Kainoa, Nostalgia, Parenting, Stuff We Love, Transitions, WPC

Growing Up, Growing Old


I am an only child to young parents. They were barely 20 years old when they had me, which led to an extended family living situation so I grew up beside them, while my grandparents served as my second pair of parents until I went to boarding school at the young age of 13.

Before my ʻūniki 1.5 years ago, my mom called me in tears. She had been diagnosed with breast cancer and she was scared. Over the course of the next 6 months, I would fly up to Honolulu, meeting my parents halfway, to attend the slew of doctors’ appointments, which coincided with her chemotherapy treatments. After chemotherapy, she underwent a double mastectomy and a stint of radiation. When she came through everything, we were told to hang tight for 6 months to make sure she was was out of the woods and being that my mom has been an avid runner for a long time, we were optimistic, but during recent check-ups, tests revealed that cancer had shown up in her liver and this time, there was less to be optimistic about. Unlike her last round of treatment, chemotherapy this time would merely slow down the process, but ultimately, there was no way of “beating it”.

Last year, it seemed much easier to stay strong for my parents. They could rely on me and we could be cautiously optimistic together. Now, days feel numbered and finality is much closer than I’ve ever imagined. I am reminded that in getting older, so too are my parents and that I am not a child anymore, but to my parents, I always be. Time is precious and waiting until “later” is no longer a luxury we have.

My mom has overcome so much over the course of her life, being a young parent and the many illnesses she’s endured, but she’s always been positive and always made sure people around her were at ease. I admire her for making the best out of her life, but mostly, I admire her for serving as my role model, encouraging me to be the best person I can be, all the time.


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  1. Mrs. N says

    I was so saddened to read this. I lost my dad four years ago now…I understand. I deeply understand. Big big hugs to you…..prayers for your family.

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    • Mahalo Jane. I’m trying desperately not to just get through the passing days, but to also cherish each moment.

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  4. Morgan Mamizuka says

    Thank you for sharing this Kainoa. Last summer I lost my dad after six months of slow deterioration due to heart problems. I’ve always been one to throw myself into my work and felt guilty when I considered taking time off to care for him and to give my mom some respite. But was urged by my boss to just drop what I was doing and do what my gut told me. I’m so thankful that I did. I was able to spend time with him in his last couple months when we really knew the end was near. Having that time and knowing it was so precious allowed us to be very open and more loving than ever. I think I needed that so that I could be okay with him not being here after. I don’t mean to worry you more about your time with mom, but just reinforce your actions and thoughts of dropping what is not as important at this point in your life so that you can appreciate the things and people that are irreplaceable.

    I’ll be thinking and praying for you and mom. Hugs!!

    • Mahalo Morgan, for sharing how you spent precious time with your dad in his final months. Parents never want to feel like they are a burden to us, even in their most challenging times, but I’m so glad you opted to step away from work and enjoy your dad’s company while he was still here. Prayers to you and your family as you continue to grieve and mahalo again for lending me your perspective as I work through my mom’s illness.

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