Inspired by others to inspire others.

Who knew that our friendly, and unassuming tai chi teacher, Dr. Wong, has a long history of charitable deeds that he keeps under the radar? I only know a few of them…

Dr. Wong is a medical doctor who back in the 90’s went to Vietnam with the Aloha Medical Mission to perform hand and face surgeries for people who could otherwise not afford it. He mentioned to me how satisfying it was for him to offer only 45 minutes of his time to repair a boy’s cleft lip that would drastically shift the boy’s future life experience.  Last year, Dr. Wong donated his anesthesia machine to the Aloha Hawaii Mission to Nepal and contributes monthly to The Spring at providing needed clean water to third world communities.

Throughout his medical career, Dr. Wong has continued to augment quality of his patient care with concepts he has learned in the martial arts. For example, while performing surgery under a microscope at medical school, Dr. Wong applied his Aikido training and focused on his “dantien,” or “one-point” center.  As a result, he was the only surgeon without magnified hand tremors. Nowadays he approaches his patients with the Taoist concept of recognizing what is out of balance, and once he helps to restore that  balance, the disease disappears on its own. He also employs his knowledge of energy fields by using both sound and light therapy on his patients to encourage synchronous resonance in their cells, enabling his patients to heal twice as quickly as previously. Such techniques so effectively help his patients, many other doctors could benefit learning them. 

Dr. Wong takes time from his full work and teaching schedule to volunteer at Men’s Shed ( on Saturday mornings, doing wood crafts with retired men who talk and bond over woodcrafting projects that they do together. The Men’s Shed brings camaraderie, laughter and purpose to retired men who miss their previously busy, interactive work lives. One member of the Men’s Shed lost his ability to walk and speak in a terrible accident. His buddies brought him regularly to the program, where he found little ways to contribute until – lo and behold – in less than a year he surprised all his doctors by regaining both his ability to talk and to walk!  Dr. Wong is on the Board of Directors of the Honolulu Men’s Shed, the first such organization in the United State, started here 2 years ago, and inspired by the 20-year-old Australian Men’s Shed progam. 

Dr. Wong is currently working to restore an historic, aging boat back to a sailing vessel. He was  touched by the boat’s brave tale. Shortly after the tragic Japanese tsunami of 2011, a 75-year-old Japanese gentleman, Ikuo Tateo, came up with a plan to encourage his fellow countrymen and women to keep up their spirits in the face of the crisis. He christened an old boat with the slogan Ganbatte Nihon, meaning “Japan, do your best!”.  He then shipped the boat to California and set out across the Pacific towards Hawaii by himself… with no mast, no sail, no motor, sculling over with only a rudder, arriving in Honolulu after a 48 day trip. The elderly Tateo accomplished this seemingly impossible journey to encourage others to keep fighting the brave fight. Tateo then donated his boat to an educational non-profit for children, asking only that the boat be used for kids educational outings and that they keep his story alive. Dr.Wong, an avid waterman so inspired by the man’s story, is working to restore the boat in honor of its noble history.

We are honored to have Dr. Wong Kai Ming as part of our Still & Moving faculty.

Nature can be a remarkable teacher when we open ourselves to learning. I recently did quite a bit of walking on a short little path in the desert. I walked on that path numerous times a day for the ten days of my silent meditation course.

The little gravel path was delineated with small pebbles and little rocks, up to a size of an apple. One morning, when the sun was just cresting the horizon, I noticed the shadows that these small stones cast. Their shadows were HUGE – easily 20 times the size of the pebbles, maybe more.  A simple thought arose in my mind… “Wow, sometimes my fears are huge like these shadows, while the real problem is as small as these rocks”.

As the day progressed and the sun traveled across the morning sky, the shadows slowly grew smaller. At twelve noon they almost completely disappeared… only to start growing again, this time casting themselves to the east of the pebbles. Sometimes, I reflected, the same circumstance gives rise to opposite fears! Wow, my metaphor just kept on giving.

How often do I see only shadows and react to them? What if I could keep shifting and adjusting my perspective on the challenges that life brings? I’ll give it a try.

