it to my own twitter site. That the other tweets were posting to other sites. I can rationalize anything, even if it makes no sense.

Follow me on Twitter logo

Image via Wikipedia

When I clicked the twitter icon, I was asked to “sign on,” something I’d not been asked to do in sometime. Try as I might, the resulting prompt indicated my username and/or email did not match up with my password. So I proceeded to request help from Twitter Support. Indicating they could help me reset my password, I decided to do that. To my total surprise, shock actually, the message I received from them to my email address was to a “Helah Chester @helacobtendy.” “Who the heck is that?” I thought. 

I never did learn who the perpetrator was because my query to Twitter Support said their service was down, that I should try again later, or that my username and password didn’t match. Well about this time is when my cable service was shut off while the Comcast repair guy worked his magic. When it was up and running, I decided to click on the name and email address Twitter had sent in their message. Up popped their screen saying that that the account had been “unsuspended.” The screen was then replaced with my Twitter site which looked as it should. Thereafter when I proceeded to tweet my recent post, it worked. Go figure.

Alex Payne from Twitter at Bear Hug Camp.

Image via Wikipedia

When I first sought Twitter’s help in the matter, their site did indicate they’ve been having problems, beginning 3 days ago, and again an hour before my visit to their site. Makes me worry. Do these internet gurus know what the h–l they’re doing with our information? Makes me doubly worried.

So was Helah Chester a victim of their bungling, like I was? Or is there something more sinister at work here? Hummingbird? Or nasty bug? Depending upon what any of you might have to offer by way of explanation…

Nature at Its Best (2254321574)

Image via Wikipedia

…i may have tweeted my last note…although my hubby thinks i’m overly cynical…could i be?…hugmamma.

“the daughter’s walk”…from spokane to nyc

WordPress site, jeanne’s blog, introduced me to Blogging For Books. In exchange for free books from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group, bloggers are asked to review them when done reading.

The Daughter's Walk: A NovelNot normally a reader of fiction, non-fiction being more my speed, this book caught my attention since it’s based upon the life of a real woman who lived in the Spokane area of Washington State, where I reside. Moreover, she is of Norwegian descent. My husband’s boss hails from Norway, and we’ve traveled to that country, so I had an inkling about its heritage, but wanted to learn more. The most intriguing thing aboutThe Daughter’s Walk,  however, is the walk itself. Mother and daughter trekked from Spokane to New York City to raise money to save the family farm. They had entered a challenge in support of the ladies suffragette movement, which would pay $10,000 to whomever won.

So The Daughter’s Walk  had 3 very persuasive ingredients which drew me in. It occurred in my own backyard, so to speak; it involved a culture with which I wanted to become more familiar; and undertaking the challenge was a phenomenal feat for women. It helped that I had also lived and worked in NYC, because I could visualize the ordeal and felt it an impossibility for 2 lone, female travelers to undertake.

Author Jane Kirkpatrick writes fluidly, so the read was relatively easy. In 385 pages she managed to cover quite a bit of the history of the Estby family, as told from the viewpoint of the heroine, Clara Estby. I must admit I’d not realized that the story was based upon real people and real occurrences. I probably picked up the book, turned to the first page, and started reading. I don’t tend to study the whys and wherefores, unless it’s a book for which I’m passionate to know every single detail, like a favorite person’s biography.

It’s probably just as well that I read Kirkpatrick’s book as pure fiction, because I was simply captivated to see it unfold as an imaginary piece. I was amazed at the details she included such as those with which Clara needed to educate herself to run a furrier business. Growing up in Hawaii, skinning animals for their luxurious pelts is totally foreign to me. Hence my captivation that a young woman would so involve herself.

Clara’s family background also touched a chord in me, since I’m the youngest of 9 who grew up without a father since he died when I was one. You’ll have to read the book yourself to see where she and I might have something in common. Suffice it to say, our childhoods weren’t normal, especially in relating to our siblings. Our moms also had their own burdens which weighed heavily upon those around them. Again I think Clara and I bore a resemblance in that we were extra sensitive to our mothers’ struggles to be independent, without success.

