Monday, January 3, 2011

The Spirit of Aloha

I've spent a lot of the day on the phone with Hawaii.  This morning, I called the cemetery to arrange for my parents' upcoming memorial service.  I talked to 4 or 5 people before I found the person with the answers.  But every one of those 4 or 5 people were so enjoyable that I would have been happy to talk to them for a LONG time.  Over the past 6 months, since my dad died, I've talked to A LOT of people, under many different circumstances, who have expressed concern (sometimes sincere, sometimes not so much) over my loss.  But in the 10 minutes I spent on the phone with those 4 or 5 people I felt so much love and sincerity that I just wanted to give them all a great big hug before they transferred me on to the next one.  

I'm pretty sure it's that Aloha Spirit.  People are just warm and inviting there.  Just the sound of their voices made me LONG to be back in the Islands with "my people."  And it also made me think that I totally need to embrace that warm and inviting part of me and bring it back with me when I come home from this trip.   My life on the Mainland has made me too uptight.  :)

When I did eventually talk to the person I needed, we had quite a lengthy conversation as she asked for all of my parents' information.  Then she needed MY information.  And here's the part where I knew I was talking to the Land of My Inheritance...

Lady on the Phone:  What is your name?
Me:  Haunani 
and then BEFORE I had a chance to spell it, she said, "and your last name?"  It was like I had said my name was Jane.  
Me:  Oh, I don't need to spell that for you, do I?
Lady on the Phone:  Nope (I could hear her smiling.)

I don't know that I've ever felt more giddy with delight.  You have to realize that in my ENTIRE life, there has never been a time when I have given a stranger my name (especially on the phone!) and not had to spell it, and then spell it again, and then explain its origin, and then spell it again.  ugh!

When I was a little girl, I hated that.  I hated that teachers could never pronounce my name.  I hated that kids (and some adults) turned it into some goofy song or rhyme.  I hated that NO ONE could ever spell it correctly.  So in 2nd grade, I decided I was done with the grief, and one day chose to use the name I WISHED my parents had given was a beautiful name that everyone already knew how to pronounce and spell.  I just knew that if I were VERONICA my life would be perfect.  Without any notice, I started writing it on all of my papers, and not answering to that other name anymore.  That didn't work for very long.  My teacher wrote a note to my parents at the end of the week with concerns about my sudden identity crisis...UGH!  

Over the last 40 years, I have come to at least respect the fact that my parents loved my name and that it's not such a bad thing having a name that is unique and different.  But because it doesn't happen often, I'm always instantly drawn to the people who make an effort to find out how to pronounce it correctly, and if you can SPELL it, are most likely seared forever in my heart.   So now the Lady on the Phone is forever seared in my heart.  I can't wait to hug her.     
I have been cautiously excited about this trip.  It's not exactly your typical "trip to Hawaii", but after today, I felt like I could relax a little about the whole thing, and just start looking forward to it.  I'm so grateful for the warmth and kindness that I heard today on the phone.  Hopefully that Aloha Spirit is innate in me somewhere and I'll be able to keep a little of it with me even after I'm back on the "mainland."



  1. You have ALWAYS had the warm, inviting, ALOHA spirit my friend! And I'll have you know that I worked very hard 27 or so years ago to learn how to spell H-A-U-N-A-N-I.

    Glad you're moving forward on the memorial, and you SHOULD be able to be excited about the trip. Yes, it will be a little sad, but there will be warmth and happiness, too.

    Love you, How-na-nee!

  2. You've been on the "forever seared" list for a LONG time!!

  3. I'm so sorry about your loss! I love you story about talking to people in Hawaii. Since Adam spent his freshman year at BYU Hawaii and we went to visit several times, I can understand you missing that island feel. Even Adam learned to relax more there and not take things so seriously. PS I have always loved your name, it really fits you!