Wednesday, November 17, 2010

She said, "It's a beautiful day for a funeral, Nana"

Actually, it wasn't a funeral on Sunday, it was a memorial and a celebration of my husband's life, but U'i is 7 and to her it was a funeral though she has never been to a funeral.

It was a beautiful day.  My daughter and her boyfriend spent the morning cooking and U'i and I hung out watching them and talking.  Rachel asked me if I knew what I was going to say.  I told her  I had no idea but that it would come to me at the right time.  U'i informed us that she had prepared a speech and she had written it down.  She found her Hello Kitty Clipboard and attached her speech and hunted up some paper to make a "sign in sheet". 

This kid always amazes me.  She had no one showing her to do these things, but obviously she had been thinking about it.  U'i is a deep kid, we always have thought she was 7 going on 57, just an old soul.  She would not let us read her speech at that time, so we had no idea what she was going to say.  I wasn't worried though, I knew it would be special.

My sister came by and Rachel gave Beck and U'i a "secret" task.  I had to leave the house so they could discuss this task and only allowed to come back after Beck and U'i had left the premises.

A couple hours later it was time to head out.  The memorial was at David's favorite beach, Ala Moana, specifically in an area called Magic Island. David liked going to this area because the park here has sidewalks throughout and it was easy for him to navigate in his wheelchair.   The setting is beautiful, and there always some people fishing off the shore,  others enjoying a picnic, kids and adults throwing frisbies or walking their dogs,  skateboarders, bikers, joggers, kite fliers,  just people out enjoying this paradise of Hawaii. 

David came out here often even though we live on the other side of the island.  He would catch the handivan and spend the day here.  Talking to strangers and I discovered later, he also ran into friends many times on his ventures.  He didn't always go alone, this is one of our favorite beaches too and we often spent the day here with him.  But for lone trips, this was David's favorite hangout.

On the way to the beach, we stopped to get my sister and U'i.  They had finished their secret project and proudly showed it to me.  They had gone to Walgreens with a flash drive filled with pictures and had made the most wonderful memory book of David.  I cry just thinking about it.  They had made several copies for other members of the family not able to join us for this memorial AND a bunch of single sheets of pictures and a journal entry that U'i had written and the Army newsletter bio of David.  These single sheets were to be handed out when U'i had guests sign in on her sign in sheet. 

As we drove to the beach, looking at the book and photos, everyone in the car was sobbing, when we weren't laughing over some of the silly pictures and the adorable captions U'i had authored.

The day WAS beautiful, perfect weather, sunny with a nice trade wind coming off the ocean.  We found a good spot under a shady tree and filled up an empty picnic table with food, drinks and paper goods for eating and drinking.  We tied our bouquets of helium balloons to a near by pole to mark the location for the coming guests. 

Slowly people began to come, they added their dishes to the potluck and we all hung out and "talked story" about who we were and how we knew David.  U'i handed out pictures and made people sign in on her clipboard.  It was very informal and people arrived slowly, on Hawaiian time, we had said 3pm, but it was after 4 when the last guests came.  Some people had brought leis, some for me to wear, some for later,  for our goodbye to David.  

After the last guest came, U'i took over.  Informed us that it was time to gather in a circle.  By this time our friend Bun and her husband had provided plastic chairs from her work for us all to sit under the shady tree.  My sister Beck led in a prayer of thanksgiving for David's life and to bless the food we would eat.

U'i took over from here.  Asking people what they would like to say about David.  Several shared their thoughts and feelings about this man, my husband.  Many expressed how he was not a complainer, how he did not have a "poor me" attitude.  One of the volunteers from the Army Museum that David also volunteered at,  shared that though his nickname for David was "Shorty", he always thought Dave stood tall, and cast the longest shadow of anyone he knew.  Many shared how David always spoke of his love for his family and for me, his wife.  Some stories were funny, some of the words brought tears to our eyes. 
One of U'i's teachers had come.  She shared how she was so moved by the bond that U'i and her Papa had because she had a sister who had lived most of her life in a wheelchair.  This sister had been a  cheerleader and had broken her neck in a fall during a cheer.  Mrs. Buck's sister had then been confined to a wheelchair and Mrs. Buck had seen how people looked at her with fear, or avoided looking at her at all.  She spoke of how those many years ago, anyone with a disability was treated "differently".  She was touched by the love U'i always showed David.  Touched by seeing her riding around on the back of his wheelchair and her obvious acceptance of him.  How she would see U'i urge her friends that showed fear when seeing Papa for the first time to come meet him, take a try at riding on the wheelchair. 

U'i pretty much MCd the whole afternoon. Introducing each speaker, and leading with applause when they finished.  She read her prepared speech and added some more thoughts. She introduced me, her Nana, the wife of David. She introduced her mother, Rachel, David's daughter. 
 She directed us to go get food when we were done speaking and afterwards she led us to the water.  U'i told us how earlier she and Mrs. Buck had tossed the rose her teacher had brought into the waves and watched it float away and how when they looked up, there was a rainbow. U'i said that rainbow was Papa smiling at them.  U'i then led the other guests to throw the leis or other flowers they had brought into the ocean and we each silently said our goodbyes as the flowers floated away.  U'i then helped distribute the green and white helium balloons to each person and we watched them float up into the heavens and shortly after that, the sun slowly sank into the ocean.  Goodbye David, my love.........


  1. it is so beautiful I am crying
    what a wonderful way to celebrate a life

  2. I am all choked up. Even though the circumstances are so sad, what a beautiful experience for all of you to have shared together. Again, so very sorry for your loss Kat.

  3. How beautiful and so sad. I am so glad you have such a wonderful granddaughter. I hope to see her again. My sister lost her battle with cancer on Nov. 14. No more pain. I am not going to the services, as it is in VA. I am okay with that because we had a nice visit making donuts and painting flowers. I am not in a good place right now. Have a group hug for me. I love you all.


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