As expected, the walk from Spokane to NYC was not something any woman could undertake without consequences. I felt the author skimmed the surface of that entire experience. I thought mother and daughter would surely encounter so much more in the way of bad things happening, not that they hopped, skipped and jumped across the continent. But I thought they got off relatively unscathed. Except that how their adventure affected the remainder of their lives compensated for what I felt was lacking during the trek across country.

When I realized, at the conclusion of the book, that The Daughter’s Walk was, in fact, a historical recollection of true facts, which were slightly embellished to fill in the blanks, I was very excited. To think that these women really did undertake the walk from one coast to the other, and that Clara Estby’s experiences left her mature beyond her years, quite literally dumbfounded me. I’m not sure the same could be undertaken in our contemporary times, with the same results. I’m pretty sure they couldn’t.

I recommend The Daughter’s Walk for the unique experience it offers in a pleasantly told, conversational narrative. Jane Kirpatrick helps us to see that anything’s possible, with hope and determination.

(Note: Please rank my review by scrolling to the top and clicking on the image in the upper left hand corner. You can help me win an award! Mahalo…hugmamma. 🙂 )

365 photo challenge: publisher

The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. My first attempt at putting a piece of writing “out there,” is occurring within a few days.

Author B. C. Young has given me the opportunity to publish a story on his blog, “The Time Capsule.” You might say, Mr. Young is my first publisher. His inquiry came after I posted his interview on my blog about self-publishing. Grateful that he would promote something I’d written, I’m encouraged to add to, and eventually finish the piece, whether as a short story or a novel.

I invite you to visit his blog at http://the-time-capsule.com over the next few days in anticipation of my piece, “A Long-Held Secret.” Of course I’ll alert you when Mr. Young advises that he’s published my work. He enjoyed my piece; I’m hoping you will as well. I look forward to reading comments you leave on his blog.

hoping you agree with b.c. young…hugmamma. 

tsunamis, on maui

Growing up on Maui in the 50s, I can remember a couple of instances when the island was hit by tsunamis. I don’t recall, however, that they were as devastating as the one which hit Japan today.

Coquillages à Fadiouth, Sénégal

Image via Wikipedia

As a toddler my family rented a large house in Waiehu, across a one-lane road from the beach. The land was flat, hills looming tall behind our home. As kids, my siblings and I spent a good amount of time playing on the beach, pocketing sea shells, chasing one another along the shoreline, and yelling our fool heads off when the cold water splashed against our bare legs. We enjoyed frolicking in the sand and the surf, while the heat of the tropical sun warmed and tanned our bodies.

I can recall one specific, sun-drenched day, when an eerie quiet hung in the air. And yet, there was a faint, far-off ringing that pierced the stillness. It seemed to come from the vicinity of the horizon. Over the period of a few hours, the entire ocean had withdrawn until it loomed ominously across the horizon line. After surveying the ocean floor, devoid of water, our family quickly withdrew to the hilltop, and awaited the inevitable.

A picture of the 2004 tsunami in Ao Nang, Krab...

Image via Wikipedia

The ringing grew louder as the sea came roaring back toward land, wave upon wave seeming to consume all that lay below us. And that’s where my memory ends. I’ve no idea what we salvaged, for we kept rabbits and chickens. Perhaps we released them to run for their lives, and went in search of them in the aftermath. I’ve no idea. I’ve also no recollection what damages befell our house. Those things don’t figure into a toddler’s mind, at least not mine.

I remember another time when I was older, my mom was driving a few of us kids along the road that ran past the pier that bordered Maui’s capital city, Wailuku, and the neighboring town of Kahului. Traffic crawled as those in cars gawked at people who had abandoned their cars alongside the road, running to scavenge fish that lay on the exposed ocean floor. They thought little about the risk to their lives, for it was certain they could not outrun the thunderous waves that would come crashing down upon them, when the sea rolled back in from where it stood along the horizon. The police seemed helpless in their efforts to corral those who would sacrifice everything for a few fish. My mom didn’t linger to witness the sad scenario that was destined to become even worse. We read of the fatalities the next day, in the local newspaper.

Though these events are distant memories, my fear is still palpable. As I watch TV news programs showing the terrible destruction in Japan, I can feel the despair that must have overwhelmed those who were unprepared for the onslaught, and the dread of those who could only watch as fellow Japanese were bandied about like Mother Nature‘s playthings.

