Monday, May 9, 2016

Legacy from rootlet or seed?

This is the morning after Mother's Day, 2016. I have been awake for hours appreciating the wonderful gifts of being mother to a gloriously evolving son. We skype-gathered and chatted, simply hanging out with each other. He sang, and strummed on his ukulele and a borrowed guitar from a friend of a friend. We shared bits of happenings from this side of the Pacific, Pete checked on his work habits and tossed a few cautionary tales into the mix of conversation. My son told us about life on his side of the Pacific. One dose of an hour's worth of aloha, and a little gossip. Thanks Internet goddesses. I napped after that dose of son, circling under the covers to relish the company and could easily have slept the night through.

But, I woke listening to Pete walking back and forth along the simple track between our Quonset, and the outside oven. He was making his meal; I had already eaten my chicken pot pie, pre-baked and still hot from our town market. So ... even as I was drowsy, I threw back the warm quilt, climbed down the three steps, under our Dragon Mama and her Red Umbrella, and crossed to the Quonset to join him.

Opening the Quonset door the smell of onions filled the room. I sat here in front of the keys and the screen, and just sat and Pete came in with his onion-rich turkey loaf. We chatted. He ate. "I'm ready to go horizontal," I said. The full day of sending and receiving greetings to and for mothers had filled me up.

The computer started RINGING. The skype camera lit up. It was my son with a second, and unexpected, dose of aloha. He was calling from the graves. He was there at the CALIZAR place at the foot of the Ko'olaus with a can of Bud for his grampa, and a slice of custard pie for his gramma. That roofed portable chair was set up, I saw the rusty orange rectangle of a roof first. For one more dose of aloha my son brought me and Pete to be with my Ma for our day. We, my son and I, sang E KOLU MEA NUI together, telling my folks that love is still the most important thing.

"There's a black chicken wondering around." He pointed the camera so we could see her.

"She'll probably come for the custard pie after you leave."

"Yeah." Wild chickens and families of feral cats make the cemetery home. When my sister-in-laws comes for her walks there are dozens of both keeping her company as she climbs the hills, stopping to visit my brother.

There's a legacy that persists. You can't predict which ones will be the legacy that strings consistently forward. My son was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest where the practices of grave visits is not baked-in. It's different in Hawaii. While Pete and I lived on O'ahu we had a chance to restore that legacy of sitting with my folks, and included my son in those visits.

Singing at the graves of family with the help of the technology that they could not have imagined is one of the layers of unexpected legacies that lie just under the surface. In the chants of my Kanaka ancestors, the rootlets of legacy lie in wait. In Ka Honua Ola I read about the little-known male entity Moemoea'ali'i who represents the offspring that lie waiting to be exposed once again. "Moemoe," in this instance, means to lie in wait; "a'a li'i" are the small rootlets from which new growth spouts. Many of the 'ohi'a trees that intially take root on a new eruption do so because of rootlets left in the ground. 1

The 2012 video and interview of Robin Wall Kimmerer (I'm not sure where this takes place but guess that it is near the site of Mount St. Helen's in Washington state), one of my most loved Earth Teacher/Mother speaks of biological legacy. Her message watered me with the voice, plumping my heart with hope and direction. Though I am not there at the site of my parents' graves, my son is. He knows what to do there. He knows how to respect and care for those who care and cared for him. He does remember them, even though his grampa passed in 1983 when he was not yet eleven years old. He knew. Tutu Man liked his beer. For better or for worse, the beer is just part of the legacy. He also knew his Tutu Lady could play a mean piano. I have a memory of my son turning the pages of sheet music as Ma played.

Legacy from rootlet or seed, the message is clear: Just plant them.

1 Ka Honus Ola "Mo'oku'auhau", Pua Kanaka'ole Kanahele. Rootlets lie in wait gives me a vivid image to water my nearly refreshed poet-mothering genes. 

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