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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Father...


My Father left Tonight...
In a Leap of Faith...
Into my Beloved Mother's waiting and Loving Arms...
As the Skies poured forth their Deluge...
And the Winds of Twilight Caressed his Face...
The Blood of Christ Cleansed his Soul...
And his simple dying message to the World...
Exhaled in the Breath of God...

One Love...

Faith...


To Believe...
Or Not to Believe...
That has always been the Question...
And the Answer...

Another Friend...


Another friend in the same wall...

Monday, December 29, 2014

New Friends...



On my walk home today, I made a new friend. He was just hanging out on the corner...

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Souls...


When you stop seeing a stranger's Exterior...
And allow yourself to only see their Soul...
It becomes so easy to Love them...

Hula...


Her Majesty Queen Kapi'olani...























Selected scenes from Her Majesty Queen Kapi'olani's 180th Birthday Celebration...

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Hō'ailona...


I had just finished visiting my Father. I caressed his head and chest, over and over, held his hands and also caressed his arm, like my Mother used to do to me, or to soothe and put to sleep any fussy infant or child. I talked to him about his Life, recalling certain events, or stories he once shared with me, or achievements of his that I was proud of. He just lay there, teary eyes looking deep into mine. We just looked longingly into each others eyes for quite awhile as I professed what a great Father he was, and how lucky he was to see my Mother, sister Nalani, and other relatives whom I missed very much, soon enough. I didn't know how much he understood, or what he was thinking, but in our silence, I tapped into his Soul as I looked deep into his eyes. I knew his Soul was very much alert, cognizant, and transmitting Love. My Soul talked to his Soul as the words formulated in my Mind. 

Then I spoke out loud again, about all kinds of crazy things, whatever popped into my head, and often laughed out loud. My Father would break into a big grin here and there, and his weakened face would contort in huge smiling chuckles of his own. They meant the World to me. Then I stood up and put a hand on his forehead and the other holding his hand, and prayed over him aloud. It was one of the most calmest, assured, and meaningful prayers I can ever recall issuing. No sooner had I finished, his eyes rolled close, and he went into a deep sleep. I had to watch his chest for signs of breathing, as he really was motionless. For a minute, I was really worried, that after calling in the ancestors and Angels, and committing his Body to Christ, that he may have closed his eyes and left his body. I was relieved to see him breathing again. 

I left the care home and as I approached my car, I saw these bright lights shining on my hood. I at first thought someone put lights on my car or a  Christmas decoration of green, red and a golden bell. But as I drew closer, I realized that the pick-up truck in front of me, had a shiny sticker on the tailgate. The Sun was reflecting the sticker onto the front of my car. One Love. What a Beautiful Hō'ailona...One Love. Yes... We Truly Are...

Reflecting...


I stopped by Walls in Waikiki to watch the Sun setting this afternoon. The final days of 2014, producing an array of colors that even the eye can't discern, but the camera sensor surely reproduces vividly. I was thinking about Christmas Eve and how I had wanted to share this story, but had come across a photo of homeless Tony and his crooked back, and ended up sharing his story. Now I can share about my Christmas Eve.

Work released us early and I stopped by the Honolulu Post Office parking lot to run over to pay my electric bill. I quickly pulled into the only visible stall open and right in front of my car was a disheveled looking man holding a little piece of cardboard. I didn't really look at him, but chuckled to myself, that the only open space in the lot had a gentleman looking for assistance right in front of it. As I dug around my cup holder for quarters to feed the insatiable meter, I felt Blessed that I often find encounters so readily, and they are always memorable in some way or another.

I purposely didn't make eye contact, but noticed that a man exited the vehicle on my right, and handed what appeared to be a dollar bill to the gentleman with the cardboard. I peripherally saw the man in need, pat the man's hood several times as he bent over, then smiled a large crooked smile at this man while nodding his head up and down. It seemed like he expressed his appreciation by patting and caressing the man's car hood rather than patting and caressing the man's shoulder as he stood next to him feeding his meter.

I exited my car, and as I headed towards the rear to open the trunk, a woman speaking Japanese to her companion was trying to squeeze past me to get into her car which was on my left. I had to suck in my gut and turn sideways so we could both pass and not get wedged together. We both broke into large smiles and laughed as we passed each other. She was finely and elegantly dressed and she exclaimed, "Merry Christmas!" as she opened her car door and slid in. I responded, "Merry Christmas!" I felt so warm inside.

