Tag Archives: family

Butch

5 years ago today, my birth father passed away; one month before I lost my baby, and over 2 years before I found him.

I wish I could have met him. There are times I’m sad I didn’t get the opportunity to grow up with him and his side of the family, but I am eternally grateful I found them at all. It took nearly 20 years for me to find him.

I swear to you, I feel he must have helped guide me to find my sister so I could connect with her and the rest of his side of the family. The series of incredible luck it took for me to find her was just amazing. One right after the other in a rapid succession within hours.

My birth mother gave me two names to find him; his name and his cousin. His cousin’s name was unusual enough that I knew it would be easier to find him than Butch. Since 1995 I regularly search online for Butch and his cousin, but I was never able to turn up any results. I would call information in Hawaii looking for either of them. I had even talked with someone from a veterans group to help search for his service records. What I didn’t know was that Butch wasn’t his real name.  I later learned it was a family nickname. This explained the great difficulty in locating him .

In 2011, and as it turned out, just weeks after he passed away, I did a search, like I had done so many times before, for his cousin.  For the first time I got a hit. I got an actual street address for him. I wrote down the address and then stared at it for a long time.

Now what?

I mean, what do you write to the cousin of your birth father, a man who never knew you existed, and it’s been over 40 years? “Uh, hey! So I’m your cousin’s unknown 41-year-old daughter and, uh, I just wanted to say hi.”

Like, seriously?!

So I sat on the address.

In 2014 Chris and I were preparing for our big wedding and I was in the midst of writing out the wedding invitations. I turned the page on the notebook I was using and there was the cousin’s address… staring at me.  Well, I was already in letter writing mode and I figured one more couldn’t hurt. Besides, what was the worst that could happen? They don’t respond, or it gets returned. Then I was no worse off than I already was.

I grabbed a blank card and proceed to write-up a basic letter with my origin story.  I started with who I was, why I was writing, the story my birth mother gave me about the cousin and my birth father, and the various ways I can be contacted. I even told them to Google me, there’s plenty of pages and video interviews out there if they need more info.

I will admit, there was a tiny part of me that worried they’d see I was a witch and simply never bother to contact me. However, there was nothing I could do to change that fact. Fact is I’m as out of the broom closet as one can get.

About a week went by and a woman I believe was the cousin’s wife friended me on Facebook. I woke to find the notification and was in minor shock. I think I called Chris at work quite excited about it.  I spent about an hour or so looking at her page, mostly scanning her friends list to see if a Butch or anyone with his last name was among the many names. At the time I didn’t find anything.

I scanned her page, saw a neat hula video, and pressed “like”.  That did it! She not only unfriended me, she blocked me completely.  I was incredibly devastated. This was the closest I had ever come to finding him in nearly 20 years since I found my birth mother and learned who he was and it seemed that my best connection to find him was now gone. I was beside myself and unsure what happened or what I should do next.

Fortunately, I remembered some of the names on her list, like her daughters’ names. Oddly, this was the breakthrough I needed! Within the friends lists of her daughters’ I was able to find tons of people with my father’s last name. Every profile with his last name I opened as a new tab. I had over 20 tabs open. I scanned the names and came across two women of which I thought at least one might be his wife. Later I learned I was right on the second name. I searched both of their profiles for Butch, but at the time I didn’t find anything.

I went through a lot of info, scanning for anything that might help me connect with Butch. While I was going back and forth through the profiles I kept going back to the second woman’s page and somehow I opened up a photo album I hadn’t found previously that just happened to be nothing but pics of Butch. I looked at the caption and realized I found him! To be honest I was beginning to think the info my birth mother gave me was incorrect, but there he was.

Just then my father, Ron,  walked down the stairs. Coincidentally he was heading to the airport to spend the week at a family reunion. I started yelling, “I found him!” as Dad was walking toward me. I was so excited! Dad walked over, I pointed at the computer screen to show him. He was really happy for me.