Being alert to nature provides me with instructive insight. Especially when I’m struggling with anger, worry, fear or anxiety, if I notice and take in Nature’s built-in lessons, I can dispel my mind’s imaginings, which may be untrue, useless or destructive. Thank you Nature for the reality check!


How often do we encounter someone who really does not act from the standpoint of the ego? Rarely, right?

As we approach Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birthday in 2019, I’d like to tell you about Shashi Tiagi from India, a living, breathing, working Gandhian whom our family is privile ged to know and to have recently spent time with.  We call her Shashiji, adding the respectful “ji” to the end of her name.

I can imagine that in her moments of doubt, she asks herself not, “What’s best for me?” but something along the lines of Gandhi’s suggestion below.

A slight woman wrapped in a faded blue and white cotton sari, with serviceable pink tennis shoes, Shashiji wears a single red plastic bangle on her wrist, scratched by hard work and desert sand. The holes in her earlobes, beneath her home-dyed henna hair, have long grown over since the passing of her younger days of gold earrings. Her dark eyes miss nothing, bright, perceptive, warm at their depth.

As a young woman, her family chose a husband for her with the right credentials per their respective families, and Shashi agreed to the match. She soon came to learn that her husband – Tiagiji – was involved in the Bhoodan Movement, started by one of Gandhi’s most effective devotees, Vinoba Bhave.

The plight of India’s rural poor – working for nearly nothing as virtual slaves to the landowners of the time – greatly concerned this compassionate man, Bhave. Shashiji tells us of the first meeting Bhave convened with some wealthy landowners. He went straight to their hearts, saying, “If you have 4 sons, think of me as your 5th son. Whatever land you would give as an inheritance to your 5th son, give it to me. I will distribute to the poor farmers of your community who are struggling to barely feed their families.”  The room went quiet until one landowner stood up, taking all by surprise.

“Vinobaji,” he said, “I will take you as my 5th son. Here is my gift: At dawn tomorrow, come to my land and begin walking. Keep walking all day. Whatever land you walk upon between sunrise and sundown, that land I will give to you on behalf of the farmers.”  Bhave accepted the offer, walking over 80 acres of his land the next day. With that generous gift for the poor, the Bhoodan Land Gift Movement commenced.  Within 13 years, Bhave “owned” more land than any other person on earth – though he continued to walk in sandals, loincloth and a shawl, without any personal possessions, giving every inch of the land away.

Shashiji mentions her parents’ worry when they learned that her new husband was connected with Bhave. To be associated with such a movement, Shashi and her husband were going to have to live like the poor themselves – as Gandhi had done and Vinoba Bhave continued to do. All her nice saris and gold jewelry – where Indian families generally stored their wealth – would be given away to feed the poor. They would live without luxury or convenience. This Shashi did, as a devoted wife and as a person of conscience.  We can imagine her as young bride discovering the harsh life style in front of her – though we have never heard a word of complaint from her.

Following in Bhave’s footsteps, Shashiji and her husband L. C. Tiagi, or fondly known as Tiagiji, carried out their own arm of the Gandhian campaign to gather land for the poor. They were particularly drawn to the Thar desert of Rajisthan. There the farmer families could barely eke a living where there was only a possibility of rain one month of the year, and whatever water they managed to catch had to last them the remaining 11 months. The scattered community of about 50,000 inhabitants had no access to healthcare and no schools.

As a college graduate, Shashiji created a school for the children. Her husband set out to help the desert villagers more effectively catch and sequester water. Here women often died in childbirth, girls were treated as property, the “untouchable” cast had no rights, and workers in the mines died young of lung disease. In 1983, the Tiagis founded a nonprofit organization called GRAVIS near Jodhpur to address the pressing needs of their struggling brothers and sisters on the Thar desert. See their website here.

Shashiji tells of a time near the beginning of their efforts when the wealthier people resented the help and empowerment the Tiagis and their co-workers were bringing to the underprivileged. Some teenage sons of the rich people took it upon themselves to break into their simple huts, stole or destroyed whatever they found and smashed their roofs. This continued for 4 nights – with the GRAVIS people never responding in kind – before the police finally stopped the young marauders.

