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A Place To Call Home......
Dedicated to My Mother, Kieko
Submitted by Kathy
Sometimes the best gifts in life come when you least expect them. After my mother passed away, I took a trip to Hawaii in hopes of finding peace. What I found was so much more!
My mother had suffered a horrifying battle with cancer and I was her sole caretaker during what seemed like a merciless year. Although I wouldn't trade a moment of that precious time spent with her, it seemed to drain the life from me too. Watching the strongest person I had ever known succumb to such a debilitating illness was heartbreaking.
My mother was an immigrant from Japan and raised two children by herself while working and going to school. This was not an easy thing to do back in the 1970's when prejudice ran rampant in my neighborhood. We were the targets of many people's hateful remarks. As children, my brother and I were teased constantly. Although both of us were born in the United States and were half Caucasian, we looked different than the other kids, and that made us stand out as targets. I remember the kids in the neighborhood harassing and spitting on my brother just because he was Asian. We both grew up resenting our ethnicity and wished that we could just "fit in" better. Everything from the foods we ate to the décor in our house was eyed as strange to even our closest friends.
As the years passed, things did improve, as more people were educated in diversity and acceptance of differing nationalities. My brother and I felt we survived our childhood but we continued to carry the scars left from the past. I believe we subconsciously made our adult lives void of any reminders of our Japanese ethnicity.
When I planned my trip to Hawaii, I had no knowledge of the islands or its people. This would be an entirely new place that I had never heard much about or studied. This would be a place in which I could escape and forget about the past year. Imagine my shock upon arrival and discovering this magical place where everyone looked just like me! The foods, the culture, the décor, and the familiarity of everything around me was so astonishing! I was so overwhelmed that I cried the entire first day of the trip. Everywhere I went was like being home, but this time my cultural differences were not only accepted, but embraced. What I had always wished for as a child was here, but it wasn't a dream…this was real!
I have returned many times since that first trip. At the end of each stay, I find that not only do I bring back a love of the islands, but a newly found part of myself as well. Hawaii has taught me to be proud of my heritage and to celebrate being a part of something so wonderful. Being in Hawaii feels like going home again, and home is a beautiful place to be.