On this day, June 24, two amazing Souls came into the world. My grandmother, Carol Kimie Chinen, and myself - Michael John Keolamau Tengan. While the year of our birth is separated by over half a century, the closeness I've felt with grandma transcended any separation.
As a family, we celebrated her birthday in early early July. Growing up in old Kailua on a watermelon farm, her parents did not register her birth until a week after the fact. As such, her official date of birth was incorrect. This made our shared birthday even more special, in my mind. Like a secret between us and the world, it was one of the many special connections that was purely our own.
Tomorrow we celebrate the entirety of grandma's existence with her funeral. It makes today an emotional mix of joy in her life and somberness in her death. Grandma was the purest human being I've known. What I mean by that is that grandma lived her life from a place of unconditional love. She gave freely of her head, her hands, and her heart. If you were going over to see grandma at her home in Palolo, then be ready to be nourished - body, mind, and spirit. Grandma made sure that everyone she came in contact with had enough food, wisdom and love to replenish themselves and be fulfilled.
Growing up in scarcity she decided to live her life in abundance. One of my favorite memories of grandma was during her time as an open market vendor at Paki Park in Kapahulu. She was selling the bananas from the family farm on a weekly basis, out of her green Dodge Dart. On this particular day, I remember her giving me small plastic bags of banana and telling me to deliver them to some of the vendors. You see, it was the end of the day, and she wanted to give the remaining bananas to those around her. That's just who she was.
So this day, I honor more than myself. I honor the woman who gave so much of herself to the world around her. Generation to generation, person to person, life to life. I am the man I am today thanks to the woman who taught me that a life of giving is indeed one worth living.