My Grandma has much to reflect upon as she has been blessed with 93 years of life, all of them on Oahu, Hawai'i. She is my hero and has taught me more about life than any other person I know.
My Grandma is second generation, Hawai'i-Japanese Nisei born 1918 at Opaelua Sugar Camp in the hills above Haleiwa. Her family originally came from Mainland Japan in the early 1900's as migrant workers destined to toil in the vast sugar cane fields of central and northern Oahu.
She quickly learned English, Pidgin English, and Japanese all as her own native tongue. She lived among other cultures in the camps including Filipino, Portuguese, and Chinese.
My Grandma has seen Hawai'i's booming sugar and pineapple industry and subsequently rose from humble plantation camp life along with her 10 sisters and her brother.
She has experienced Hawai'i as a territory of the United States and watched as the "Big Five" slowly took their powerful grip of the Islands.
My Grandma has witnessed the Dec. 7th 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor from a Saimin stand less than a mile from the U.S.S. Arizona. She was paralyzed in fear as a bomb dropped from a Japanese Zero struck the street in front of the restaurant yet did not explode. After this infamous day she lived in subsequent martial law as her picturesque Oahu quickly became a military fortress almost overnight.
My Grandma has enjoyed Statehood since 1959 and continues to marvel in Hawai'i's modern evolution and continuous never-changing Aloha Spirit.
But most importantly of all, she met my Grandpa, another Hawai'i-Japanese Nisei from Kaua'i and settled into a quiet neighborhood in Kaimuki where she spent most of her life. In turn she lovingly raised my Mother as well as her Grandchildren and worked hard to ensure we had a future.
This day at Kawailoa she sat watching the waves and the sun as it set through the clouds and over the ocean. I could not help but notice the true peace, joy and gratitude on her face as she reflected on the blessings of life her 93 years in Hawai'i have brought her.
My Grandma then smiled for me and my camera as I feebly attempted to capture even a split second glimpse into her wise and persevering spirit....