Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Aug 27, 2022

Aupuni 10 2022

Mom was a wealth of knowledge and very worldly, which to me, as her son, seemed out of character because I had never seen that side of her.

Her role as our mom was all I knew and saw her as, nothing else. I was clueless in that I could not see within those moments when I thought she had veered off course from the learning and would talk about her regrets and heartaches. I had no clue that there was a baby she'd lost the same year after I was born. She was under much stress at the time, working three jobs, playing Hawaiian music on the weekends, and having to contend with our jerk father, who would randomly show up out of the blue and stick around long enough to conceive one of us and then take off. So, there are five of us, which tells you how often mom didn't get the hint until she miscarried who would have been my baby sister. That's what we were told for all of our existence until this evening when mom began to discuss discerning who your enemies and friends are. 

"Both can be members of your 'ohana," she said. That's when she told me that the baby girl she miscarried was not miscarried at all. After I was born, my mom finally learned her lesson and divorced my father. In the process, she met a nice Hawaiian man who worked at the legal aide office. They began seeing one another, and in a short time, mom was hāpai. When the time came that the baby's gender could be determined, she and the new guy, Roger, found out that it was a girl. One day, when Roger was at work, the rest of my siblings were in school, and I was with my grandparents; my father showed up drunk. Seeing mom hāpai sent him into a rage, and he punched her in the stomach and left. 

"That was the miscarriage, your father," she spoke without emotion. Perhaps because she had shared it so many times with her friends and maybe even her sisters. "Roger found your father later at his favorite bar in Waikīkī and beat the shit out of him. After that, your father never came sniffing around again. Roger left soon after that, so it was me and all of you against the world in the end."

There was that kind of silence where you sit and take in what had been shared with you by someone's traumatic experience. I gave mom a hug, and we cried together. "The love you need to sustain you comes from your 'ohana, but the evil that is done to you; also comes from your 'ohana. So, especially if it's a curse, search within your own family first."

My father was long gone by that point. So there went any chance to find him and confront him about it. Maybe it was better that way. The lesson in Hawaiian culture, as Mom knew it and learned it from growing up, was incredibly valuable. Equally valuable were her lessons in humanity, compassion, and deep-seated aloha. The lesson I learned that night was that every human being, no matter what, is subject to happiness and sadness and all other emotions in between, including our teachers. I gained whole new respect and love for mom because she went through all that shit and still persevered. 

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