Another time as Shashiji and her husband took different paths through the town, Shashiji looked back and saw a young man with a knife approaching her husband. Without a moment’s hesitation, Shashiji ran up to the youth and grabbed his arm, refusing to let go while he held the knife. When the police intervened, she and her husband refused to press charges. The young man was ashamed of himself, and what he had contemplated doing to these good-hearted people. He changed his life.

Life on the desert is hard on women in any case. Walking to collect water can consume many of the waking hours of a woman’s day. One day, Shashji and a co-worker met a village woman and asked about the bruises on her face, which the women explained as having come from a fall. However, when they left woman’s house together to collect water, the woman unfolded the true story of how her husband mistreated her.  Later the husband later came to Tiagiji to complain that Shashiji and her co-worker were corrupting his wife and turning her against him. Tiagiji asked the man how long he had been married. Eleven years, the man replied. “Eleven years!” cried  Tiagiji , “And yet in eleven years you have not won your wife’s trust as these two women have in a day?!? They have succeeded where you have failed.” The man bowed his head and conceded that Tiagiji was right. From then on, he gave his wife freedoms that other women did not enjoy, and she became one of GRAVIS’s workers herself, with her husband’s blessing.

GRAVIS has done enormous good over the past 35 years, creating 98 schools, building a hospital, getting higher educations for some of the village boys and even girls, helping to secure water rights, and now serving 1.5 million people.

Our family came to know Shashji 11 years ago when our daughter Sandhya did a internship during her junior year of college. In an eye and heart opening few months, Sandhya learned a lot about service from Shashiji and her son, lived a simple lifestyle, and helped to further GRAVIS’ efforts to help the rural poor.  Sandhya and I later invited Shashiji to California to help us lead a weeklong Gandhian retreat on sustainability.

Just recently we all had the chance to reunite with Shashji where she was being interviewed at the Metta Institute in Petaluma, California. Shashiji and Sandhya then spoke to a class of at-risk youth about the work GRAVIS is doing to improve people’s lives on the Thar desert. The American kids were especially interested to hear about the child marriages GRAVIS had helped to prevent.

Before Shashiji flew back to India to resume her work, Sandhya, Cliff and i spoke with her about the idea of bringing fat tire bikes to the desert to make it easier for girls and women to gather water. Cliff was particularly wondering how to convince the mine owners in the desert to improve their drilling practices to protect their workers from lung disease. No challenge seems too daunting to Shashiji. We said goodbye feeling so privileged to have spent precious time again with Shashi Tiagi, this strong, humble crusader, for the less fortunate of the world.

Dancing in Joy and resting in stillness with you,

And you, dear reader?

Just hit Reply – I always love hearing from you.

Get to the Honolulu Art Museum School by this Sunday, November 11th to see on exhibit the ceramic work of Still & Moving Center’s student Domenica Sattler. Her piece, called “me too!”, she says might be better entitled “me too, not alone”. The museum was so taken by the piece, they have purchased it! Three cheers, Domenica!

The figures in Domenica’s ceramic piece express how different women/people deal with sexual harassment and more severe matters. She explains that looking at each of the figures sitting there, we get a feeling of what pain has done with each of them. Each has a unique story to tell – whether minor or more painful – and yet, they are sitting together, not alone.

Dominica invites us all: “ If you have time please drop by!” And of course you can find smaller, similar figures of Dominica’s work at our Boutique-E!

Domenica says of herself: “My creations are varied – from the stillness of a classic Ikebana vase to sculptures reflecting the grace of movement and feelings. With my figures and faces, I like to describe unspoken feelings and relationship to ourselves and others.

“I was born in Switzerland and have traveled through Europe, Asia, South and North America throughout my life. I always imagined myself working with clay. Having settled with my family in Hawaii, I finally took my first sculpture class in 2005. The technique and art of ceramics have held my attention ever since. Now it is my sincere effort to combine my love of dance and the compelling beauty of Hawaii and what touches me while living my life, in each ceramic creation.”

The Hawai‘i Craftsmen 2018: 51st Annual Statewide Juried Exhibition features artists from throughout the state at the Honolulu Art Museum School, formerly known as Linekona School.

Hawai‘i Craftsmen 2018:

51st Annual Statewide Juried Exhibition

Honolulu Museum of Art School

1111 Victoria St, Honolulu, HI 96814

Exhibition hours:

Tue – Sat: 10am–4:30pm,

Sun:  1–5 pm

until Sunday, November 11th


Sign up now!

