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Kanikapila (Jam Session Island Style)

Updated: Jul 24, 2020

Ring...ring...I slowly awoke to the sound of my alarm and suddenly realized that I was somewhere else...HAWAII, also known as the Big Island!  

The plan for today was for us to go to a gather for celebration of life and later, visit with our Hilo family at a cousin’s home, but not before breakfast! I quickly got up to take a shower and to get ready for a busy day. After changing into a light blouse and jeans, I headed towards the kitchen. The smell of bacon sizzling in the oven, eggs frying on the stove, rice steaming in the cooker, coffee roasting on a hot plate was like heaven on earth! Yes, let’s eat!

Enjoying a meal with the Ohana (family) is an important part of life here in Hawaii. It is our way of connecting to one another like that of a garland lei, each individual flower or plant is uniquely different, but sewn together, we are a beautiful masterpiece! It was nice to catch up with my siblings and to see what was new in their, promotions, relationships, activities, etc.  

Before we knew it, the time had flown by. It was time to leave for the celebration. So off we went to the Hongwanji Mission. When we arrived, we could hear the rhythm of island music and the sounds of family and friends greeting each other and laughing together. We easily found our Hilo Ohana and showered them with lots of hugs and kisses as we shared our condolences for the loss of our beloved cousin. There must have been almost 200 people in attendance. The hall was beautifully decorated with green ferns, orange and blue bird of paradise, red ginger and pink anthuriums. There was a pupu (appetizer) table with some of our island favorites: soybeans mixed in garlic and soy sauce, grilled menpachi (fish), limu poke (raw fish mixed with chopped seaweed) and shrimp cocktail. On another long table, they were serving rice, Chinese noodles, pork and peas, squid luau (taro leaf in coconut milk), chicken long rice (oriental noodle), kalua pig (pork baked in an underground fire pit), mahi mahi (fish) and beef stew. Last, but not at all least, was a fully stocked dessert table! This spread included strawberry and chocolate parfaits, cupcakes, brownies, cookies, donuts and more!

Surrounded by family and friends, we enjoyed each other’s company and reminisced about the crazy things we used to do and the trouble we used to get into. We cried and laughed at all of our antics and after hours of reflection, the sun began to set and it was time to say goodbye.  

After leaving the party, we headed home to freshen up. Exhausted from the day's activities, we kicked back and relaxed for a few hours before setting off again! About 20 minutes later, we arrived at my cousin's beautiful custom built home. Everyone was gathered in his newly renovated garage port singing along to karaoke music playing on the big screen television monitor. A few hours later, we turned off the monitor and pulled out the guitars and ukuleles to Kanikapila (Hawaiian jam session)! Sadly, the night turned into the wee hours of the morning and it was time to say goodbye once more. With a renewed spirit and love for each other we bid farewell and promised to see each other again.  

Finally, back at home and snuggled under a warm blanket, I silently reflected over the previous day’s events and smiled. Yes, I thought to myself, these are the memories that will forever be in my heart! We ate, sang, laughed, cried and played music together and lifted each others’ spirits. This is the Spirit of Aloha (love) and what I love most about Hawaii.

A Hui Hou Kākou (until we meet again),

Island Girl



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