Celebration of the Life of Grandma Rose Mahelona

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(Photo: Great Granddaughter Chloe Rose Nanea Storm)

April 2013

The first things I saw upon arrival at Grandma’s Memorial Celebration were the handwritten signs reading “No Parking on Wildflowers ~ Mahalo.” Beyond the signs, Malia’s & Matt’s spread was awash with Texas’ annual bloom. Grandma the Lover of Flowers is surely pleased with them on this day. As we make our way to the far side of the house, Kelli and Nanea are setting orchids afloat in the cement pond. Before the day was out, many a keiki would tightrope along the edge, hoping to accidentally fall in. Grandma’s photo is draped with maile from Hawai’i, and Nani has returned red-eyed and sneezing from the pollen-laden meadow with a box full of pickings. The small centerpieces created from this collection of weeds and blossoms were works of art.

The arrival of guests was like watching an old reel-to-reel of the family’s 41 years in Texas. Close friends, family really, from every era of these four decades turned the day into one big family reunion. Everywhere I turned I found another face to make me smile and laugh at the remember-whens. Some I hadn’t seen in ten years or more; others I saw just the day before. It was both a memorial to my Grandma and a tribute to my Mom and Dad. They’ve touched so many lives and we kids have been the beneficiaries in so many ways of the relationships our parents have formed.

There is nothing that can make me homesick more quickly or choke me up so completely as a hula dancer. Nothing holds my attention like the sight of my Mom and sisters on stage. On this day we were blessed with the presence of hula girls and musicians representing the many years my folks have been involved with Hawaiian entertainment. Musicians and dancers from their earliest professional incarnations in the 1970s to the dancers of Mom’s current halau, Na Pua o Ku’ulei. Hawaiian music and dance offer the quickest way home.

There were many special and memorable moments during Grandma’s passing and during her Memorial. But the most poignant for me was the appearance of Mom’s youngest dancers, among them her granddaughter/our niece/Grandma’s namesake: Chloe Rose Nanea Storm. When, during the introduction, I saw Nanea reach up and wipe away a tear, my emotional control was lost, as was that of many others, I suspect.

And then the little hula girls danced and made us all smile again.

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