I opened my trunk and caught a glimpse of the man with the cardboard still standing in front of my car, as I figured he was waiting for me to come to the meter. As I dug around and found the things I wanted to take with me, I noticed peripherally, the Japanese woman rolled down her window a few inches and stuck a crisp dollar bill out. The man came between the cars and graciously accepted the money and then bounced his upper body up and down, almost like bowing, with a big smile on his face. I still didn't really make eye contact with him, or get a good look. I knew that would come soon enough as I took my time straightening out my trunk contents a little before closing the trunk itself.

As I came around the side of my car, making my way to the front to feed the meter, I looked at the man as he looked at me. He had his head down and looked up in little glances, with a humble smile breaking now and then. I read his little beat up cardboard sign with messy handwriting. It read: Deaf. Please help me if you can. God Bless..

I looked at his face, which was slightly contorted on one side and a little droopy. I thought maybe a stroke but wasn't sure. He also had strabismus, where his eyes looked slightly in different directions. His clothes were a little tattered and stained as well. His overall appearance led me to believe that Life had been very difficult, especially his childhood. He also presented a somewhat frightening sight for those who may be wary of strangers to begin with. I knew he couldn't help it however.

As I fed the meter, I opened my wallet and starting thumbing through it, while smiling at him and motioning him to come over to me. He was a little hesitant, as he stood about six feet away, and I kept glancing at him as I dug around, finding a crisp ten-dollar bill among my crumpled smaller bills and receipts jammed into the leather folds.

I held out my hand and he slowly came over to me, and reached towards me, grasping the bill, and bobbing his head up and down in thankfulness. He put his two hands together in a praying motion, while smiling, and I noticed he had teary eyes. He started talking, and I realized it was the somewhat incoherent speech of someone who was born deaf, or who lost their hearing while in infancy. He started getting excited and motioning all over the place.

He pointed to my wallet, then feigned holding a wallet while looking through it, then with his other hand, snatching his wallet and moving his arms like he was running. He looked at me pleadingly, shook his head from side-to-side, while saying "No...no...no...I don't steal wallet...people afraid." Then he pointed up to the sky, put his hands together in a praying motion, and smiled at me with more tears in his eyes. "Thank you...thank you..." he said.

He also mumbled some other things, that were too indecipherable for me, as he flailed his arms excitedly around, going back and forth between pointing to the Heavens, and putting his hands in a praying gesture. He presented such a sympathetic case for me, that I quickly felt an affinity to him. I smiled, gestured to him, while telling him, "I know you are a good man. Don't worry..." while hoping he could read my lips which he was intently watching. He shook his head again, up and down, while smiling and holding his hands against his heart." 

I looked at him, smiled, and said somewhat slowly, "It's going to be okay...I love you..." He smiled, said, "I love you too..." in his almost unrecognizable pronunciation, and then started shaking his head back and forth, saying, "I don't steal...I don't steal..." I moved forward and hugged him, and he patted my back lightly, still being a little standoffish and I realized that he smelled of immense body odor, and was probably self-conscious, thus the patting and caressing of the car hood rather than patting that man who gave him the dollar.

I had to go pay my electric bill before they closed on Christmas Eve, so I looked at my new friend one more time, as he still had tear-filled eyes, and my eyes began to tear. As he looked at me, he acknowledged my tears by making a sad frowning face and shaking his head back and forth, and pursing his mouth. I looked at his eyes, smiled, and said it again, "I love you..." He said "I love you too.." and we embraced. This time, however, I squeezed him tight, and he squeezed me tight. We hugged for what seemed like half-a-minute, oblivious to the many onlookers surrounding us, a strange sight to gawk at for sure. The only barrier between our two Hearts was a little cardboard sign, with scribbled hand-writing on it, now squished between our chests. I felt like I could have stood there forever as the feeling of elation and deep inner Peace swirled around putting me in a euphoric state, as if nothing else in the World mattered right then.

We released our bond and I patted him on the back, and said, "Hang in there brother..." He smiled through his tears, and said, "I will...I am a fighter..." as he motioned with his two hands, boxing in the air..."I am a fighter!" in his guttural pronunciation, while he broke into a great big smile. I smiled even larger, "You are a fighter...survive...." We waved goodbye, he blew me a kiss, and I turned to quickly make it to Hawaiian Electric. I felt so alive...

