Isidro Cabatan “Vic” Pezario and Esther Cecilia Malia Pezario were inseparable for almost seven decades.
Married on Valentine’s Day 1953, their marriage spanned 66 years and endured the tests of time. They had seven children along the way and 18 grandchildren, 19 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.
Their love always stood strong.
But on Feb. 2, 87-year-old Vic was rushed to Wilcox Medical Center, where he was admitted for a collapsed lung. Vic’s best friend, 85-year-old Esther, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, kept asking ‘Where is papa?’”
Two days after Vic was hospitalized, Esther suffered a stroke and was admitted to the intensive care unit at Wilcox. Nearly 24 hours later, Esther was wheeled to Vic’s hospital room for his final moments.
According to her sister, Elaine Fernandes, Esther touched Vic’s hand for the last time, sharing the finality of the moment with one last sentiment of love.
Vic died Feb. 5.
“At that point, I believe she knew of him passing,” Fernandes said of their final moments together. “For a week after, she could not speak or eat.”
Esther passed away exactly one week after Vic, ending what can only be described as true soul mates, inseparable in life and death. On March 9, their family held the final viewing for the couple and said their tearful goodbyes to the matriarch and patriarch of the Pezario family.
“Pop’s told me how to love a woman for more than half your life,” Vic’s grandson, Ikaika Pezario said of the advice he was once given by his grandfather. “A relationship should be 50/50. Not 70/30, not 80/20, but 50/50.”
That approach is something that kept the fire between the Anahola couple burning for so long, but not everything was all roses all the time.
“They were best friends and even enemies at times,” their ex-daughter in law Queenie Daligdig said of her parents. “They were very private and kept things behind closed doors. They knew how to enjoy life together.”
According to the family, Vic was never shy about expressing his love, often kissing his wife in public. Esther, always cognizant of public displays of affection, would shy away and laugh — but that never deterred Vic from trying anyway.
Later in life, they showed their love as grandparents by keeping the family together.
“They loved having family gatherings and just having fun in watching the grandchildren grow,” Daligdig said. “They were a couple that worked hard to support the family, doing their daily responsibilities as parents, for the family.”
Esther was the daughter of George Kaleiohi Sr., a musician who wrote the song “Wai Ulu,” as recorded by Gabby Pahinui, the Lim Family, Na Palapalai and Willy K. The song can still be heard today, frequenting the radio waves on Kauai.
Vic came to Hawaii at the age of 15 from Agno, Philippines, with his mother and sister. He remained on Kauai with relatives, while his mother and sister eventually returned to the Philippines, leaving Vic with extended family and a green card.
“Being a green card immigrant, he worked hard at a very young age,” Fernandes said of her brother-in-law.
When Esther’s Alzheimer’s worsened, Vic was by her side from morning to night, bringing the same work ethic that he carried throughout his life.
“He helped her get ready for the day, cooked her meals that she loved to eat and would settle her in for the night,” Fernandes said. “It became very difficult for Esther to go anywhere in public, so Vic always had someone at home with her that she knew and could care for. He would do his weekly shopping and quickly hurry home.”
This love of cooking was something that Esther admired in her husband.
“It was Pop’s love for cooking,” grandson Kainoa Pezario said of his grandfather’s passion for cooking. “He would always cook Gramma’s favorite food. It always made her happy to come home and Pop’s had cooked dinner.”