Sunday, Nov 11

5:30-7:30 pm

Indian meal $10 at 5:30 pm

Free performance at 6:15 pm


This year marks Still & Moving Center’s 8th celebration of the Indian festival of lights, Diwali. Each year members of our faculty, staff and student body joyfully contribute their energy, creative juices and enthusiasm to this joyous fête – celebrated in our unique multicultural way. This year is no exception!

Perhaps Malia Helela, our kumu hula, is the sole 8 year participant. Even director, Renée Tillotson had to miss a year! Malia has choreographed special hulas for either trained or totally untrained (!) dancers, narrated our enactment of the Ramayana epic, acted, given solo dance performances herself, and cooked tasty dishes! Her sons Kaiehu and Waiea graduated in their roles – or perhaps demoted! – from young princes to members of the demon hordes, and this year for the first time perform with the hula kahiko group doing ancient style hula.

Sooriya Kumar of Mouna Farm Arts and Cultural Village has also regularly participated, usually chanting a Sanskrit mantra, often providing Indian food from his organic farm, once hosting our Diwali at his farm for an overnight celebration, occasionally providing beautiful copper art pieces.

Doris Morisaki – like many of her fellow students – has danced hula on repeated occasions, with Doris making the additional contribution of coordinating practices and filling in for nearly every part in the play during practices. Ms Willow Chang frequently features her Bollywood dancers and has even performed the female lead Princess Sita. Yoga teacher David Sanders has appropriately played the part of a yogic sage.

Dayl Workman has made her mark on the stage with memorable performances of the demon princess and bitter step-mother, this year roaring onto the stage as the demon king Ravana. Nia Black Belt Krista Hiser and her aerialist daughter Violette Skilling have often contributed their talents, with Aerial teacher Kezia Holm coordinating airborne performances.

Members of the Indian community of Honolulu have frequently lent their talents, with Abhilasha Garg providing costume consultation this year, and India Cafe often catering the Indian dinner.

Some of our memorable performances include Jivatmata Messageur and Sarah Hodges each as the beautiful Princess Sita. Both Amit Heri and Bharat Das nobly carried the role of Prince Ram. Unforgettable Ravanas include Jerome Mester de Trevino and Murat Demirtas – both powerful dancers. Our notable battle scenes have included Kung Fu by Bruno Ballestrero, and Kendo contributed by Master Jonah Chin’s students this year.

One of Renée’s favorite Ramayana experiences was playing the flying monkey hero Hanuman!

Everyone is reserving seats early… only 108 places. We’ll see you there if you can make it!

Aloha !

When did we cease to ‘talk’ with with our animal kin? Why can so few of us still understand them? And how can some of us not comprehend that the animals and fish and birds and insects have any sentience at all? And of course there are so many times when we forget that our fellow humans feel what we feel… how can this be and how can we heal it? “Love and Bananas”, a film made this year about elephants in Southeast Asia, aroused in my heart all these questions.

Lek is a small Thai woman born to a family that has captured, broken and trained Asian elephants for generations. She came to the point where she simply could not bear the cruelty of the methods systematically used to quell these noble beasts. Defying her family, she went to the media with torturous photographs of how every elephant in captivity is crushed into submission. She then went on to start her own elephant sanctuary in Thailand.

The film, with its protagonist Lek, is a worthy successor to one of my favorite books, “Elephant Whisperer”, about the author who saves a herd of wild, raging African elephants from being killed by the government, and eventually gains these giants’ love and trust in his animal sanctuary in Kenya.

As our movie unfolds, a young American woman comes to visit Lek and her elephants, learns their plight, and gets to go with Lek on an elephant rescue. Our hearts ache at the mistreatment of these magnificent animals, and thrill with the realization of how intelligent, sensitive and loving wild animals can be. Then there’s the remarkable Lek, who was cast out of her human family for protecting her elephant kin. What a sterling example of a human being in rapport with the animal kingdom.

