Frances H. Kakugawa
Hawai‘i Herald Columnist
Omoiyari . . . Think of others first and good karma will return to you. — Frances H. Kakugawa
With each new year comes another birthday that moves us closer to the setting sun.
I recently read a novel that defies all of our concerns about aging and dying. It’s a funny, comical novel about a 100-year-old man who escapes from a nursing home. The book is titled “The 100-Year-Old-Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared” by Jonas Jonasson. The story takes him back through his own history and his encounters with the memorable figures of those times — people like Joseph Stalin, President Harry Truman and other leaders. Each encounter will give you a good belly laugh and make you ask yourself what the big deal is about getting old or about dying. A movie was made based on the book, but it really didn’t do any justice to the book.
A new resident moved to my mom’s care home about a month ago. We urged my mom to make conversation with this woman since she, too, has a sharp mind. My mom found out that this woman is 94, was a librarian and enjoys doing the crossword puzzle every day. My mom said she loaned the “Kapoho” (my memoir, “Kapoho: Memoir of a Modern Pompeii”) book to this woman, who is enjoying reading your stories, as she, too, can relate to them having grown up in Kohala on the Big Island.
I’m glad my mom has someone she can have conversations with (finally!).
This sort of ties in with your January column about making new friends. Hopefully, my mom has made a new friend. I enjoyed reading that column. It also ties in with the article on Rose Nakamura (Project Dana). I didn’t know that dana meant “selfless service.” I used to go to this yoga center, where we learned that there are four practices in yoga: chanting, repetition of a mantra, meditation and selfless service. That’s what I think of caregiving — as selfless service.
So, there are two women in their 90s reading my book — what a gratifying image!
It may be the result of my sharing your stories with my publisher that “Kapoho” is going into its second printing, in a larger font.
It takes a very special person to rephrase caregiving to “selfless service.” Thank you for your valuable emails, Rowena. I know readers find them as gratifying as I do. I’m looking forward to meeting your inspiring mother on my next trip to Hawai‘i.
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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.