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Tag Archives: Moloka`i

Grandmothers

Grandpa was buried a little deeper so Grandma could be buried on top of him.

On April 14th, I said goodbye to Grandma, or as I used to call her when I was little, Lola.  After she passed away on March 10th, I went through a mix of emotions and I couldn’t seem to get a good handle on them.  I always went back to feeling guilty and finding myself getting angry at everything little thing even if it had nothing to do with her death.

When I was planning our trip home for last November, I wanted to go to Moloka`i on top of being on O`ahu and Hawai`i.  When it came down to practicality, we didn’t have enough time and I was afraid of Grandma getting frustrated with trying to cook for me without gluten or dairy.  The last thing I wanted to do was make her frustrated doing something she loved to do, cook for her loved ones.

Grandma was my last living grandparent.  Grandpa died a little over 3 years ago.  That was the last time I saw Grandma.  My maternal grandparents died 5 months apart in 2004.  This was another difficult thing I was dealing with.  You never think about what it’s like to lose that last grandparent until it happens.  It’s more challenging to deal with when both sets of your grandparents had a lot to do with your upbringing and who you are today.

Just a fraction of my family

My father’s side of the family is large.  Especially, when you add in the all the extended family, of whom the older ones also had a part in my upbringing and who I am.  Everyone older than me is Auntie, Uncle, Grandma, or Grandpa.  As a child, it was confusing. Two of my relatives I should be calling Auntie and Uncle are around my age.  One is two years older and her brother is a year younger.  I call their older brother, Uncle, and their older sisters, Auntie, but I have never been able to use those titles with them.  It was just weird.  Even my own cousins are confused.  Because of the age difference between all of us, they sometimes call me Auntie.  Even their parents will refer to me as Auntie.  As kids, I told them they would figure it out as they got older.  As adults, they do it just to mess with me.  Most of the time.  The titles go by generation.  Anyone in my Dad’s generation – his cousins – are Auntie and Uncle.  Anyone in my grandparent’s generations – their cousins – are Grandma and Grandpa.

Somehow, we all used to sleep on Grandma Vi's floor together when I was little. I don't know how, but we did.

If I wasn’t at Grandma and Grandpa’s while visiting Moloka`i growing up, I was at Grandma Vi’s or Grandma C’s.  I spent about as much time at their homes as I did Grandma and Grandpa’s.  Grandma Vi told me several times, “Even if no more Grandma Cintang, you still have me.”  The first time she said that, I hugged her and replied, “You’ll always be my grandma.”  That first time came after reminding myself that I still have grandparents even if they aren’t in my direct lineage.  They were words I needed to hear out loud to make my thoughts feel real.

Grandma M, Auntie Ai's mother-in-law. She's always treated me like one of her own. Like a true Filipino mother/grandmother, always tries to make me eat as soon as I walk through her door.

The day before Grandma’s funeral, when the rest of the family was arriving from the outer islands and the Mainland and congregating at the house, it hit me that someone other than Grandma was missing.  The days and nights I had already been there were void of a liveliness that was always present before.  Grandma Oming.  She was the life of the parties.  She always came to the preparations for the get togethers with a smile on her face and asking (in my younger days), “You remember me?”  You could hear her laughing through the din of the parties and spot her with her shock of white hair in the crowd.  I mentioned missed her to Auntie Al that night.  The next day, Auntie Al did a small eulogy before Uncle G’s, that was touching and mentioned Grandma Oming.  The floodgates opened and I was able to finally mourn that loss the way I should have last September.

Grandma Mar-C - she cracks me up!

The weekend I was home for Grandma’s funeral, I was supposed to be in Chicago for Nourished (a food blogger conference) and the Gluten-free & Allergy-free Expo.  I wanted desperately to go and see my blogger friends again and finally meet some others in person, yet every time I prayed about going, I kept getting a “no” feeling.  When Auntie Ai called me with the news, it was clear to me why.  I was supposed to go home instead of Chicago.  I was supposed to spend an enormous amount of time with my family.  I was supposed to remember that I have more grandmothers still living.

Yes, Grandma Vi, you will forever be my grandmother.  I thank you and all the other relatives for what you did to help Grandma when she was taking care of Lelang and Grandpa and after they both passed.  I know it was what any of us would do for each other.

Love bonds us all together for life.  Direct relation or not.

Grandma Zen, Grandma E (Grandpa's sister), Grandma Vi, and Grandma C. They all decided to mimic us doing shots that night. They are loving AND hilarious!

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Express and Excess

 

Sitting on my grandparent's car

 

My younger days were simple, laid back, and full of imagination.  We didn’t have much.  Neither sets of grandparents had much.  I did have some toys, but I spent a lot of time engaged in imaginary play.

I wanted to share some pictures of my and Uncle AJ playing together, but my scanner wouldn’t work.  Uncle AJ is my dad’s youngest brother, who happens to be a mere 8 years older than myself.  He’s like an older brother to me.  We spent a lot of time making forts with the couch cushions and Lelang’s (my great-grandmother) handmade quilts.  We would turn the short stools my grandparents had at the small counter and sit between the legs pretending we were driving a car.

Even as I grew older and collected more toys, I still engaged in imaginary play with friends.  There was lots of pretending to be Charlie’s Angels or Remington Steele.  The fact is, we played outside.  All the time.  My friends never came over to watch TV or play video games.

