G R A N D M A ' S S E R V I C E S
My Grandmother passed away July 2005 on the island of Mau'i at the age of 97. At her side was my Auntie Dorothy and a good number of my cousins. She did not go alone or un-loved.
Her ashes were interned at Diamond Head Cemetery December 13, 2005.
For me my Grandmother was my connection to Hawaii. I talked to her often on the phone when her health was good. She filled me in on all the little details of my father's childhood and her own being raised on Maui.
She schooled me in the mythology of my family and Hawaii. She was a self reliant person, and a role model for me. She showed me what it means to live with dignity. I will miss her.
My cousin Moana Beamer summed it all up in the eulogy she delivered during the services. I'm including her words below because I think she has capture in words the true essence of my GrandMother.
December 13, 2003 - Diamond Head
Welcome and Mahalo for sharing this time with us. I am Victoria Moanalani Beamer and I'm blessed to be here with you as one of the twenty grandchildren of Victoria Kamuela Kapuaala and a daughter of her only daughter, Dorothy.
On Behalf of our family and my Dear grandmother, I greet you in a manor appropriate to an occasion of gladness, of warmth and aloha shared. I know my Grama would approve. She would want us to understand, that all is well. (Psalms 118:23,) This is the Lord's doing, it is marvelous in our eyes This is the day which the Lord hath made - We will rejoice and be glad in it.
Grama was born on the island of O'ahu on the 24th of May, 1906 to Samuel Kaiu Leslie, a captain of the Mounted Police and Rosina Shaw Leslie, a devoted and resourceful wife and mother.
Grama was their second born and they called her Kamuela. She was named for her father who passed away, just two short years after her birth, leaving Great Grandma Rosina with their two daughters, Margaret and Kamuela.
After a time, Great-grandma remarried. The story goes that they she met John Frederick Freudenberg at the soda fountain of the Benson Smith Drugstore, here on Oahu where he was employed as a pharmacist. Grama's older sister (Auntie Dolly) had thrown some pepper in her face and she began to cry. He came to their aid, washing the pepper out of little Kamuela's eyes.
He fell in love, not just with Great-grandma Rosina, but also her two beautiful children. In due time he and Great-grama were married and they became a family, making their home on Maui, in the town of Lahaina where Frederick John worked in the offices of the Pioneer Mill. Eventually they were blessed with three more children: Olga, Paul & Helene.
Grama spoke with great fondness of these times growing up in Lahaina with her mother, her siblings and a much adored stepfather. Her mother seemed to me to be her heroine, to the degree that even Great grama's manner of scolding and correcting would elicit her admiration.
Well spoken, god-fearing, kind and wise are words she used to describe her. As a kid it was somehow a relief to discover that Grama and her siblings actually got into mischief and got "called on the carpet" from time to time.
Apparently Great-grandmother had a distinctive mezo soprano voice which she not only used to great effect in public performance but as an effective parenting tool. "Ka-mu-e-la!...Mar-gret! As grama would say, " if you hear your name sung out in such a voice it is impossible to ignore and you could hardly claim that you never heard her when she called"
Grama attended Kamehameha III School in Lahaina and Kamehameha School for Girls in Honolulu. She then found employment as a housemother at Kamehameha School for Boys.
It was sometime during this period, that, Grama made the acquaintance of a young man by the name of Ernest Kapuaala. Apparently, he spotted her tooling around in her Grandmother's Cadillac one day (and as my Husband likes to say, "Hanapa!" he was hooked.)
The chase was on. It didn't take long for her mother to get wind of this development and Grama's goose was cooked. Great-grandma Rosina was there as fast as the Haleakala would sail, having no trouble getting on as quickly as possible, since the captain of the ship was (Grandma Leslie's husband). Ernest Kapuaala put on his Sunday best and made his way to the home of Kamuela's Grandmother to meet her mother and ask for Kamuela's hand in marriage.
Her mother told him that if it was meant to be, it would be and shortly there after, Great-Grama and her Daughter sailed home to Maui in the Honeymoon suite of the Haleakala.
Ernest was going to have to earn his place in Kamuela's life and he was persistent, sailing back to Maui doing his best to convince Great-Grandma Rosina that he was meant for her Kamuela. Exactly what happened next is not quite clear to me, although Grandpa must have done some serious tap dancing because in 1925 on the 19th of April he and Kamuela were wed in a small ceremony in the home of her Auntie Martha. She was nineteen years old.
I suppose it was a blessing that Grandpa already had a steady job, although he was due to report to work on his wedding day. Grandpa was a fireman of course, four days on, four days off.