Are we born able to commune with the creatures around us? I can’t remember. I look at how easily our one year old grandson gets along with the family dog, who is a big bruiser twice his size, brushing past him on his unsteady little feet and never actually knocking him down, going into distress when she hears him cry. I watch him feed her off his highchair tray as naturally as he feeds himself. Neither of them can speak a word. Do they ‘talk’? I wonder.

What do I remember? I recall having an ant farm where I could watch these busy, dedicated workers create their elaborate tunnel home in the sand between two pieces of plexiglass. My best friend at school and I used to save bits of our cafeteria lunch and then feed the anthills out on the playground. One of my most connected animal moments happened in the wee hours of the morning when I was present for our cat Miss B (for Beautiful) giving birth to a litter of tiny wet, blind kittens. I felt as exultant as I imagine she did!

I recall raising silkworms, which are actually caterpillars, and feeding them mulberry leaves until they spun their silk cocoons. Thank goodness my mom had us watch them go through their natural life cycle to emerge as heavy, fluffy whitish moths, rather than plunging the living cocoons into boiling water to be able to unroll their silk thread, unbroken.

That’s not to say I was always kind-hearted with creatures as a child. I guiltily recall the sick glee I took in pouring salt onto garden snails and watching them fizzle to death. Now THAT is just the kind insensitivity to the animal world I am lamenting. 

My keenest early recognition of the sentience of the animal world came when I was a young teen. I collected what I thought were old barnacles from the beach, then dropped them into a pot of boiling water to sanitize them. As I peered into the steaming water I saw them send out delicate little feelers, feather like, reaching out as if to call ‘Help! Save us’, and I knew it was too late to rescue them. Such a heavy thud of feeling inside me that I was unintentionally boiling these innocent creatures to death.

I didn’t have the sensitivity to realize there was a living being inside the barnacle to begin with though. So whether I was ever able to communicate with animals, I don’t really know, but I couldn’t by that time. I’ve USUALLY been kindhearted to their suffering, and I eventually had to become a vegetarian in college, realizing I could not kill the fish, chicken or cow, so had no right to eat it.

Really though, I didn’t have any sense of animals’ intense awareness level until my experience trying to save our dying koi fish a few months ago, when she opened up for me a brief heart view into the living universe that I had never known before. Click here to read that story. Whether my young child self could talk with the animals, I don’t remember, but as an adult my consciousness has been too dense, too insensitive to normally pick up what animals have to ‘say’. I see that it’s time to change that.

People like Lek and an animal communicator named Anna Breytenbach – see her remarkable video below – are deeply attuned to the animal world all the time. In one of the most touching scenes of the film, Lek rescues not just an elephant, but the heart of an elephant trekking company owner who, like his family before him, has been mistreating elephants his whole life. It must be possible for all the rest of us. If you haven’t already, inspire yourself by watching “Love and Bananas”!

Dancing in Joy and resting in stillness with you,

And you, dear reader?

Email me – I always love hearing from you.

Motivated by compassion, this marvelous non-profit organization located on the westside of Oahu gives sanctuary to unwanted horses in Hawaii who have been abused, injured or neglected. Equine 808 Horse Rescue provides emergency relief, medical treatment, rehab and adoption services.

As a 501c3 non-profit, Equine 808 Horse Rescue has been operating since 2008. With no government aid, the organization relies completely on volunteer labor, community financial support, and love.

Their education programs seek to enlighten community members on responsible care and ownership of horses – in a fun, outdoors setting where they meet resident horses and other farm animals.

Some children get their first exposure to a ranching lifestyle here. Many come to Horse Camp, for birthday parties, or on field trips with Boy or Girl Scouts, etc. The site also boards outside horses as space allows. Riding lessons teach adults and children horse care, riding management and the responsibility of owning a such an animal.

Volunteers carefully record each horse’s information on a clipboard – much like a hospital clipboard for each patient – so that they can track the horses’ recovery. The horses receive unique care according to their individual needs as they are rehabilitated, re-trained and prepared for adoption.

Michelle Blacconiere, Equine Behavioral Specialist, assumed her position as Site Manager about 5 months ago. As the owner of her own business, Honolulu Horse and Carriage, Michelle saw that although there are many dog and cat rescue organizations, Equine 808 is the only horse rescue facility on island. She therefore understands the importance of her role, guiding a team of about 35 volunteers. As she says, these horses cannot feed and care for themselves!  

