We grieve as life goes on; the funeral and my celebration of life under the sea


My Grandfather, shoveling off the roof in the winter of 2007.

They buried Grandpa today. I woke up at about 6:30 and called mom; I knew she wouldn’t be at the service. It was 12:30 eastern time, which would be right in the middle of calling hours and I guess I just wanted to hear some familiar family voice. Mom was in Canada at a draft horse festival that she and her husband had been planning to go to for a year. She stopped mid-conversation to hold up the phone so I could hear the bagpipes play as they went by. Bagpipes always make her emotional. She mentioned how coming to Canada feels like going home. Even though she’s never lived in Canada, that’s where a lot of the family still lives. It put me at ease to hear her so relaxed and content.

Cori, Stephanie and I started our day with a long hike through the forest in Koloko. The trail was gorgeous. The first part of it was a narrow moist path; sheltered overhead by large Hapu tree ferns, we climbed over thick slippery roots. We came to a more open path surrounded by pasture that spread up the rolling hills. In the distance, there were a few cows grazing. Stephanie introduced me to a couple of the wild fruits that grew along the path. One looked a bit like a tomatillo on first glance but the tomato type fruit that she peeled out of the shell tasted more like a tomato crossed with some sort of berry. The second fruit was a long slender passion fruit, a lilikoi. I was a bit turned off by the squishy yellow brown seeds on the inside but I was reassured and dug in. It was quite pleasant, very similar to the fleshy seeds of a pomegranate but less bitter.

Cori went to a family gathering for the day so I spent some time with Stephanie. We had a great time snorkeling near the pier in downtown Kona. She had seen an abandoned yellow dive bag a few days before and wanted to see if it was still there. She happened to have an extra mask and fins so I could come along. I’d never been snorkeling before and I had a fabulous time. The coral was peppered with all sorts of colorful fish I’d seen before only behind glass. I felt like I was floating in a huge fish tank at the dentist office. We swam out past the coral to where the ocean floor was a bit more barren and where she recalled the yellow bag had been. There was a massive school of fish floating in a huge circle. I didn’t seem them at first because they were so dense that it just looked like dark rocks; once I saw the light catch them just right, I yelped through the snorkel tube. It was pretty amazing and quickly turned slightly ominous. Stephanie pointed out a barracuda about the size of one of us that was stalking the school. It was so still, I couldn’t see it no matter how much she pointed but she kept saying we should probably head back in as it was starting to watch us too. The yellow dive bag may have been in that scene somewhere but we would abandon the search for another day.

We spent some time downtown at the farmers market. Stephanie wanted to find an orchid to take to a party later. Downtown Kona seems quite nice though a bit touristy. Of course, there are tons of little tourist and coffee shops, restaurants and bars. The farmers market had a few booths of tribal inspired tourist items like coconut windchimes and reed bags besides all the fresh fruits and vegetables and plants. It was a good day though. The sun and breeze were out and I’d just been floating around in the ocean. I understand now what is so fascinating about the underwater world.

It turned out later that there was an unfortunate consequence to my amazing day. The whole back side of my body turned bright red. So for the next couple of days, I will have to keep the exposure to a minimum.

In the evening, Cori and I went back downtown for some food at Lulu’s and watched the sunset as we ate. Oddly enough, as the sun diminished into the water and we finished our food, two dark-skinned men in the back parking lot stood in kilts practicing their bagpipes. The band below the balcony began playing Irish songs as we got ready to leave. My day had strangely come full circle and even though I had felt so far from home on the day my family came together to grieve a loss, in that one moment, I felt like I would never be all that far away.


One thought on “We grieve as life goes on; the funeral and my celebration of life under the sea

  1. practicing bagpipes in Hawaii, guess I never thought of it, but who would think of practicing Irish fiddle in Hammond 🙂 Gretchen told me they give scholarships in Cornwall Ontario to learn the bagpipes 🙂

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