Wouldn’t Miss it for the World (literally)

Originally, it was our plan to not touch down on US soil for all of 2009. As it turned out though, there was an event we felt we just didn’t want to miss out on. I mean, how often does your grandpa join the centenarian club? So we hit the pause button in Southeast Asia and flew to Oahu for 6 days to join with friends and family.
We stayed in Waikiki in a beautiful hotel. That’s right, that’s “H-O-T-E-L,” not “h-o-s-t-e-l.” Fresh flowers on our bathroom towels welcomed us. Come to think of it, we were geeked even that bathroom towels welcomed us. We flushed toilet paper right down the toilet with seemingly reckless abandon. There was wonderful refrigeration and we bought juice and poke to take full advantage. But the best part about the hotel was that it was 2 blocks from my sister and parents. After not seeing them for nine months, I now saw them daily. And I got to see my sister at least this once during her pregnancy.
We all, along with other family, flew in to celebrate my grandpa’s 100th birthday, which is really just an excuse to celebrate my grandpa. He’s a gentle man with an endearing, playful sense of humor. And though living to 100 is a feat in itself, it’s my grandpa’s quality of life that makes me smile. For one, he out ate me at my aunt’s dinner. And he needs all of that fuel, since he still dances and gardens. And into his nineties he swam, played tennis and drove a stick shift car with a spoiler in the back. It’s that never-ending lack of activity that I usually think of when I need to shoot down my own self-doubts. When I ran my marathon a few years ago, he was the inspiration.
After a family dinner, we sat around my aunt’s dining table. The grandkids made party favors for the upcoming celebration, and my mom and her 2 sisters were doing the seating chart. I remember thinking that I love seeing my mom interacting with her sisters. It all seems so happy and effortless. I get a glimpse into another part of her-as a sister. Maybe that’s why I think she looks even more complete whenever I see her with my aunts. I looked over to my grandpa and realized I wasn’t the only one whose attention they had caught. My mom’s and aunt’s laughter filled the area just as the house was filled with my grandpa’s daughters, son-in-laws and grandchildren. And as my grandpa looked on at his daughters and family that surrounded him, his eyes blurred from tears that swelled in them. But even they couldn’t obscure for him his legacy, our family patriarch.
Happy Birthday Grandpa.

Posted: October 9th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Hawaii | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments »

6 Comments on “Wouldn’t Miss it for the World (literally)”

  1. 1 Mary said at 8:36 pm on October 9th, 2009:

    No you could not have missed that celebration for the world! Wonderful story..

  2. 2 Linda Saito said at 10:52 pm on October 12th, 2009:

    I am so glad that you and Mari were able to make this “detour” to be here for Grandpa’s birthday celebration. It meant a lot to him and to all of us. This is a beautiful story and tribute to Grandpa; I’ve printed out a copy for him.

  3. 3 Annette Lee said at 6:15 pm on October 13th, 2009:

    Ten months into your journey and I just now learned about this “comment” thing! Well, better late than never! This blog is such a beautiful tribute to grampa and I was so touched by it, I could barely get through it for all the tears obscuring my vision. I asked Auntie Linda to print it out for Grampa to read…I know it would mean a lot to him. You have a gift of putting into words and expressing so elegantly what we are feeling. Mahalo nui loa.

  4. 4 Jen said at 6:47 pm on October 13th, 2009:

    Ahhh, I’ve got tears in my eyes. Happy birthday to your Grandpa!

  5. 5 Unk Carl said at 5:47 am on October 14th, 2009:

    Hey Nephew,

    How are you folks doing? It was soooooooooooo great seeing you and Mari again after such a longggggggggggggg time. We need to get to gather more often after ya all finish your trip.

    Jeff, that was a great tribute to your Grandfather that you wrote. Heck I even had tears in my eyes (That is just between you and me, we won’t tell the rest of the family OK).

    Have I ever told you that you are my favorite Nephew? Well………you are!!!!!!!!

    Jeff, you and Mari please be careful on your travels.

    Love and miss ya all abunch!
    Your ol’ Unk Carl :o)

  6. 6 Lynette Bennett said at 5:42 pm on October 14th, 2009:

    What a beautiful tribute to your grandpa and our dad. I loved your observations at Linda’s dinner.

    It was great to see you and Mari. Enjoy the rest of your adventure and be safe.

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