The first pic was of Butch in the early 70s, not long after returning to Hawaii from the Vietnam War.  More pics after that showed him in uniform in various countries.

Eventually I realized all the images were posted on the same day. Then as I read the picture comments it took a second to sink in.  They were all past tense.

“He was…”

I then paid more attention to exactly what people were writing and realized he had indeed passed away. I missed him by just over 2 years.  My heart sank. I sat there for a while crying over a man I never got to meet and who never knew I existed.

As I sat staring at one picture I read a comment from one woman, “Daddy was…” Daddy? I have a sister!

I already had her profile open among the many tabs still open. I went through her profile and discovered she ran a  Hawaiian language and culture organization in Las Vegas. I opened the link to the organization’s website, but discovered there was no phone number and the link to their Facebook page was not functioning. Most of the info on the page seemed to be about 2 years out of date. I really wanted a phone number. The idea of trying to reach her by email seemed like my chances were less likely to connect with her if I didn’t have direct communication. I searched on FB directly to find the organizations page and much to my relief there was a Las Vegas phone number.

I admit, I kinda freaked out for a minute before making the call.  Like the letter to the cousin, what does one say to a sibling that did not know you existed? I mean, these are weird conversations and I hadn’t yet found a Hallmark card that was suitable for this situation.

I was worried if I called her she might be defensive and possibly not believe me. I was so worried about being rejected, but I sucked it up and called her.

For a change I exposed my blocked number so she wouldn’t think I was a telemarketer. However, I got the voice mail and unfortunately, it was not in English. It was all in Hawaiian and I sat there stumped. I had no idea what it said and when the beep came I had no idea what to say, so I hung up.  Fortunately, because I didn’t keep my number blocked, she called me right back. She asked if anyone called from my phone number. I said yes and told her, “this is likely to be the strangest phone call you’re ever going to get” to which she replied, “it already is.” I then explained, “if you’re who I think you are then I’m your sister”.  I feared I’d hear the phone disconnect, but she was still there so I told her the story I was given from my birth mom about her time dating Butch. I gave her all the info I was given. For my sister, the info matched up.  We talked for 45 minutes that day.

This all began around 11am that day and I was on the phone talking with my sister by 5pm. It was a crazy emotional rollercoaster day.

As luck would have it I was planning to be in Las Vegas the week after our wedding for a friend’s wedding.  We chose to meet that Sunday for dinner. My husband sat there listening to us talk. He observed that my sister and I lead different, but very parallel lives.

I’m sad Butch isn’t here for me to meet him, but I’m grateful to have found his family. They’ve been just amazing. Hopefully, next year I can travel to Hawaii to meet the rest of the family.

Kona Blend

My father and his brothers formed a band, Kona Blend. They put out two albums that can be found on YouTube, iTunes, and Amazon. This is the first song my sister introduced me to as we were driving around Las Vegas on our way to an amazing Hawaiian place for lunch. That’s my birth father, Butch, singing.

Original Release Date: April 26, 1979

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Missing My Mother

I’ve been missing my mom a lot lately.

Let me begin by clarifying which one I mean when I say that. My “mom” is the woman who adopted and raised me. Her name was Nole (pronounced: NO lee)… well technically it still is her name.

1975
1975

I’m sure it’s all the family discussions that have been taking place lately because of our approaching wedding. Many of the wedding traditions remind me that my mother is no longer here with us and won’t be sharing in any of this with me. It hurts when I think about it. I really miss my mom.

Until last night I had failed to realize that we’ll be getting married one month to the day before the 22nd anniversary of my mother’s passing. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that so much time has already passed, and yet it also feels like another life time ago.

My mom was born in the late 30’s in the Philippines. She rarely ever told me any stories of her childhood. After she passed away I learned that perhaps she didn’t have a lot of happy memories of her youth. There is one story she told me about that still haunts me.

When the Japanese invaded the Philippines during WWII my mom was still a small child. She told me about a time the Japanese armies were sweeping across the country heading toward her village. Her family packed up what they could and left their farm to hide further away. She said she remembers watching the chickens try to follow them as they left.

