Of the 7 people in this photograph... only four remain. Of all the photographs I own, this one is one of the most important ones to me and would be one of the first things I'd grab if I ever had to leave my home like so many others have had to this year, due to earthquakes, fires and flooding.
This morning, I picked it up and looked at it for a long time. Most of the time, when I do that... I am looking at my father's face; it's so dear to me. That's him on the far left, next to his mother. Today... I was looking at her though...the only woman in the picture, surrounded by her husband and sons. I can see a bit of her staring back at me from the mirror. Those genes passed from my grandmother, then to my dad and his brothers, and finally on to me and all their children, and again, on to my children.
I couldn't stop thinking about her or searching her face. Wanting so much to sit with her and hear her laugh and talk story again; tell me about my dad, like his sisters do now... but from a mother's perspective. I know my dad loved her very much, and she, him. Somehow, I feel like she would understand where I'm at right now, without judgement. I lived with her for a month when I was 19. I used to lay in bed and watch the little lizards climb up the whitewashed boards in my bedroom and think about my life and where it would lead. It always leads back to that place, where her little home sits looking over Mokoli'i Island, in the shape of a chinaman's hat and the smell of her favorite gardenias is somehow imprinted on my heart.
My Mansinon Ohana is spread far and wide. I miss them. But my dad will be here later this week and a part of all of them will be with me then. I will cherish every one of those moments. Truly.
We'll sit under the old willow tree and talk about my grandma and a little bit of her will come home to me on the wind. And we'll sing our old favorite song together, like we always do.
My friend Freddy says that in November you can see what the heart feels. Such truth.
See you soon, dad. I love you. And loving you lets me keep loving her. Come and pour yourself on me...