Frances H. Kakugawa
Hawai‘i Herald Columnist

Omoiyari . . . Think of others first and good karma will return to you. — Frances H. Kakugawa

Dear Readers,

It looks like Wordsworth made quite an impression with his inspiring column during my absence. Here is some feedback I received to his column.

• “Oh, Wordsworth and Frances, it’s hard to believe that such beauty and even reverence come from the minds of young children. These poems are well worth the effort of publication. I loved reading them as I know you did when you first encountered them.” — Grace (California)

“Wordsworth had me in tears. The poems. Wow.” — Sandy (Hilo, Hawai‘i)

“That was so perfect — to have Wordsworth featured in your column while he was working in Hawai‘i.” —El (Hilo, Hawai‘i)

Wordsworth has a busy summer ahead. He will be working with summer school students in Hawai‘i. I hope those students will hold dear the lessons they learn about compassion and care for our elders.

Here are two poems written about children, now adults, who have forgotten about humanity to our parents. These poems were shared in my poetry writing support group last month.


A precious day filled with love and blessings

from sons and daughter, children and grand-

children. Tributes of flowers, loving letters

a special breakfast and dinner, what could be


Did anyone come on Mother’s Day?

I murmur a weak reply . . . they are busy.

Busy with Dodgers-Giants rivalry,

camping or boating on the Delta.

Is a mother’s love so easily forgotten,

and a long goodbye no goodbye?

Where is the compassion for a

mother’s deathly silence?

I grieve not for Fran, but for those

who have forgotten how to grieve.

— Bob (California)


A bomb went off

In the middle of my family.


Was it only about my care?

There has to be more . . .

Things, feelings, tampered down,

Packed hard, all these years.

You all love me, don’t you?

You want me well-cared for, right?

You want me to be respected,

Honored, as the man I used to be,

Right? Please. This is my last journey.

Ease up on your judgments.

You, too, will answer for yours someday.

I need my family around me now

Not fighting, angry and resentful.

I need you around and over me

Caring and loving me.

In the end times

You will need your family

Around you, too.

— D (Sacramento, Calif.)

The following is a precious poem that was written by Etsuko, age 92, who attended my lecture/workshop at the Hawai‘i Island Adult Center in Hilo.


You were a good-looking man, 70 years ago.

At age 95, you look OK.

You don’t say nice things to me like 70 years ago

But you are still at my side.

I’ll stay with you for another 70 years

If you will stay with me.

A Note of Gratitude

I was 21 years old and teaching my first internship class for one semester at Pālolo Elementary School in Kaimukï. Michael was in that kindergarten class. Since then, his parents, Takashi and Amy, have kept in touch with me through Christmas cards. They have also attended all of my book signings on O‘ahu. These days, they attend with Michael’s grandchildren bearing lei and handmade gifts.

At my recent event at Nā Mea Hawai‘i at Ward Centre in Kaka‘ako, Takashi handed me this poem, which he had hand-written in Japanese and English.

good memories

are treasures

of the heart.

The following is for the Brag Corner. On my blog, I post thoughts and stories, including topics on caregiving. You may want to check out these two sites. If you go to the side bar labeled “Caregiving,” you will find my posts.


Just wanted to give you a heads up that has been featured in my Top Caregiving Blogs Awards post. Here’s the URL:

Congrats and keep up the awesome work you do for the caregivers of seniors, the elderly and disabled! Have a good one!

Scott @ Graying With Grace

EH, AUNTY . . .

And, finally, if a young person has ever called you “old,” or “elderly,” there is something precious awaiting you in Hawai‘i.

If you’re lucky, a young local man or woman will address you as “Eh, Aunty.” To understand the essence of being addressed as “Eh, Aunty” takes a lifetime of processing. Then, you will truly understand the gift of the two simple words.

Do you remember how awful you felt at being offered senior discounts when you were still in your 40s or 50s? I remember feeling such indignities when teenagers called me “Ma’am” when I lived and worked in Michigan when I was still in my 30s, not realizing it was a means of showing respect.

When I first started out as a teacher, my kindergarten children would mistakenly called me “Mommy.” That was fine until “Mommy” turned into “Grandma.” Students are that special group that keep you young forever.

I still remember one of my sixth-graders telling me, “Please don’t wear that.” She was pointing to my eyeglasses, which were hanging from my neck. “You look like my grandma.” I quickly put my glasses on my head without the holder. When you’re young, you tend to fall and succumb to the “culture of youth.”

Anyway, back to “Eh, Aunty . . .” While in Hawai‘i recently, I was just about to push my shopping cart back to the supermarket entrance when a young local man called out to me, “Eh, Aunty, I’ll take that for you.” He came over, took the cart and returned it for me.

At the Honolulu airport, a local man stopped me from getting a luggage cart. “Eh Aunty,” he said, “save your money. Here, use my cart.” And then he helped load my luggage onto the cart.

Again at the airport, I happened to be standing in the way of someone who was pushing a passenger in a wheelchair for early boarding. She whispered to me from behind me: “Aunty, excuse me, can you let us pass? Mahalo, Aunty.” Adding “Aunty” turned her kind request into an even gentler one.

A friend in Hilo explained this best with her story about driving out to the dump with a carload of trash. She had just opened her trunk and was about to start unloading her trash when a local man approached her.

“Eh, Aunty, leave ’um. I take care of that for you.” He then proceeded to unload all of the trash from her trunk. When she thanked him, he just smiled and said, ‘No worry, Aunty. We take care of our küpuna.”

For the first time, “Eh, Aunty” came to mean what it has always meant in Hawai‘i — the true aloha spirit: pure and genuine — for each time someone approaches me with an “Eh, Aunty,” I know I am being cared for and recognized as someone who may need someone’s hand, but most of all, that I am the recipient of someone’s humanity. It is also a reminder that I have returned to my Island home.

Thank you, Hawai‘i . . .

Frances Kakugawa was her mother’s primary caregiver during her five-year journey with Alzheimer’s disease. A native of Kapoho on Hawai‘i island, she now lives in Sacramento. Frances has melded her professional training as a writer and educator and her personal caregiving experiences to write several books on caring for people with memory-related illnesses. She is a sought-after speaker, both in Hawai‘i and on the Mainland, sharing strategies for caregiving, as well as coping with the stresses of caregiving.


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