By the time I got across several streets and cross-walks, and made it to the office tower to pay my bill, the office was closed already for Christmas Eve.  I stood at the dark glass, my bill and check in hand, and shook my head. Then I thought of the blessing of even having electricity, and money to pay my bill. I chuckled as I looked at my own reflection in the dark glass, then began my journey back to the car, all the while, thinking about my new friend. I pulled out my wallet and began digging around, pulling out all the bills left, mostly small bills of fives and ones, as I walked on the sidewalk.

I happily folded them up, stuffed them into my shirt pocket for quick access, and walked back to the parking lot. When I arrived, I scanned the area for my friend, but to my dismay, he was nowhere to be seen. I had really wanted to Bless him with a little more money since Hawaiian Electric was closed, I figured that I had a little more disposable income that day, and much rather give my new friend a share, then the electric monopoly. I also realized that I didn't formally introduce myself to him, nor did I learn his name. That bothered me the most, especially after forging such a bond. It is the anonymity that keeps us from getting too close to those in need, that makes charity sanitized, as if we don't want to get too close or too personal and thus, bear a greater responsibility for our fellow man or woman once we know their names. I always try to get names now, although I admit I am so terrible at remembering them even right after being introduced.

After walking around the lot, I decided that my friend had probably gone to get something to eat and drink with his new found wealth. I certainly would in his shoes as he looked really worn out. I knew that I would probably see him again and truly look forward to that day...as just the thought brings a smile to my face and to my Heart.

As I drove home, I could still smell his body odor on my Aloha shirt, from our long embrace. However, instead of being repulsed, I actually treasured it. It is a smell that I only experience when I am close, and embrace someone living on the street. It isn't an offensive smell. It is a smell of Human Life. I know many are embarrassed by their street odor, and if they could wash it off, they would. If they could properly comb their tangled hair, they would. Wash their clothes. Change their underwear. All the things we take for granted. I have had many people on the street apologize for their smell, when I move in to embrace them. Even Beautiful Meredith. My amazing friend who lived on the streets for ten-years fending for herself, finally getting a roof and bed, only to die a few months later of insidious Cancer. I still remember her smell. A gritty womanly smell. Her oily hair that she brushed regularly but couldn't shampoo enough. Her smells elicit so many Beautiful Poignant Memories.

I have had more Life altering experiences getting this body odor smell on me. So it represents some of the most powerful Emotions, Gratitude, Blessings, Compassion, Hope, Faith, and Love I have ever experienced in this Life. I needed this encounter on the Eve of Christmas, much more than my new friend did. It makes me feel needed...at some deep buried insecure level. Way down deep inside the depths of a little boy who had many fears and insecurities, and who is spending a Lifetime trying to overcome them. Still trying to validate an existence...over and over.

So this pungent odor is the favorite Soul-enriching smell of my most memorable Christmases. Not pine needles, scented candles, and cinnamon...but body odor...from those who through their suffering, help to make my Life Worth Living. I am forever grateful. Happy Birthday Christ...

Friday, December 26, 2014

Love...


As my Father rests...
In between Worlds...
Neither here or there...
I quietly read to him...
His own words...
To my Mother...
Of his Undying Love...
Of Sweet Stolen Kisses...
In a Soliloquy of the Night...
Praying Faded Memories...
Sustain an Enraptured Heart...

Silence...


Poor Rusty getting the good old silent treatment from Violet...

Thursday, December 25, 2014

ʻŌiwi TV...


The wonderful talented crew of ʻŌiwi TV at the historic Hawai'i Theater filming the Kamehameha Schools Christmas Concert for 2014...

Solitude...


Welo...


Heritage...

Kamehameha Hawaiian Ensemble at Hawai'i Theater...


Blessed...


We are so Blessed...
To be so close to Nature...
And the Lush Verdant Beauty...
That Heals our Souls...

Afloat...


Through the Kindness we share...
And the Compassion...
And the Forgiveness...
And especially the Love...
We Keep Each Other Afloat...
And Alive...
In the Sea of Life...

Human...


