3 February 2013
Rose Mary Ku’ualoha Landon Mahelona August 9, 1929 – February 3, 2013
Some memories can be painfully pale, flat and just beyond my frustrated grasp, while others are brilliant, substantial and intense. They can be molded to serve as a means of escape or formed into something that amounts to nothing more that wishful thinking. Isolated memories merge with others to become something greater, more meaningful, more gratifying, more perfect. But my favorites are those that remain simple, the ones that require no analysis and exist neither to enlighten nor absolve, but simply to make me smile and laugh all over again. Today, my Grandma died and my memories of her are bright and colorful like the flowers she grew, musical like the tunes she hummed and rhythmic like the Hawaiian she spoke. Rose Mary Ku’ualoha Landon Mahelona was the Grandma who delighted in song and sweet things to eat; who sang her sweet songs to us, wrote poems about her grandchildren, and nurtured our mixed heritage with stories of Bible heroes and Ka’ahupahau, shark goddess of Pearl Harbor and her childhood home Waiawa. She was the Grandma who pressed military-grade creases into my Kamehameha Schools uniforms and taught me to drive stick shift on the rolling foothills of Diamond Head, my giggling siblings in the backseat; who took us to The Mainland, to Disneyland and to The San Diego Zoo, with its two-headed snake; and who coaxed beautiful orchids from rusty old coffee cans, plucked tiny pakalana blossoms from the back yard to be strung into leis upon our return to Hawai’i, and who always left a vivid lipstick print on our young cheeks before catching the Waikiki bus to work at her beloved PK, The Princess Ka’iulani Hotel. My kind of memories, my kind of Grandma. Aloha Grandma.
(Photo: Spreading rose petals on White Rock Lake)