Tuesday, November 15, 2016

My Aunt for A Lifetime

This past couple of weeks, I have been saying my farewells and preparing for the earthly departure of a special woman in my life, my Aunty Ke-o.
About 30 years ago, I made friends with Ke-o's daughter, Nalia.We agreed back then, with all the wisdom that we possessed at 14/15 years old, that church was a waste of time. She had the task of babysitting her young nephew Ali'i, and I decided that I would have the task of watching her do it. We only saw each other at church, since she was a year younger, and went to a different high school than I did. But we caught up on our lives every Sunday while feeding and burping her nephew, away from the ever watchful eyes of my mother.
Well, life leads to life and a couple of years later, I had my own baby to watch at church. Nalia would come to pick me and Beenie up at my house, and the four of us would ride around in Aunty Ke-o's Orange Banger (so named for the color of the paint), smoking cigarettes and drinking cokes and analyzing life, as we knew it, at 16/17 years old. (The smoking of cigarettes and drinking of cokes were only done by Nalia and me, so don't call CPS folks.)
The car, the money for gas, the snacks and cokes, even the money for cigarettes, were all provided from this Aunt of mine. Granted, she didn't give us money for the express purpose of buying cigarettes, but she did let us use the car for hours and hours every day without complaint. The cigarettes were us being resourceful. LOL.
Flash forward to me and Beenie a few years after that. I had had a particularly nasty run in with my own mother, which ended with something like "Get you and your daughter's stuff and GTF out of my house!" To which I gladly said "I'm out." So, actually, that is a "verbatim" convo, not a paraphrase. Anyhow, I took my daughter, and with nothing but the shirts on our backs and not even money for bus fare, we walked the 2 miles to Aunty Ke-o's house. I was infuriated, shocked, hurt and so many other emotions. Aunty and Lehua-Nalia's oldest sister-were not home. So we just waited out in the garage until they returned. I was a hot mess, and Beenie was tired and hungry. I was trying to contemplate what I could possibly do to survive the next few months. Would I even have a place to live? Food for my kid? Where would we sleep?  Money to get to school? Money for Beenie's school? Where were going to sleep tonight?
About an hour later, I had almost given up hope and decided I needed to start walking back home before darkness hit. Thank goodness Aunty Ke-o and Lehua came home. Aunty took one look at me sitting outside and said "Why are you sitting outside? You know how to get in the house, don't you?" And with that, there was nothing else I needed to worry about. It was simple to her. Even though she could tell I had probably gotten into a fight with my mother, she wasn't going to let her nieces sleep in the park like some homeless family.
In that moment, the acceptance that I was given, was a refuge to my physical self and a balm to my broken soul. After years of living with my own mother, who constantly made me feel that I needed to redeem myself and repent of my SIN and that I wasn't as good as my siblings or worth anything, I was now living with someone who loved me as I was, and showed me in her actions the parental phenomenon known simply as "UNCONDITIONAL LOVE". 
The 2 months that I lived with them was the best thing that I didn't even know I was dying for.  I was fed, housed, clothed, transported and supported in all that I needed. And that was a critical time in my life. I had only 8 more weeks to go until my community college graduation. Aunty made sure I had bus fare, food for me and Beenie, and any other material thing I would need. Uncle was always asking if we needed rides, or washing done. And Lehua and Baby Lono took over the drives that I used to take with Nalia and Ali'i. In fact, the whole family even came to my college art show, with refreshments
I think about all the words of wisdom that Aunty Ke-o has shared with me over this 30 year span, and I'm overwhelmed with how intuitive she was from Day 1. She was able to help me because she knew just how to help me in a way that would be impactful and sustained. She knew the true person I was. She didn't have to guess . And I knew that she loved me. I never had to guess.
Aunty, I love you so much and I will miss seeing you. I will miss talking for hours and hours and hours. I will miss our little gossip girl time. I will miss laughing at things with you. I will miss your wise counsel to me about life, and love, and children and grandchildren, and choices. I will miss your fun personality. I will miss how cute you are with modern technology. I will miss your dedication to your family history. I will miss how spirited you always are to people. I will miss your sassy comments when you were irritated with people, and then us laughing about it right after. I will miss knowing you are here on this physical plane at the same time as me.
I love you and Thank You for loving me back.
Rest now. Rest your weary body. Soon you will be with your loved ones.
Please visit me in my dreams if you have a chance. And give me some gossip about everyone up there. LOL
Aloha Oe & Manuia lou Malaga.