Friday, March 6, 2009

Memories of my Grandpa


This last week has been a little hard. My grandfather passed away this last weekend. The summer of our wedding John and I were able to visit Hawaii to see and spend time with my grandparents. I am so glad we went because that is the last time I talked to my grandpa and the first time that my husband was able to meet him. I'm happy that grandpa no longer feels burdened by an aging body, but I'm still realizing that he's actually gone. This week has made me especially grateful for my religion because in it there is great comfort.

Grandpa grew up in Lahaina. He finished school up to middle level and then went to labor in the sugar cane fields of Hawaii. He was always a very hard worker. He also used to fish and raise orchids for extra money later in his life. He married my grandmother when he was 27 and she was 23. When my grandmother's mom found out that she planned on marrying someone who was not Okinawan, she threatened to disown her daughter. But, they got married anyways. My grandpa told me when he first saw his wife she was standing in front of a window and would fondly refer to her afterwards as the girl in the window. They were really a handsome pair. Grandpa was once asked to model in his younger years, something I think he was a little proud of.

I first met my grandparents when I was in second grade. Ever since then, grandpa has told me and Michelle that we are like his daughters. Trips to Hawaii would always include walks among the orchids catching lizards, eating mangoes that grandpa picked from his tree, and having him spray our room with Raid each night so that we wouldn't get devoured by the mosquitoes. He always took such good care of us. Grandpa would also take us snorkeling and tell us his stories about spear fishing by torch light at dusk and going to drink strawberry milk afterward during the prohibition.

One of my motivations to learn how to take decent photos is to document my grandparents' lifestyle. It is one that is slowly fading out of existence, but it is so simple and beautiful. My grandparents lived in subsidized housing provided by the sugar cane factory in Lahaina. The house is small, but holds so many sweet memories for me. Since grandpa never had much, the things he would give us as gifts were things he grew and tended with his own hands. One time he clipped almost all the beautiful orchids from his yard and sent them home with us to display as giant bouquets in our rooms. The last thing that he gave me was an air lei of Pele's hair (Spanish moss). It's still alive hanging on the plum tree back at my parent's house in San Diego. One thing that I will never forget about my grandpa is that each time we would leave to return home, he would stand and wave goodbye to us with tears in his eyes.

I know these thoughts can't describe everything my grandpa was but writing this gives me a sense of calm and lets me remember a man that I will miss and always love.

6 comments:

Emily said...

Your grandpa sounds like such an amazing man. What a blessing eternal families are!

Kristen said...

What a sweet tribute to your grandfather - that made me all teary eyed. I am so sorry for your loss and I am so happy that you are able to go and say your final good-byes to him. Travel safe.

Amanda said...

this was beautiful. i love you and we will pray for you. your grandfather will always be a part of you. that is so incredibly apparent from this post. that is as beautiful as the knowledge that he is now with others of your family.

much love.

holtkamp said...

such a beautiful memory melinda. thanks for sharing with us.

Kerstin said...

Sorry for your loss....but sounds like you have wonderful memories of a wonderful man! :)

Heidi said...

What a nice tribute to an amazing man - that was beautiful. You are in my thoughts and prayers...