For those interested in assisting these animals, many more volunteer positions are available – working with the animals, in administration, on ranch maintenance, public awareness, and fundraising. There’s even a rebuild going on that could use helping hands. Volunteer orientations happen the first Saturday of each month at 10 am, the next orientation coming up October 6th.

94-1108 Kunia Road, Lot #21, Kunia, Hawaii

(808) 590-1210

Most of us at Still & Moving Center know Kezia as a fantastic aerial teacher and performer in her own right. She LOVES climbing, dancing and dangling from aerial silks, hanging in aerial yoga hammocks. Scratch the surface of this ardent aerialist though, and you will find a devoted horse woman, and animal lover in general.

Sometimes she finds ways to combine her passions, doing yoga on horseback, for example, which is high enough off the ground to qualify as “aerial yoga” to me, but not something we’ll be able to offer indoors at Still & Moving Center!!!

On horseback since before she could walk, Kezia rides, grooms and cares for horses daily. She considers herself blessed to own her horse Herbie and to care for numerous other equine friends of hers.

Not only does Kezia do the customary cleaning, brushing and feeding of horses, she works with them at a deeper level. Just as she provides medical massage to human beings in pain, she also offers it to horses. I’ve felt her touch; it’s both strong and gentle and truly healing. But for those of us mere mortals, imagining how this beautiful young woman – even though certainly very muscular – can get that kind of traction on a body the size of a horse is mystifying!  Nevertheless, island horse owners in-the-know seek out Kezia’s massage services regularly for their four-legged rides.

Kezia can be found at horse stables between Hawaii Kai and Waimanalo. She’s an important part of the horse community on Oahu.

Horses are just part of Kezia’s animal family, which also includes a cat named Bart and a newly adopted feral kitten called Snow Fox. Kezia valiantly defends all animals who are treated cruelly, from a tiger kept for gawkers at a truckstop, to an inhumanely singed kitten, to abandoned caged animals of all sorts. Watch her social media and you’ll have plenty of opportunities to sign petitions to save these innocent creatures who have come to Kezia’s watchful attention.  

My advice: don’t mess with this lady when she’s protecting her beloved friends in the animal kingdom!


Contributed by Kezia Holm

If you are sad or lonely, pet a purring cat.

Cats can help those who are lonely feel a connection with another life. Coming home to a cat can provide welcome company to those who are single or widowed. A cat’s purr of contentment has a contagiously calming effect. And caring for another creature – such as a finicky cat – can help you take your mind off your own worries, especially when the cat settles into your lap for a snuggle.

If you want to know how you’re really feeling, spend time with a horse.

Horses sense every emotion that you’re feeling and respond back to it. They give you a very palpable reflection of whatever emotion is traveling through your system. They notice such things as when you’re holding your breath. Researchers have shown that horses not only can recognize facial emotions and body language but also retain a memory of those things.

If you want to get in touch with your inner child, go play with a dog.   

Go for it, get silly, and chase around the living room with a puppy or a frisky dog. Tug on a toy with a dog, wrestle her to the ground over it, and get covered with slobber along the way! Dig a hole to China in the beach with your furry friend. Jump into the water with a dog and race him to see who gets ahead. Get out and shake all the water off as vigorously as the dog does.  No matter if you don’t own a dog – there are plenty of them just a tail’s wag away who will be happy to come out and play with your inner child!


I often call him Eeyore – you know that droopy eared, sad-sack donkey in Winnie the Pooh. His real name is Bob, and he’s my husband’s step dad – the only grandfather our kids ever knew on that side of the family. Seldom, if ever, the life of the party, Bob’s a quiet man who verges on stubborn and grumpy more frequently these days. And yet, sometimes he surprises me.

At age 62 myself, I’ll have to live another half of my current age to catch up to where Bob is now at age 91. That’s a long time to live! He sleeps and takes some of his meals at a very nice senior home in Santa Barbara, California. He’s just recently had to give up bike riding, and his long walks have gotten much shorter.