Kahikinui coastline, Maui

Image via Wikipedia

Tsunamis, like other natural disasters, leave little to the imagination. They’re here, and then they’re gone. What’s left in their wake is of little consequence to them. Humankind is left to refashion its environment, after Mother Nature has had her way. Is there any doubt then, who is the true master of this earth we call home?

reflecting upon our smallness…keeps us humble…hugmamma. 

valentine sentiments, a lifelong romance

After nearly 41 years of marriage, what can my husband do that still “makes my heart sing?” The quick answer is “give me a musical greeting card that plays ‘WILD THING, you make my heart sing, you make everything…groovy!’ “ Normally conservative, he’s a man of few words. As college valedictorian my husband’s speech consisted of 3 words, “Silence is golden.” As you can see, my husband has a “funny bone.” His humor can be sweet as well. Oh he can tease me endlessly, after all he’s the eldest of 12 and I’m the youngest of 9. But in unexpected moments, he surprises me with the smallest gesture that melts my heart and makes me giggle, like the young woman I was when we first met 44 years ago.

A lifetime of shared memories, of valleys and peaks, of maturing from 17-year-olds with “butterflies in our stomachs,” to seniors purchasing discount tickets and munching popcorn from a shared bag at Regal Cinema. How did we continue holding tight to one another’s hands, so certain we were a good match? I don’t think we knew for sure. Who does? 

It’s always amazed me how complete strangers, foreign to each other in every way, including the blood coursing through their veins, can cleave to one another as is expected when they are pronounced man and wife. That has got to be the one overriding “APT,” or “automatic positive thought” they must fight to keep for the rest of their lives. I can only imagine the civil wars that are waged within marriages between that one “APT” and the overwhelming army of  “ANTS” or “automatic negative thoughts” that bombard married persons every day.

I can only answer for myself that 41 years together has made my husband and me believers in the same faith, if you will. Yes, we are both Catholics, but our faith in each other is more profound than religion. I’ve heard it said, where I don’t remember, those whom we love most and who favor us with the same, affirm who we are. They are the passports for our earthly existence, and we for theirs. In an episode of  “I Love Lucy,” the Ricardos and the Mertzes satisfied the Passport Bureau requirement when they all acknowledged knowing one another, thus enabling them to travel abroad. If not for those who testify to our existence in their lives, we might only be murky shadows, in others’ collective memories. Vague memories which might include “Oh yeah, I remember her. Wasn’t she in our graduating class?” or “He was such a loner. Did he ever date? Did he marry?”

Looking into my husband’s eyes all these years, I’ve seen a “diamond in the rough” looking back at me. His love and unwavering commitment has helped me slowly evolve into the brilliant gem I am today. Light may not bounce off gray hairs, as it once did when it shimmered against dark locks, long ago. But the heart that beats within, remains the same. It still skips a beat when my husband walks through the door, after a long day’s work. Just as it did when I saw the boyfriend who resembled a young Elvis, stride through the front doors of my college residence, coming to collect me for a date.

Maybe my husband heard my beating heart when we were young. These days I might have to amplify the sound slightly. We’re both growing older, together. A funny card and a box of old-fashion candy hearts inscribed with sayings, reminds me that our romance is ageless. While the inscriptions are not as endearing as they once were, I selected a few which held special meaning…”call me, hold hands, soul mate,” representative of our good “young” days. “Shake it, boogie, oxox” are my hope for our lives going forward. One very special candy heart is inscribed “angel.” Our daughter was a gift after 16 childless years. I’m sure God sent us one of his own… to complete our marriage.

treasuring reminders… of priceless sentiments…hugmamma.         

a special relationship, daughter and father

Readers of my blog from the start, know that I was fatherless as a child, my dad having died when I was one. Age 30 at the time, my mom never remarried. I don’t know how she felt about remaining a widow, but I remember wishing she had a husband. I would have happily helped her pick one.

