Mana is a Hawaiian word that is most often used to refer to a spiritual or divine power. Sometimes it is used to define a miraculous or authoritative power. “Mana makua” is parental authority. You see, mana is one of those words that, like “aloha,” can mean several different things. Mana has more of a spiritual essence to it than most of the English words we’re used to.
Aside from the fact that there are four or five different species of birds in this photo taken at Oahu Cemetery, the cemeteries do have a life all their own. Could it be that “mana” that we sometimes feel when stepping onto the grounds of one of these burial places? Each cemetery gives off its own “sense” when you visit. Oahu Cemetery is, like its namesake, friendly. There’s a sense of “thanks for coming to visit” when you go there — it’s peaceful and, yes, friendly.
If you follow the traditional way that Hawaiians always regarded the dead, the essence of a person resides in their bones. I’ve touched on the spiritual significance of the iwi (bones) before. With that in mind, there actually should be a “feeling” at all cemeteries, right? What we don’t always know is just how many other hidden treasures a cemetery may be holding.
I do frequent the ones in the Nuuanu area, Mauna ‘Ala included, because I’m weird like that. Unbeknownst to me, the maternal grandmother of a very dear friend from my high school years was buried right across the street from the burial ground pictured above. I kind of found this out the hard way.
My darling girlfriend and her mother were there one day recently when I called them. They were taking a lunch break in the midst of trying to deal with arrangements for their newly-deceased father and husband. Sometimes when you lose track of the people you’re close to, you meet up with a few shocks in the process.
This was not something that I had planned to do but I was certainly at a loss for what the heck I should do! So, I went to visit grandma, my newly-discovered neighbor, and took her some flowers. What else could I do that would have meant anything to the ohana that I had been separated from for far too long?!? Then I wanted to talk about all of this; I had to talk about all of this internal drama and I had nobody to share it with. Wait! “Hey, idiot, you have a blog!” Oh yeah!
~ Herbert Walter DeCambra ~
October 21 1934 – August 24, 2009
Late Saturday afternoon I listened while friends and family shared their feelings and stories of a much-loved man who left a definite mark on all who knew him. This memorial service was a unique experience for me. It was one that his family labeled “A Celebration of Life.” Somewhere between the tears and the laughter I realized that this title was perfect. I am very grateful that I was able to be there with so many people I grew up with, got into trouble with, pissed off Uncle Herbert with — you know the drill.
What touched me most was the joining together of long lost relationships — friends, family members, and some that were a little of both. Some of us may be on the opposite side of the island but that doesn’t stop the love or break up the treasured memories. While holding on to some of the dearest friends from my youth, I realized that we cannot let this happen again! We’re back in contact and we’ve got to keep it that way!
There was one more gift you gave us, Uncle Herbert. You brought us back together! Everyone will miss you but I will always be in your debt for making all of this happen for us! You were “felt” there! I’m going with “mana makua” — a parental authority that is now a spiritual, parental authority. I will carry this revelation with me in my heart and all the way to the bone for many years to come.
Aloha and may God bless the DeCambra family in this time of loss and transition. He p?maika’i ‘ia mai ke Akua! My heart and prayers are with you all!