If you want to meet some of Kauai’s finest citizens, be at the Kauai Beach Resort Friday.
The Agency on Elderly Affairs will celebraate Older Americans Month in May by hosting two events to honor Kauai‘s kupuna. The annual Older Americans Recognition Ceremony will be held on Friday, and a festival is set for May 10.
The recognition ceremony will take place at 9 a.m. with a luncheon to follow. The public is invited to attend the ceremony. Those who wish to stay for lunch will need to purchase a ticket at $27 per person. Please call 241-4470. Nineteen Kupuna who will be recognized as Kauai’s Outstanding Older Americans will be honored.
“Communities that encourage the contributions of Na Kupuna are stronger. By engaging and supporting our kupuna, we recognize that they play a key role in the vitality of our neighborhoods, networks, and lives,” said Kealoha Takahashi, Executive for the Agency of Elderly Affairs.
Those being honored are Gary Pacheco, Phyllis Meighen, Magdalen “Maggie” Mission, Estelita Manglinong, Maryanne Kusaka, Dawn Kawahara, Jean Dobashi, Catherine Butler, Kay Naito, Elyse Litvack, Guy Ambrose, Neil Brosnahan, Carl Todd, Manuel Pascua, Richard “Dick” Ueoka, Juliet “Julie” Souza, Wayne Medeiros and Eric Nordmeier.
One who was to be honored, but recently passed away at age 82 was Annie Kanahele.
I was fortunate enough — thanks to my friend Dickie Chang — to spend some time at her Kekaha home in 2017 for an interview. The Kanahele family was giving their first public concert, singing in Hawaiian, on Dec. 8 at the Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall and Mama Ane was ready to talk about it.
Although we only spoke for about 15 minutes, a few things were clear. She was a woman of great joy, great faith and great wisdom. She was one of those people everyone likes to be around. I know I did.
She shared many words encouraging words with me that day about her faith in God, her love for people that I remember well.
“You need each other, to love each other. You need to love each other.”
And she added this, that skin color did not matter.
“Your blood is just like my blood.”
Our kupuna being honored Friday, like Mama Ane, have experienced life. They endured failures, setbacks and disappointments. They enjoyed successes and celebrations and good times. They did not get to where they are by complaining, whining or blaming. They got there working, persevering, and understanding that they are accountable for their actions. They are accountable for the choices they make. So many today don’t seem to understand that. Kauai’s Outstanding Older Americans are outstanding because whether in victory or defeat, they stand tall. They stand strong in who they are and don’t turn away from their responsibilities.
I’ve had the pleasure to meet many of those being honored — people like Maryanne Kusaka, Dawn Kawahara, Eric Nordmeier and Catherine Butler. Each is kind and gracious and encouraging and I’m sure have many words of wisdom if we just ask. They are all successful, yet humble, preferring to highlight others over themselves.
I offer congratulations to these outstanding people. They make Kauai a better a place and in doing so, make the rest of us better, too.
Here are a few other comments from kupuna that may help us as the days march on and we look back on our lives:
• “You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hope, as old as your despair. — Douglas Macarthur
• Age should not have its face lifted, but it should rather teach the world to admire wrinkles as the etchings of experience and the firm line of character. — Ralph B. Perry
• “You can only perceive real beauty in a person as they get older.” — Anouk Aimee
• “Old age is ready to undertake tasks that youth shirked because they would take too long. — Somerset Maugham
• “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you was?” — Satchel Paige
• “Too many people, when they get old, think that they have to live by the calendar.” — John Glenn
And my favorite:
• “Do not try to live forever, you will not succeed.” — George Bernard Shaw
Want to go?
The Older Americans Month Festival will be held on May 10 at the Kukui Grove Center Food Court from 9 a.m. to noon. The event will feature organizations that offer opportunities for kupuna to thrive and remain independent and agencies who offer assistance. Fun entertainment by kupuna, demonstrations, and door prizes will round out the festivities.