Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Nov 4, 2016

"Birds In Paradise"

They walked right past me not realizing that they were the only ones on the excursion that evening. They were whimsical and romantically happy; who could blame them? The man appeared to be older, worldly and well traveled. His salt and pepper hair is what gave him his mark of distinction. The woman was perhaps ten or fifteen years younger than he was and very much in love with him. They were a throwback to every couple like them who arrived here by boat or plane and became swept up in a paradise that was painted by the likes of Delmer Daves or Joshua Logan. The truth of their personal situation wouldn’t surface until I broached the subject of the Kalakaua dynasty and their inability of some members to have children, save for Princess Miriam Likelike. 

The husband intimated that they two had not had to fortune or luck to bear children of their own.

“We’re good people,” the husband continued. “We’re not perfect people, but we love children.”

“What do you do for a living?” I asked the both of them.

The wife shared that she was a fifth-grade teacher and the husband developed curriculum for the state of Michigan. 

“And before you say anything about the children we teach are like our own children, we’ve heard it before. We know the intent, but it’s getting to be a bit long in the tooth,” He said.

 “There is no right or wrong answer,” I replied. “Only the one that the two of you decide on.”

The evening excursion continued on and the husband was fascinated with the classic architecture in the capital district. Although appreciative of the architectural style, he lamented that buildings such as Ali’iolani hale and the Kekuanoa building marked the influence of western colonialism. 

“Why couldn’t we have left things as they were?” He asked aloud.  

“He loves history and is saddened by it,” His wife said. “It always brings us back to our personal dilemma,”

“Not being able to have children?” I asked.

“Yes,” the wife replied.

“ It’s about history and legacy and the passing on of knowledge and immortality,”  

 I replied.

“You understand,” The husband sighed with relief.

“We have talked about adoption, but it wouldnʻt be the same,” the lamented.

“In our culture, we have a word called, “Hanai” it means to raise, rear, feed or nourish. It also means to foster a child from birth and raise it as your own; that child is afforded all the same privileges as if it were your flesh and blood. The child is raised knowing its biological parents; it is still practiced today. Even in my own family, my wife had four boys from a previous marriage just as I have a daughter from a previous marriage as well. Once, my daughter referred to the boys as her step-brothers but they were quick to correct her. They told her that there was no such thing as step-brothers; as far as they saw it, they were her real brothers.”

 It was an unusual subject to pontificate as we walked into the very middle of a cemetery, discussing the beginning of life in a place where life sees its last days before being committed to the earth. Perhaps the subject of bearing children in that location reminded us of the significance of the never-ending cycle of birth, life, and death. The evening excursion ended with a few pictures regarding the paranormal and the explanations that accompanied those photographs. 

“We started out learning about ghosts in Honolulu and now weʻve learned about the immortality of life,” the husband said. 

We exchanged handshakes and good-byes and as the couple walked away, they paused to give one another a long hug. It was obvious that they were crying but those were tears of reassurance and not sadness. I could not imagine what their reaction might have been if I had told them that for the duration of the evening, they had been accompanied by a little seven-year-old boy. He went as they went as paused as they did, and embraced the two of them while they embraced each other? A wise man knows when to speak so that change can occur, but a wise man also knows when not to speak, so that change will occur on its own.

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