I came across this photo tonight as I was going through my albums. As I was leaving Chinatown one night, I passed this gentleman pushing his shopping cart headed in the opposite direction. I was in a hurry, but pulled out what I had in my wallet and gave it to him. He smiled and thanked me profusely. I wished him a good night. I snapped this photo of him as we parted. I noticed that his spine was crooked and he was hunched over, laboriously walking and pushing his cart, with great strain. I said a prayer for him as I walked away...

I wouldn't see him again, or learn his name, for three years where a chance encounter led me to a conversation as we both walked in the same direction one late afternoon. I slowed my pace tremendously so he wouldn't feel rushed. He was self-conscious about holding me up with his hobbling. I noticed how people gawked at him or averted their eyes as we passed. Vehicles cut their left turn dangerously close to him down King Street, as if his Life was not important. I noticed his spine was much worse than when I first saw him. He lifted up his shirt and let me feel his misaligned vertebrae poking up against and almost through his skin. I really felt for him.

His name was Tony. We formally introduced ourselves to each other with a firm handshake. We spoke about his situation, his many regrets. How he had been attacked many times while sleeping on the street and had so much stolen. He even spoke of a temporary shelter on the North Shore where he used to live, but admittedly failed to adhere to all of the rules, and was evicted. I thought about how many rules in the past I have failed to follow, but it never resulted in a penalty that could cost me my Life. I listened and tried not to be judgmental. We walked for blocks as I pried him for information that I could use to possibly assist him.

He was worn out. He lamented that if he had the ability to get his back fixed a long time ago, he wouldn't suffer so much now. He said all he wanted was a safe place again. To sit in a comfortable chair or couch. To eat snacks and good food. To watch his favorite television shows. He talked about how his belongings and money often gets stolen. How the homeless population used to all know each other and help each other out on the street by trading necessities with each other, or outright sharing what little they had. Now he lamented, there are so many homeless people who just fend for themselves, or worse, steal what you have while you sleep.

I was unfortunately in a rush again, as it seems I have been in a rush for the past 20 years, not even coming up for air, so we stopped by 711 and I bought him food and drinks, and gave him extra money. I let him wait outside while I went in and shopped for him. He kept thanking me profusely, and then was showing me awful looking ulcering sores all over his legs, from insect bites while he slept. I gave him my telephone number and told him to call me sometime and I will see what I can do about helping him find a shelter. He wouldn't give me the name of any assigned Social Worker, or Human Services Unit that may have worked with him, or knows his history. He said they have given up trying to help him because he is admittedly difficult at times. I thought to myself, we can all be difficult at times. 

Tony never called me, and I never ran into him for quite some time, until I was driving and saw him standing hunched over on the meridian between traffic lanes about a year later. His back was even worse, as he is so hunched over now with scoliosis or some other degenerative disease, that he can't stand upright anymore. He survives by panhandling, and is always polite and appreciative.

People will see him hunched over in the blazing Sun and give him drinks or snacks as they drive up to him. They also give him money. It is how he survives. Shamefully, I haven't able to effectively assist him with housing as I had hoped. At least not yet. I check on him when I do see him, and help him with whatever I have on me. I know I can do more, but somehow I fail to do so. And I fail to do so with dozens of houseless people like him who I keep in contact with, as much as you can keep in contact with someone with  no phone, who often change their street address every night. Wanting to do so much for them, but ultimately not doing anything at all. All I offer him is money, food, drink, like everyone else. I tell him to hang in there, that I Love him, and keep the Faith. A little sustenance for his body, a little sustenance for his Spirit, but no sustenance for his Life...

The last time I saw him, he was on the meridian again, in the dark, hunched over on his walker. I knew about a month before, he had tripped on the curb and banged up his back and leg pretty bad. He had shown me when I visited him. Now, in the latest of the night, he was sleeping there, in the middle of the traffic, on the grassy dirt, exhausted, blanketed by nothing except the cold night itself, holding his plastic bags as many McDonald's cups with warm diluted sugary drinks sat around him. Undoubtedly given by a host of people, like myself, who can salve our conscience for a little while, with our compassion and generosity of Spirit, until Life snaps us back into our Reality, our Routine, our issues, our problems, our struggle to stay afloat in these trying times.

So we sit on our couches, eating snacks, watching our favorite shows, out of the Sun and Rain, safe from the street criminality, taking much for granted, seeking bigger, sharper, more colorful, louder, fancier, things in Life to amuse us, while Tony collapses and passes out on his bent crooked walker, with his bent crooked spine, with his collection of warm soda, his plastic bags of half-eaten stale bread sandwiches, dreaming of our couches, snacks and television shows...

