Thursday, February 28, 2008

Kupuna Mana'o...

I had an incredible day today. I went to Wai'anae to videotape a beautiful Hawaiian kupuna in a hospice at the request of her son. I've known this woman for about twelve years as she served on an island burial council helping to determine proper treatment of iwi kupuna as they were identified in various land development projects. When I first entered the facility, I felt a wave of emotion in the presence of so many kupuna of all ethnicities in the final stages of their life. But when I reunited with this particular kupuna, she looked better than I had expected and I felt relieved. 

We had a wonderful conversation of memories. At times she had vivid recollections. At times she drew a blank or lost her train of thought. Other times I felt her kupuna speaking through her in little precious gems of wisdom which blessed us with tiny epiphanies of revelation. At one point, she talked about the 'eha and kaumaha of seeing so many things Hawaiian disappearing or gone. We collectively broke down and weeped. A nurse walked in and seeing us, felt embarrassed for intruding on such a moment. We turned the camera off and regained our composure. We continued and it was such a joy. 

We asked her what message she wanted to tell her unborn mo'opuna who will see their great-great-great grandmother's message to them. She told them that the world is changing and they will have a hard life but she hopes that they won't be fighting the same fight we are. To save what little is left of our precious Hawai`i. That there will still be a special Hawai`i for them and they will need to persevere with the love and guidance of their kupuna and culture. Even she will be there for them. She said her biggest fear is when people stop caring about each other. Stop helping one another. When the fight and struggle over limited resources creates every man or woman for himself or herself. That is the end of Aloha. That will be the end of the world...