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  • Anela Barboza

As We Begin to Return

Updated: Aug 3, 2019

It is a few short weeks before I journey back to O'ahu again to bring my oldest bebe to college. I am beside myself with pride that he will lead our long migration home.


These days, time takes much longer strides between each trip to Honolulu. I often find myself racing against the momentum of life to do and say all the things I once had an eternity to accomplish.


I am reflecting about stories that endure over time, how they move and change and weave themselves into the fabric of our beings. I question if I was always or never a storyteller, or both. And so it seems fitting that as I listen for the story that wants to emerge here, I would come across a message of thanks I had meant to send last year, shortly after my last visit. And in the spirit of gratitude, I share a story in honor of my uncle, Jerry Santos.


I didn't grow up hearing stories of my history, of my birth, of the place from where I came. It was as if nothing existed before my parents left Hawai'i, before my grandmother met my grandfather, before I was born onto unfamiliar sands that hold a different salt, sand and language than I was meant to carry.


So the first summer I spent getting to know uncle Jerry and Olomana, I was as nourished by his tales as I was by his music. He told stories about our kupuna, my kupuna and of the 'aina, of our history, and of the lessons he learned along the way.


In this time and through these stories, I began to experience home for the first time.


Always full of grace and generosity, Jerry continued to enroll and re-enroll me as a kanaka, for years, and then decades, always reminding me of where I came from no matter how long I stayed away or how far I drifted. Each time I came to visit, he would greet me, ask how long we had been apart, where the wind had taken me this time, mixing it up with some other random "M" state that was also too far from home. And then he would smile, embrace me in my tears and sweetly weave his own tale of separation and heartache into a story of returning home, to where we most long to be.


Of all of his stories, I've held this song deep within my na'au for the last three decades. It's a song that shares how we find ourselves inside of the various seasons of homecoming. And throughout my lifetime of living so, so far away, of longing, of returning, and leaving again, this particular story has endured alongside my unwavering love of Hawai'i.


I share this story to honor my uncle Jerry Santos and the inspiration he instilled in me to persevere, always homeward, always returning, and always connecting to the stories that remind us who we are.


As I enter this season of homecoming, my heart's kahea to the 'aina is to please accept me as you find me, humble and ready to return home.


And my prayer for you is to find ease and sweetness, and a similar story of love that endures and sustains you along your journey, wherever you find yourself today.

Me ke aloha ku'u home o Hawai'i



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