Despite the challenges of Granpa's work schedule, they managed to have six children. Ernest Samuel, Frederick Paul, Allen Huapala, Elmer Kalani, Dorothy Kuuleialoha and Raymond Kahawai.
Like her mother, Grama was a hardworking and devoted wife and mother who depended on the Lord a great deal to face the challenges of marriage and a growing family.
In 1936 the near loss of their baby girl, Dorothy, brought Grama to one of the most important associations in her life. As a child my mother had contracted double pneumonia and developed complications of bladder and kidney functions, the doctors told her parents that their One and a half year old would probably not survive.
With help of old and dear family friends, the Kalahiki's, Grama found hope and solace in the generous prayers of a group of people who would fast become her family and precious sustenance in difficult times.
My Mother's survival stands as Grama's testimony to the power of prayer and the beginning of an opportunity to serve god thru the Church of the Gospel of Salvation. Church activities and duties, Fellowship, Study, Sharing and Teaching grew steadily in importance and became an integrated and natural part of daily life, in all it's joys and sorrows.
Grama and Granpa raised their children in the Gospel and saw three of their six children wed in the church on Houghtailing Road. In time Grama was blessed with the opportunity to serve as a minister of the Lahaina branch of the Gospel of Salvation.
I finally made it on the scene by that time. A whole month old when we moved to Lahaina, the place and time where the sights, smells, tastes and sounds that are my memories of Grama began.
The things I think I really know about Grama are naturally the things that come through the eyes of a grandchild. They span the sublime to the ridiculous and remain rich and alive in my memory: Grama feeding stew and poi to my brother and I in our Lahaina kitchen, peeling a mango skin off in one long spiraling piece, mixing poi, cooking haupia, cutting sugar cane just right for munching.
Her mango seed (better than the Chinese seed store)- and all the stuff she knew how to make with mangoes. She was always moving, always something to do in hand. She could make almost anything from the sea into a wonderful meal, and create a world of magical things out of ordinary crochet thread- delicate pieces of her hand work laid out on our good furniture.
She knew plants, flowers and trees by name, and understood them well , so they flourished at her hands. It seemed she could stick any thing in the ground and make it grow (my hope and gods blessing, she always said, he's the one who did all the work).
She had a firm belief (much to the chagrin of at least two generations of children) in the healing power of Castor Oil, Epson salts, and enemas, and she was right of course, some of us were healed just thinking of these alternatives.
There was always a pack of violets in her purse for Sundays at church. She loved to sing, and always did so with joy and gusto, She was never shy about spanking or hugging. A kid could be minding their own business on their way out to play and suddenly she would scoop you up and tickle you and cover your face with kisses.
She used to style her hair in a soft bun. It was always surprising to see how really long it was. Sometimes when she was getting ready to go out, she would let it go wild for our benefit, turn up her eye lids and chase us down the hall, still she always went out the door clean and pressed, every hair in place.
In her late 60's she went wild - wore pants in public and had her ears pierced. She smelled really good, all the time and any place Grama was felt like home. Her seams were always straight, her stitches always neat, and she possessed a magical ability to remove any stain known to man.
She always kept valentines and letters long after you forgot that you sent them.
My cousins will testify to her obsession with shells, hunting for them on the beach for hours and how she would find the really neat ones in the place you just looked..... Sometimes she seemed to have eyes in the back of her head and knew just what you were thinking, could feel what you were feeling, good or bad.
I loved her down to your toes, tear up the eyes, lose your teeth laugh, and that she was not afraid to laugh at herself. She loved God and the beauty he made. She never stopped growing up and hoped always for goodness and better things for this world.
There is a story of a famous pianist And composer who once wrote a song in answer to his daughter's question about death. She wanted to know where people went when they died. He answered "They go into the hearts of the people that love them"
She is woven neatly and tightly in the fabric of all of our lives. In each of us, of the four generations she has left behind, she lives. We are grateful to you all, for taking time to join us in commemorating this most significant of milestones in Grama's life, her crossing, her passing, her journey home. (We invite you to share your reminiscences with us here this morning, or anytime in the coming days and weeks.) (Psalms 118:23,24)
This is the Lord's doing, it is marvelous in our eyes This is the day that the Lord hath made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. I know Grama is here with us, as she has always been and that she marvels at the distance she has come over the terrain of her life these past 97 years.
If she were able to converse with us at this moment, she might comment exactly as she did when I greeted heron the occasion of her 80th birthday. "Wow Grama! Eighty years!". To which she replied" (whistle)"
|© copyright 2004 by Richard Kapuaala|