My first (and last) day of taking pictures since the collision.
Trying desperately to cling to some small bit of normalcy from my previous life I decided I should get off of my couch, out of the house and do something that makes me happy…take pictures! I thought it would be a great way to lift my spirits. Dad and I wanted to head up to Makawao Veterans Memorial Cemetery. Around Memorial Day weekend is always a great time to get some pictures because they usually have the small American flags next to all the pure white veteran’s headstones.
When I ride up to Makawao on my motorcycle I stop at two places: Makawao Cemetery and Hui No’eau Visual Arts Center. On a typical day these two locations are wonderfully empty and I can take pictures without being disturbed for as long as I desire. Today was not a typical day. As we pulled up just before 9am, we found it difficult to find a parking space due the abundance of vehicles and people already there. The parking lot was overflowing onto the street, but somehow we managed to find a spot in the dirt lot so I didn’t have to roll too far.
Dad pushed me in the wheelchair, which I found very difficult to accept. I am supposed to take care of him, not the other way around. If I turned out to be half the person my mom and dad are I’ll be very proud as a person. Once we got past the cars, the high school band, and the crowded entrance I began to push myself around the paved path. I was feeling pretty good, looking around, noticing things that I would like to take pictures of, but the feeling did not last.
Having my movements confined to the likes of a wheelchair or crutches was a challenge I was prepared to face, unfortunately I did not expect it to be so difficult. I became frustrated that I could not get the picture I could visualize because I was unable to get out of the wheelchair and get different angles. I had decided to not bring a change of lenses because I was not sure how I could schlep all my equipment around with a wheelchair. As any photographer will tell you, not having the right lens at the right time can eat away at you, never letting you forget what could have been.
I took a few mediocre pictures (see above) and pulled the plug on our photographic adventure, but rather than leave, we decided to see what all the hubbub was about. The pavilion was packed with all kinds of people, young and old, veterans and civilians and they were all waiting for a ceremony of sorts to begin. As the band played a set that included patriotic songs we entered the covered area and were handed a pamphlet. A veteran was being honored this Memorial Day for his ultimate sacrifice during the Korean War. The ceremony that we had stumbled onto was to honor Anthony T. Kaho’ohanohano and his recent recognition by the President of the United States as a Medal of Honor winner. Politicians spoke, community leaders spoke, religious leaders spoke and amazingly an entire group of people listened with reverence to every word they had to say. The speakers spoke about Kaho’ohanohano’s service, his bravery, as well as all the service men and women who help keep our country free. They spoke about the younger generation and how they need to be taught what Memorial Day is really about, not just an excuse for a long weekend.
I was too uncomfortable to stay for the entire ceremony because of my leg, but I rolled away with such a great feeling inside it made the pain worthwhile. The ceremony helped lift my spirits a bit and provided me with some perspective. Although I was frustrated about not being as mobile as I was and could not take the pictures I could see in my head, I realize that my disability is temporary and some people never had a chance to live their lives due to their sacrifice for their country.
My father and my friend Deb are two people that do something that I must begin to incorporate into my lifestyle. Whenever they see a veteran they shake their hand and simply say thank you.
Simple, yet does so much.