At one point, we had a play room.  This was when we lived in a 2-storey home with more bedrooms than we had people.  6 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, sunken living room, dining room, family room, and living room.  This was a house that my parents had built so it was brand new when we moved in.  I got to choose which room would be mine and asked for a dutch door for my bedroom door.  Nothing like having the sense that the door is closed, but not really.  I think my parents liked that they could look in on me without having to actually open the door.

Back to the play room.  My parents had their ping pong table in there, which took up much of the room.  When I had friends over to spend the night, we’d sleep in there and watch the stars and planes going through the night sky…pretending it was an Imperial Destroyer come to wipe us out.

These were the days where “play dates” did not exist.  You walked over to your friend’s house, knocked on the door, and asked if they could come out and play.  Or you saw your friends playing outside already and you went out to join the fun.  There were no cell phones to be able to check in and tell your parents where you were.  You told them where you were going and that’s where you were.  If you were planned going somewhere else, you called them from your friend’s house and told them.  The simple mandate each day, be in before dark.

 

Moloka`i Hot Bread. Nothing like it in the whole world and we'll stand in line for hours to get it if we have to.

 

Back in those days, eating out meant going to a restaurant and ordering at the table from a server.  Rarely, did we go to a fast food restaurant in my early years.  Once my brother arrived, there was more McDonald’s, which became his preferred meal.  He would not eat Chinese food when we’d go out and my parents would have to stop and get him a hamburger to eat at the restaurant.  He was 4 the first time he went to Hawai`i with me.  He had never really experienced local food.  Or Filipino food for that matter.  We were on Moloka`i with our grandparents and various other family members.  Every mealtime he would exclaim, “I want MeeDonald’s!”  That boy was SOL.  There was no such thing as fast food on Moloka`i.  It’s so laid back, it doesn’t really matter how long food took between ordering and having it set before you.

Kaunakakai, the main town on the island, finally had a pizzeria open during my college years.  It was a bit shocking to come home to during a visit, but someone met a demand.  Grandma always made sure she greeted me with home cooked food, though.  And at some point during my visit she would always make my favorite clam dish.  Nothing like picking up those clam shells and sucking the clam out along with the broth.

Maunaloa, the original plantation town on the island, where pretty much every family lived when they came to the islands to work the plantations, began to rebuild.  Movie theater went in.  KFC opened.  Yes, KFC.  An actual franchise.  A Subway opened in Kaunakakai, too.  I believe it was the Subway that opened before the KFC.  I was a bit sad when they came to the island, but sometimes you can’t stop change.  As long as we could still stand in a long line at the back of the bakery in town late at night for some fresh Hot Bread.  Good things are worth waiting for.

Kanikapila time. Guitars and ukes come out and the music starts.

My favorite part of going home and being with family is when we get together and the instruments appear.  Guitars and ukulele (pronounced oo-koo, not yoo-koo) are strummed and requests are shouted out. “Blackbird!” “Sunday party!” “On and On!” This goes on for hours.  No one cares about the TV or the computer.  Those not gathered around are usually found nearby playing Pipito or Spoons.

There is magic in the air.  I’m transported back to the days of my youth when my aunties, uncles, and older cousins would take me camping on the beach and we’d sit around the fire singing and playing.  Or we’d craftily sneak out of the house after Grandma and Grandpa were sleeping to see one of my uncles play a gig at the resort.  That was a mean feat, too.  The house made lots of noises.  My grandparents had a shell curtain in the doorway from the hall and the kitchen, which we had to carefully get through.

These days I’m surrounded by people who can’t live without their smart phones.  It is as if they had them permanently attached to their hands. Kids are in front of video games all day rather than outside engaging their imagination and soaking up some natural Vitamin D.  We want things as soon as we order them.  We don’t want to stand in lines.  We want to drive in special freeway lanes to avoid traffic.  We can’t wait until we’re out of the car to make or take a call, or even text.

We buy, buy, buy.  We have more food in our pantries than we can really eat in one week and that would last past a nuclear holocaust.  If you think I missed the mark on that or need a visual, check out What Is On Family Dinner Tables Around the Globe.  The gluttony of Americans is pretty apparent.  I was pretty sad when I saw this yesterday.  So much processed and refined foods.  This is what happens when we want more, faster.

 

The back of our apartment

 

I make a conscious effort to not care if the line I am waiting in to check out is taking a long time to move.  I enjoy the radio while stuck in traffic.  I know that good food is worth the wait and takes time to make.  I try to make sure I’m not buying more than we need.  But yes, there are purchases that make at times that are what I want.  Those are fewer and farther between.

For those of you who don’t follow my other blog, Hunter’s Lyonesse, we moved back in October.  The day we were unpacking and I was in the dining room that looks out to the back, I heard noises.  I had the blinds fully drawn and the windows open.  I looked out and there were kids out back.  Playing.  Not sitting there with hand-held video games.  Actual imaginary play.  It was like I was a kid again.  I vowed that I would never let the sounds of their play irritate me.  They were outside playing the way kids should be playing.  Now that it’s warming up again, some of the boys have taken to playing war games where they stand there a few feet from each other making shooting noises while pointing their guns at each other.  No one was dying.  I guess either no one wanted to die or today’s video games and movies have gotten to them thinking they can’t die.  Either way, it’s cute and it made me laugh.

 
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Posted by on April 6, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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