Forgive me my Beautiful brother Tony. I really haven't done much for you...to alleviate your seemingly endless purgatory and suffering...

There just has to be a better Life than this...for you...and for us...

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Malia...


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas...


We put our Christmas tree up just in the nick of time. We are still decorating it and have a ways to go. I thought of dozens of reasons why we were too busy this Year to put up the tree, especially so close to Christmas and with everything going on right now.

However, I realized that we needed to. For this would be the last Christmas for my boys while their last remaining Grandparent, their Grandfather, is still alive. We pray he will see the New Year. Next Christmas, we know he will be celebrating Christmas by wishing Christ a Happy Birthday...in person...Face to Face...

Monday, December 22, 2014

Life...


The unpredictable rush and tumble of Life...

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Let Your Spirit Shine...



Kāhea...


I sat for several hours with my Father at his bedside, talking with his Soul at times, other times, quietly listening. In between, I was able to meet and thank the nurses, aides, and other beautiful workers helping to comfort and attend to him as the shifts changed. His labored breathing, gurgling and sporadic mumbling gave me much insight into what lay ahead for him with various decisions on treatment. His hand grasp is still strong as he wouldn't let my hand go, even in his ethereal sleep. I spoke to many loved ones on the other side of the Veil. Much like my Mother, they are arriving on this side for him already. The door is being opened. My job is to keep the Love and Light surrounding him. 

At one point, sitting in the darkness, I was transported back to my own battle at Queen's Honolulu in July of 2012. My physician recently reminded me how a brave surgeon, Dr. Pedro, saved my Life against incredible odds. I remembered how my beautiful late sister, Nālani, stayed by my side in the hospital, helping me survive, despite her own ongoing battle with Cancer. I spoke to her tonight, in Heaven sent whispers, amidst a flow of tears, letting her know how much she meant to me and how much I truly Loved and missed her. 

As visiting hours closed, I kissed my Father's forehead and left for my car. Walking through the mostly dark parking lot, I passed a family saying their goodbyes at their cars. I wished them a Beautiful Night and a Merry Christmas, to their warm and loving replies. There remains much Beauty and Good in this World. Then I saw a beautiful grey cat walk right between their legs as they stood talking and straight towards me, never breaking eye contact. I thought it was their pet as the cat was so calm and assured and came right up to me. They didn't seem to notice. The seemingly familiar cat and I locked eyes and I smiled, and said, "Bye Kitty!" as I walked to my car. 

Then I realized the familiarity. I quickly turned to look at the cat again, but it was gone. The people were in their car. Reverse lights were lit up. I was reminded of my Beautiful sister Nālani's cat, Akari, and how she loved that furry companion. Then I felt the presence of my sister, a beautiful affirmation that she received my heartfelt message, spoken in the presence of my Father, who she openly forgave on her own Deathbed, and I suddenly knew that everything is going to be alright despite my own fears. She knew exactly how to make her presence known. Thank you my Princess Nālani. And thank you my Queen Kaleleonālani. May you two embrace in the Heavens surrounded by Joyous Love and Light...

Queen Emma Kalanikaumakaʻamano Kaleleonālani Naʻea Rooke...


How do you even begin to express your Love and Gratitude to someone who cared about you, and loved you...long before you were born. Someone with such gracious foresight, that they helped set up a Healthcare system that would not only help save the lives of so many of your family and friends, but even bring you back from the clutches of Death...

Such Humbling Beauty...



Saturday, December 20, 2014

Solace...


I found some much needed Solace at the Royal Coconut Grove of Helumoa tonight in Waikīkī of all places.  A phone call from my Father's physician caught me off guard this afternoon and left me in the middle of Macy's Ala Moana trying to suppress wave after wave of tears. I quickly made my way to the store exit and through the crowds, desperately trying to hide my anguish. Last night, I had thought my Father was getting better and going to be discharged from the hospital this weekend. His fever returned.

It seems like his aspirational pneumonia came back as he can no longer distinguish between swallowing and breathing with his Severe Dementia. I may have to make one of the most difficult decisions in my entire Life. Leilani the social worker called me tonight about Hospice options. I pray I can connect with my Mother tonight for guidance in my dreams. I don't think I can do this alone...