A year ago, after being away for nearly eight years, I “came back” to the newspaper that had been my life for 37 years.
When I left The Garden Island, I thought this chapter of my life had ended forever and steeled myself to accept and adjust to a world that didn’t revolve around headlines and deadlines.
I tried not to think about the people I would miss, especially the ones I had worked with for so long they were like family. But I knew I would also miss many of the merchants, educators, farmers, and the movers and shakers in Kauai’s public and private sectors I had gotten to know. After years of reporting and supporting their causes with stories and special sections, they had become much more to me than mere contacts.
A little over a year ago, I wrote an article about hurricanes and the need to take them seriously that found its way to the desk of TGI editor Bill Buley. He asked if I would be interested in writing a column for the paper and after thinking it over for a while, I said yes, and “Kauai Reflections” was born.
The past year has gone by in a flash. (Either time really does fly when you’re having fun or I must be having fun because time has flown by. ) I sat and thought for a while about what an “anniversary” column should be about.
(Just about then, hurricanes Madeline and Lester made their appearance but by the time I sat down to write they were gone (thank goodness) and not only was I all “hurricaned” out, I had a hunch most of our readers probably were also.)
So I decided to write about what the past year has meant for me, the good things, the bad things, and what ultimately I have gained from the experience. In other words, this is probably going to be a column I write for myself.
If I had to pick the thing that has meant the most to me in the last year, it would have to be reconnecting with many people who were part of my life during and even before my years at the newspaper.
Sometimes, though, it has also been a bad thing but one that made me smile. The lives of many of them would make fascinating stories I would love to share with readers but when I ask them, they just laugh, say “no way” and change the subject. And I have to respect their right to do so.
Fortunately, though, I have had the privilege of writing about people from many walks of life who did graciously allow me to tell their stories. Many were suggested by readers who often didn’t even know me but felt they would be good subjects to write about. My thanks to these generous souls.
I have written columns that said goodbye to places that will forever hold a treasured place in the hearts and memories of those of us who knew them and loved them.
I have also sadly had to bid aloha to a very dear friend, who was a loving father and husband, an extraordinarily talented musician and performer and so respected for his kindness and courage, he is considered by many to be among the finest of Kauai’s legion of unforgettable people.
I have gained so much over the past year. For one thing, the paper gave me a venue to share my love of writing with others. Bill did not expect me to write “on demand,” on subjects he wanted covered. I was free to write about fascinating people, pieces of Kauai, often with a bit of history thrown in.
I have shared lighthearted stories intended to amuse; nostalgic family memories meant to spark similar memories others may have; serious stories that aren’t always what people want to read but sometimes have to be written.
Through it all, I have been able to do what I love best of all: to use the words I love to create something that others may enjoy.
Mahalo to Bill Buley, who has never dictated what I should write, but has allowed me to go where I wanted to and never refused to publish anything I submitted. I will forever be grateful to him.
Mahalo nui loa also to the many people who have said such complimentary things to my husband Wayne and myself about my columns. Many are of course friends you would expect to say nice things but many have been relative strangers: receptionists in doctor’s offices, clerks in stores, insurance office employees, fellow parishioners in church, often people we don’t even know. Thank you so much for the support.
All in all, it has been a good year. Thank you to TGI readers for allowing me to share part of my passion with you. It has meant the world to me. Aloha.
Rita De Silva is a former editor of The Garden Island and a Kapaa resident.