Once we were all up and fed and dressed in grungy clothes, Gary and Alyssa and Darian and I piled into the car and drove up to Tantalus. There we joined the rest of the massive Gill family workforce prepping for Grandpa's memorial. Ian and Tim were making banners, Alex had taken Granny down the mountain to get a haircut, and the rest of us were set to work cutting flowers and foliage from the Gill family jungle. I cut about three buckets of lau‘a‘e ferns and a few stalks of kahili ginger. We had tons of kahili ginger, red and green ti, several varieties of heliconia, red ginger, torch ginger, anthuriums, and peace lilies. It was so cute to see tiny Na‘oi carrying a heliconia stalk that was several times taller than he was. After cutting several buckets and coolers of glossy green leaves and red, orange, yellow, and white flowers we ran out of time and, really, had almost more foliage than we knew what to do with, and still there was so much more on the property, you couldn't tell we'd cut anything at all. ...I love our valley. Anyway, it was pleasant to be up on the road, filling bucket after bucket with glossy green ferns, standing in the breeze and the sun and the shade in alternation, and not even minding the swarm of mosquitos around my legs (lol I have so many bites today, is it weird that I think that's wonderful?).
We took a couple of breaks to eat furikake Chex mix and drink Pass-O-Guava juice. I said hello to tiny Lehiwa, who grinned when he saw me and tried to grab my face. We scrambled to find enough vehicles to put everything in and took hurried showers (just standing around in the humidity made us all sweat buckets) and crammed PB&J sandwiches and garlic dill pickles into our mouths and zoomed off down the mountain. We unloaded all of our shrubbery at Church of the Crossroads, left my mom and May Lynne in charge and took off for the Local 5 headquarters to pick up MOAR FLOWERS in fancy arrangements, left over from a function the union had had just hours earlier. We picked up some leftover fried mahimahi and noodles as well, and several plate lunches from the lunch shop next door, and headed back to the church. We all stuffed some food in our mouths (teriyaki beef, shortribs, bbq chicken, rice, mac potato salad, Szechuan eggplant, fried shrimp...) and then SCATTERED once more. At some point orchid lei were fetched, and Tim, May, Ian, Alyssa, and Lorin went to Punchbowl to see Grandpa. I spent the rest of the day helping Mom and May and Alex and my cousins and family friends who showed up early decorate the place. Campaign-era posters and banners all over the place; in the church itself tons of flowers, a framed photo of Grandpa draped with maile and an engraved Tom Gill quote on a table strewn with lau‘a‘e and red anthuriums; outside the door a gigantic black and white photo of the family in the 60's (or 70's), obviously assembled for a portrait and yet hilariously candid (Tony's the only one looking at the camera, my mom's got her mouth open, yelling, from Tony pinching her); out in the courtyard two tents, red ti, red ginger, and heliconia strapped to each pole, shading several tables strewn with lau‘a‘e; inside the meeting hall more tables strewn with lau‘a‘e, the food table decorated with lau‘a‘e and purple orchids, arrangements of green ti, ferns, orchids, and peace lilies by the drinks, giant arrangements of kahili ginger, torch ginger, heliconia, and red ginger around the room, the stage strewn with lau‘a‘e and purple orchids, framing a screen with a slideshow of Grandpa Tom's life, and a room to record on camera your memories of Tom Gill.
After a hurried change into nice clothes we went to the church to greet the flood of guests that started showing up. The memorial itself began, with my uncle Gary MC-ing, and words and stories shared by old friends, union officials, educators, journalists, politicians, and lawyers who had known my grandfather. There was a musical performance by the Spring Wind Trio, and the whole thing wrapped up with a stunningly beautiful rendition of Akaka Falls by Nalani Olds Napoleon. Gods, what amazing grace and poise that woman has.
The Family (all twenty-something of us, even missing some cousins and spouses and Uncle Kink) left the church en masse and went outside to make ourselves available to our guests. I rushed about fetching water before taking up station next to my mother, hovering near Grandma's chair on the lawn where she accepted the kind words and wishes of an endless train of people. Eventually I went in and grabbed some of the delicious food provided and served by Local 5 retirees... noodles, gyoza, chicken katsu, vegetable jun, cherries, brownies, cookies, and these delicious balls of dates, nuts, rice krispies, and coconut. I sat down with my food and fruit punch and laughed with my cousins.
Too soon it was time to go, and I hurriedly hugged and kissed everyone goodbye. Liko let me have one of the pictures from the fabulous photo-tribute she'd put together; I selected the one from the Lt. Governor campaign, with young Tom smiling up at the camera with several lei around his neck, and hordes of cheering supporters holding Tom Gill stickers (and a few for Governor Burns) standing behind him. I've always liked that one. Tony and his girlfriend took me back to Gary's to grab my stuff, and from thence to the airport.
On the airplane I watched The Soloist, which is amazing, I highly recommend it to everyone. It's beautifully shot and directed (same director who did Pride and Prejudice, and Atonement), Robert Downey, Jr is brilliant as usual, and Jamie Foxx does an outstanding acting job as Nathaniel Ayers, a homeless, schizophrenic Julliard dropout who's a genius on the cello. The mix of absolutely gorgeous Beethoven mixed with the noisy, dirty, concrete jungle of Los Angeles was kind of amazing. If you love music, if you love good acting, if you love quality film-making, watch this movie. It was so lovely.
...Then I passed out, woke up long enough to get off the plane and into Dar's car, then came home and passed out again, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. I've done absolutely nothing today so far except take a shower, poke at the internets, and post this (while petting a sleepy cat with my toes). ...I should probably got on with things.