Six degrees of separation among cousins in the Islands

8 06 2014

I got a Facebook message late last week from Boyd, who wrote, “Hey cousin, my wife and I will be on island for a wedding this weekend, and probably cruising your coastline Sat. AMish . . .” 

Yes, yes, I’ll be home, please stop by, here’s how to get here, etc., etc. Boyd and I have called each other “cousin” since we met at Iole in North Kohala for my family reunion (mom’s side) in 2012. Boyd is a folk historian and a wonderfully engaging storyteller. I’d asked him to tell our group about what life might have been like in the old days, and what he knew of the Chinese immigrants; and he wanted to hear our stories to add to his repertoire. We gathered at Kalahikiola Church near the old homestead where my mother and her 14 siblings grew up before the clan moved to Oahu.

After becoming acquainted we declared ourselves calabash cousins because his ancestors employed my ancestors, living on adjoining land divisions—Iole and Ainakea on Hawaii island. My aunties told me the children played together between the properties on both sides of a gulch.

Yesterday Boyd came to my island to visit me, and I felt like “Mom” was coming, so DH and I tidied up to make the studio presentable. I wasn’t sure exactly what time he and his wife Becky would arrive, so I planned lunch for four. I thought of the old days before the Information Age when families would call on each other, traveling distances to meet, to talk story (as we say in Hawaii) and catch up on all the happenings. These visits have evolved into Sunday night family dinner for many of us.

Yesterday’s Saturday lunch was a lot of fun. They did arrive just in time for lunch. We ate lupulu—a Samoan treat baked with taro leaves, corned beef, onions, tomato and coconut milk. We had poi, sweet potato, alae salt, Cathy’s inamona (Hawaiian kukui nut relish), and Joe’s chili pepper water.

Boyd and my DH, who you recall is a volunteer docent at the Bishop Museum, traded information on Hawaiian history while we women dutifully listened to stories we’d heard before. I heard Becky mention she was more comfortable with bodies and energy, that she left the storytelling to Boyd,  so when there was a break in the conversation I asked Becky, “Are you a healer?”

Boyd answered, “Yes, she is!” So with my experience as a Reiki Master and hers as a massage therapist and Healing Touch practitioner, we hit it off, and I was able to hear about the wonderful healing environment going on in Kohala.

Continuing to talk about people and places we knew throughout the afternoon, we revisited the family reunion Welcome Dinner two years ago held at Kahua Ranch and hosted by the owner Monty and his new bride Elly. They had invited our family over. “How do you know Elly?” Boyd asked.

“She’s my first cousin,” I said. “Her father and my mother were siblings.”

“Well, then,” Boyd gleamed with a twinkle in his eye, “we really are cousins — through marriage!” Indeed. It turns out that both he and Monty descend from common ancestors.

Copyright 2014 Rebekah Luke



Lunch with my Chinese cousins

5 05 2011

Incidentally, I am an only child, but I have many cousins. This is my newest cousin who I know of (apologies if there is one younger)—Keanu with his father David, who are relatives on my mother’s side. Isn’t he adorable?

David and Keanu

His origins are Asian (dad) and European (mom). He and dad stopped by to say hello to four of my first cousins and me at lunch today in Waikiki.

All of our mothers were sisters. My mother Fo-Tsin was the youngest. In all, my Jau Po (grandmother) had 15 children, so there is a lot more to this family. As I said, I have many cousins. Pretty soon we’ll have a reunion.

MY COUSINS. Left to right: Eileen, the eldest of my generation and daughter of Aunty Edna; Claire, visiting from California and daughter of Aunty Alma; Millie, daughter of Aunty Lois; and Audrey Helen, daughter of Aunty Inez and grandmother of Keanu (see accompanying photo)

Copyright 2011 Rebekah Luke

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