He drives home during daytime hours to the house he lived in with Cliff’s mom for so many years. Our son Shankar and his fiance DD who now live there, welcome him daily with good cheer. They always seem able to find the humorous side of Grandpa Bob. Well, not always. Shankar finally had to set Bob straight about being curt and demanding to the waitresses when they went out for dinner together. Bob has since mended his ways on that front… most of the time!

Finding subjects of conversation with Bob is not easy for most of us. He holds politically and socially opposite viewpoints from every other person in the family – so that closes off most topics regarding the daily news. Shankar and he like to occasionally travel to Los Angeles to take in an A’s baseball game. Not being a sports person, I lack that area of dialogue that Shankar shares with him. Oh dear, what to talk about?

Bob is intensely interested in the weather, and keeps a rain gauge at the house. As a professional scientist and a former sailor who spent many happy summers taking friends on boating excursions, Bob studies weather news intently. So at least there’s that. When I call him every Sunday morning, I get a lengthy description of the changing temperatures and general drought conditions there in California. Of course the Santa Barbara flooding (rare) and fires (frequent) add spark to those conversations, especially when Shankar is out fighting those fires. He’s so proud of his grandkids.

The recent volcanic activity on Hawaii island fascinated him when he came to visit the last couple weeks. Bob wanted to track the lava flow mile by mile when he was here visiting. We even set up a trip for him, accompanied by a much younger friend of ours, to helicopter over Fissure 8 and see the lava flowing down to the sea. He loved that!

He most enjoyed going to work with our younger son Govi to his construction job sites. Our usually taciturn Bob was so thrilled about spending time with Govi, being part of the workflow, he came back to the house saying he’d just spent 2 of the best days he could remember in years. He was jubilant!

It’s rough being a widower. Cliff’s mom Sue was the sunshine of his life, and she’s been gone now for nearly four years. He’s managed to keep himself on a pretty even keel, psychologically and physically, by assiduously following his routines of getting out and about. But he’s still quite a loner. Even living in the senior home for all this time, sharing his dinner in the dining hall at tables with other residents almost every night, he still hasn’t managed to learn the name of a single other person in the facility. He’s just not what you would call a cozy, easily approachable guy.

Then there’s the matter of his health, which he frets over constantly. He keeps up a constant regimen of doctors appointments, checking his own blood pressure daily. He self-diagnoses all the time and then takes himself to the emergency room for “consultations” as he calls them, when he thinks it will be too long until his next appointment. Of course, he always thinks he knows more than the doctors do, so that can lead to interesting developments. And who am I to say? He’s made it into his nineties with a sharp mind and functioning body!

On the last day of his visit here, the rest of the family was all off island for Govi’s paddling race. I was determined to devote the majority of my time to making it a great day for Bob – on my one day off of the week, and yes, I was feeling like something of a martyr and feeling ashamed of myself about that. Anyway, I planned a trip to Bishop museum, a nice drive, a good dinner somewhere…. Some things we could enjoy together.

Bob started the day with the papaya he had asked me to buy as a special treat he never gets in Santa Barbara. He found that delicious. And that was the last enjoyable part of the day.

He next asked to be taken to the emergency room for a “consultation”. When I came to pick him up, they told me he was back in the emergency room because he had undone a procedure the doctor had performed to begin with. No time was left in the day by the time we got home, and of course he was tired, poor guy. After dinner, he asked for a third E/R visit of the day, which got us out shortly before midnight. (He’s doing fine now, thanks for wondering.)

We left for the airport the next morning at 5:30 am to put him on his flight home. Here’s when I got surprised. He apologized for leaving such a big mess to clean up – I wasn’t expecting that. Then our normally non-demonstrative Bob gave me not one but TWO big bear hugs, thanked me for being such a good hostess and told me he loved me!!!

That from Eeyore. Wow. I like it when people don’t easily fall into my expectations of them.

When I told our son Shankar this story, he was not surprised by any of it, including the happy ending. Shankar summed it up: “He has the redeeming value of being a great grandpa. He may not get along well in bigger groups but one-on-one it’s not hard to see he has a pure soul and heart of gold.”

And so I continue on my journey to more fully understand the human heart.

Dancing in Joy and resting in Stillness with you,

And you, dear reader?

Just hit Reply – I always love hearing from you.

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