Friday, September 03, 2010

Day 03 : My Parents

I feel like I talk about my parents all the time so if you've heard this story before -- I apologize in advance.

I'm home in Hawai'i mostly to put my mind at ease about the health condition of my mother. That is our relationship today -- me, the caregiver for my mother. Though she still gets around well enough, she is nowhere near how she used to be just five years ago. She's still around after five strokes, kicking cancer, a broken knee, and now she battles diabetes. I can't call it, why she's still around with all the health problems she suffers from, except maybe she has just an unbelievable will to live. I have resolved to not question what the cosmic forces have prepared for me. I know there are countless lessons to be learned by serving my mother. I have always known, as a daughter of a Samoan woman, that it was/is my duty to care for her as she ages. I watched her do it with her mother and her grandmother. Both women lived in our home. I'm so lucky to have known them.
My mother is quite the dancer. Her taualuga was a sight to behold.
Mom is 'afakasi' - half cast - Samoan/Swedish... what a combination.
My mother is from the village of Vaitoloa in Western Samoa. She left there as soon as she graduated from school. I believe she graduated from Pesega. She has never been back since. All she's talked about in the last couple of years is returning to Samoa... for good. I hear such great longing in her voice and wish I could take her back there not only to see the joy in her face but also to connect with the precious soil that she will always call home. I wish I could feel the breeze on my face, as she did when she was a little girl, while riding bareback on her horse. I wish I could be as daring as she, eating fruit bats and grubs, swinging from trees into the stream, and eating sea urchins fresh from the ocean.
My mother at the plantation where she loves to be... even now. Her knife in her arm, ready to siva!
My mother was the eldest girl of 17 siblings. My grandmother was widowed after child number 16. She bore two more after the passing of my grandfather. My grandmother, without any real options, was forced to take on work for American Mormon missionaries. This left my mother in charge of the entire brood. I can't imagine the gravity and the weight of having to care for all those children. This has shaped and formed her and consequently has influenced me as well. She truly is the embodiment of a scripture in the Old Testament:
Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.
-Proverbs 31: 10, 27-29

My father. I don't quite know how my father learned to be a father because he did not grow up with his father. My grandfather died as a young man, leaving my grandmother with seven children to raise. Alone. I am in such awe of the great man he is. His tenderness and mercy upon me, as the former "Black Sheep" of the family, amazes me. My love for my father, rather the love my father has for me is probably best expressed in his actions.
My father with the Ukulele... way before I was even a glimmer in his eyes. He is Hawaiian/Chinese.
My father served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War.
I remember as a very little girl, I always wanted to hang out with my cousins. I'd pretend that I was a big girl and could sleep over my grandmothers house with all my cousins and not get homesick. Mom and Dad would leave me there thinking that all was well. Then, one by one, as the cousins drifted off to sleep, there I was alone and suddenly VERY homesick. My father at home, 30 minutes away, would turn around and come back for me whether it was midnight or three in the morning. That has always stayed with me. Even now, I think how tender his love for me must be. I equate that to the love of a Heavenly Father/ God. If he's anything like my mortal father then I am indeed in deep admiration and gratitude for the abundance of love in my life.
My father is an avid Martial Artist. He is very accomplished in Gojyu Karate. In his late 30's he took on Kung Fu. He has mastered them all.
My father and I. He is the greatest dad!
19 years old... in the midst of my rebellion from the values I was raised with. I remember being stuck in Waikiki. Drunk with drunk friends. My car broken down. Broke. No money. Nowhere to go. No way to return home. There weren't any buses running at 2am. One phone call home was all it took. My father was on the scene within an hour. I look back on that and think how terribly selfish I was then. I can't even imagine what my parents thought of me then. I have a perfect rememberance of how terrible I was. Yet my father... and my mother... never gave up on me. Sometimes I still identify with being the 'black sheep'. I'm still very radical in my thinking yet my father's love radiates energy like the sun. I am so blessed! So very lucky to have wonderful parents.

* * * * *

This post was very difficult for me to write. I have been in tears just realizing how much love they have for me. My feelings are so tender for my parents. It seems that our roles are changing as I take on the task of being the caregiver in their home. They are still going strong, still very much in love. I have such great examples of what marriage is and should be. I am humbled that they picked me to be their child in this life. Grateful that this bond, this relationship will last through eternity. I love you mom and dad!


The Songer said...

Love the tribute. I never knew who your father was. I saw him around but didn't realize he was your father. I love old pictures form the 70's. They had the prettiest (yet so chic) dresses back then!

Live Well, Laugh Often, Love Much said...

This made me tear up a bit. I felt the love. They really are good people. I've seen them give so much of their love to those (foster kids) who needed it most. They have so much to give! And they also raised a daughter the same way. . . with so much love to give.

I enjoyed the pictures. I pray for their health.

evotia said...

Dad to the rescue! So cuuute your parents! How you must make them smile! How much love you felt as their daughter! Awesome!

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