When my mom worked as laundress, part-time cook, and sometime-chaperone at a Catholic orphanage in Paia, Maui, Mr. Chalmers worked there as groundskeeper. He was tall, with sandy-blonde hair that fell gently across his brow. I remember thinking his blue eyes were kind-looking. Even as a youngster in elementary school, I sensed there was chemistry between my mom and this “hauole,” Hawaiian for “foreigner.” But it went nowhere.

As I reflect back, and I have many times, I wonder if my mom felt uncertain in the company of a “hauole” man, being that she was native Hawaiian. The cultures are so different, especially back then, in the 50s. Perhaps she felt him too different, even while she might have found him attractive. All I know is I liked him, I wanted a dad, and I wished my mom would have brought Mr. Chalmers home to our family!

When I was littler, I wished my mom had married “uncle” Lot who lived next door with his sister, “aunty” Miriam. They weren’t family but they made us feel as though we were.”Uncle” would cradle me in his lap, where I’d curl up, my sleepy head nestled against his shoulder. Maybe uncle wasn’t my mom’s “cup of tea,” but he was most definitely mine.

Then there was our next door neighbor, and landlord, Ah Sing. We’d moved to one of his family’s rentals when I was beginning kindergarten. Unfortunately he was already wed, to my best friend Leola’s mom. Her dad seemed a better match for my mom who was friendly and warm like Ah Sing, both having Hawaiian blood coursing through their veins. His wife, on the other hand, was Chinese. She reminded me of the ice queen in the “Narnia” movies. So there went another great candidate for my dad!

But the “piece de resistance” was Dr. James Fleming. He too would’ve made a great pairing with my mom, in my limited child’s experience. He was a little plump, like my mom. And though he wore wire-rimmed glasses and sported a crew cut, though slightly longer, he was still attractive. He had a broad smile, a twinkle in his eye, and always gave me a big, orange gumdrop at the end of each visit. When he vaccinated me with an injection in the arm, I’m sure I cried. The needle looked like it would’ve been used on a horse, not on my scrawny arm. But Dr. Fleming made me feel brave, and would reward me with 2 pieces of candy. Now what kid wouldn’t want him for a dad! But alas, he already had 3 sons, and a wife. No matter, I continued to fantasize.

Dr. Fleming was of the Lahaina, Maui Flemings. Throughout my childhood, up until I was 16 and left for college, we often frequented a beach near their home, named after the family. I’m not sure if it’s still known as Flemings Beach. It might have been renamed something more befitting the island’s commercial growth, especially if the Fleming’s no longer own property in the vicinity. But even before I learned he was wealthy, Dr. Fleming was the knight in shining armor sitting astride a white horse, who would come galloping along to whisk my mom, and me, off into the sunset. Yes, even then I was a romantic.

When I was older, probably of middle school age, my mom revealed a secret, one I wished I’d known earlier. She told me when I was born, Dr. Fleming offered to adopt me. He’d have welcomed a daughter into a family of all boys. Obviously, my mom declined, but I’m sure she lingered over her decision. She had 8 other mouths to feed, although some of the older ones might have since left home, to make a life for themselves.

What would I have done if I’d known of the adoption earlier? Probably just what my mom did, think about it, but then reject the idea vehemently. After all, my mom and older siblings were my world. One of my brothers was adopted by a childless couple. I’m not sure how he felt about being given away at the time. Did he cry, refuse, sulk? I never asked. I’m not sure if he’d tell me now, at 71.

Writing this blog has proven cathartic, therapeutic. What’s become increasingly apparent these last 6 months, is not growing up with a father has impacted me more than I’d realized. There’s a void no one can completely fill. It’s as though my life has listed since birth, like a sailboat that never righted itself. Thank goodness family and friends have helped anchor me, ensuring that I’m not set adrift. I’ve learned to accept my imperfect life, my listing, continuing to “sail” far and wide. The world that passes before my “bow,” is the same one seen from the bow of a sailboat that maneuvers perfectly.

My daughter has been nurtured by two parents, who love her dearly. And I have been lovingly nurtured by she and my husband. Going forward in life, she and I agree that we’re blessed to be “drinking” from glasses that are always half-full. But I’m so thankful that my daughter has my husband for a father. He would have been my choice as a dad too, if he’d been an adult to my child. But watching him with our daughter, more than compensates for the father I never had.

a father-daughter tradition, hugs for…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.