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July 6, 2008

Trip to Hawaii - Day 2

July 5 It's Saturday AM. I've had only a few hours of sleep and I need some Lion Coffee. Gotta have my Lion fix. After all, I am in Hawaii. Mom and I were up until 1:00 am talking about Grandpa's condition and Grandma's drama. I know Mom has been helping Grandpa out since she arrived here in May. I can tell from our conversation that she, Auntie Norma, and Uncle Ted are emotionally and physically drained. The doctors basically have no hope for improvement for Grandpa and it's just pain management until God decides when he comes home. I feel saddened by that. I don't want Grandpa to suffer. He is a good man. He doesn't deserve to suffer. We hopped into my Dad's Ford Mustang and took an early morning drive to Kalihi from Waipahu. Still dang humid. Oh, tradewinds where have you gone? I noticed a lot more graffiti along the freeway. I noticed a lot more closed businesses, empty buildings. Things don't look as clean as I remember. I can see effects of the recession hitting Hawaii. I'm still not ready to move back here yet. Saturday PM. I spent the day with my father-in-law today. We caught breakfast at a drive-in on Waiakamilo and I enjoyed a loco moco. I hadn't had one of those artery-cloggers in years! Yummy. We headed to Lion Coffee down the street from the drive-in, only to discover it was closed. Hmmm....no hours on the door. We'll come back later. I knew I had to bring the kids some goodies from Hawaii so we headed over to the swap meet at the Aloha Stadium -- the best buys for cheap! Today is the best day for me to go because the swap meet is only open on Saturdays, Sundays, and Wednesdays. Picked up lots of Hawaiian-style t-shirts for the kids, li hing mui pineapple (for me), and some other souvenirs. They're ready for school now. Dad picked up some pan flute CDs and a purse for Anna. After walking around in the 90 degree humidity for 3 hours (Thanks Dad for indulging me at the swap meet!), we hopped in the car and headed back to the Lion Coffee. STILL CLOSED! I even 411'd the darn place. Their answering machine said nothing of being closed today. So what if it's the day after the 4th of July. Dad asked me where I wanted to go and I asked if we could take the scenic route to Ala Moana. We drove along Nimitz Hwy. and I reminisced about the old Vietnamese fishing trawlers docked at the harbor. We traversed past my old office near Fort Street Mall and Restaurant Row (I can't believe Sunset Grill is gone!) and drove by the new UH Medical School in Kakaako. Wow. Things have changed some. We talked about eating lunch at Ward Centers, but opted to go to Shirokiya at Ala Moana Shopping Center instead. Yummy Japanese food! I totally went bonkers over the okazuya. I definitely would not be able to find this in St. Louis. I indulged in karaage (fried chicken), namasu, and potato salad. Topped it off with sweet potato tarts. Dad and I caught a live informercial of a whole green tea grinder. The woman gave us free samples, and we were sold. I love being a tourist. Japanese blossom painting at Shirokiya, Ala Moana Shopping Center. This painting has been here for as long as I can remember. You can see it as you go up and down the escalators. It deserves a picture. This is for you, Noha! The koi ponds at Ala Moana Shopping Center.
We called it a day and drove back to Lion Coffee. STILL CLOSED. I give up for today.
Dad dropped me back to Kalihi and we had a prayer mass with a priest from the hospice. This is the first time they called the priest over. Thank God. I think everyone needed him there.
We gathered in Grandma and Grandpa's small room -- about 30 of us -- and prayed over Grandpa. Grandpa doesn't look as strong as he used to, but he is still trying to walk around and is able to talk to us. During the prayers, the priest said if there was anything we wanted to say to Grandpa it was a good time to do so. The great-grands went first, telling Papa they loved him.
The grands (me and my cousins) went next. Renato went first. The rest of the cousins hesitated a little. I went next. I hugged Grandpa and gave him a kiss on the forehead and told him thank you for everything he had done for us and that without him none of us would be here. Here was Grandpa, strangely weaker than as I always remembered him to be, pale and in pain, and all of us gathered around him praying. I was overcome with emotion while I spoke and I couldn't hold back my tears. I don't know if anyone aside from Grandma had cried up to this point, but I did. I had to leave the room. I headed for the bathroom and when I came out, everyone was crying. Great. Look what I started.

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