I asked why they had to leave the chickens behind. I have always had an affinity with chickens… I don’t know why, but I adore them.

She explained that they made noise and couldn’t be silenced to avoid being found. Apparently sometimes they would hide below ground in a makeshift shelter that was camouflaged, but the chickens had previously given away their location or the location of other villagers. It wasn’t particularly clear. Honestly, at that point I was still focusing on the chickens being left behind. I’ll explain more of that in a minute.

My mother also talked about stories villagers heard concerning Japanese soldiers going into villages, tossing a random baby into the air and impaling it upon their riffle bayonet.

Years after my mother passed my father told me about a story he heard from my grandmother.

Grandma was on the front steps of the house combing my mother’s hair just as a pair of Japanese soldiers were walking by. One stopped, came over to my grandmother, took the comb from her hand and gently combed my mother’s hair for a bit before walking on.

The things I took away from these stories were:

  1. War is hell.
  2. Even your enemies are human, may have families, and could likely be missing their own children as well.

Compared to the world my mother grew up from, I have lived an extremely privileged life. I am grateful that she and my father adopted me.

Chickens

Yvonne & RollieWhen we went to the Philippines in 1975 I bonded with the chickens. I had created some toy from an empty box of matches, string, and discarded rice grains they had sorted out from a nearby house. (I just remember a big pile of rice with a bunch of women sitting around it sorting the grains and kicking out the bad ones.) I grabbed all the discarded grains and stuffed them into this match box, and dragged it by the string behind me. Like I was walking my dog, which was back home and I missed terribly. What do you want from me, I was only 5 years old at the time.

Anyway, my mother described it as though I was the pied piper of chickens! They were following behind me in every direction I walked because the match box had slowly slid open a little and was leaving a trail of rice grains behind.

 

RANDOM MUSIC

Juno Reactor is a musical and performing act known for the cinematic fusion of electronic, orchestral, and global music.

Juno Reactor – God is God

Interfaith and Faith in Family

Last night I enjoyed time with my OC Pagan Meetup. I sat between my fiancé, Chris, and his cousin. His cousin is a big scary looking tattooed guy, but he’s actually a devoted family member. He’s also the reason Chris and I met. He brought Chris to Meetup when he started to attend again after a 5 year absence.

The three of us were talking about the upcoming Christmas holiday plans. They have a very close family and there are plans for Christmas eve, Christmas morning and Christmas night. I’m really not used to that. After my mom died in 1991 we didn’t really have a lot of “family” holiday celebration since it’s just me and Dad. I did for a short while after I found my birth mother, but she lives far away out of state now so that makes things a wee bit difficult. And though the idea of a “white Christmas” sounds appealing, flying to where she now lives, in the dead of winter, does not.

While we were chatting I asked Chris’s cousin if he’d received the invitation for the engagement party. This led to a conversation about the family and reservations they have about our wedding. Turns out a few are concerned we would make them oath to a God different than their Christian one. They were concerned we’d make them participate in a way they would not be comfortable with. His cousin explained to them it wouldn’t be anything like that, but as they have no real experience with Paganism and the various practices it seems perhaps that all they know could be the crap they may have seen in movies and on TV.

Knowing how sarcastic his cousin can be I gave him permission to tell his family they didn’t have to do anything other than help us clean all the blood up after the ritual. I was JOKING, but I was then informed that some family members might not think it was a joke.

*sigh* Ok.

Here’s what I don’t understand… would they feel this same fear if they were invited to a Jewish or Hindu wedding? Would they actually be concerned that they’d be expected to convert or pledge to a deity they don’t believe in? Probably not. So why wouldn’t they believe and trust their own family (Chris and his cousin) when they say it’s a wedding and not a mass ritual to convert? How could they not believe these men? These sons/nephews/grandsons – men they’ve raised and known their whole lives. They know the kind of men they truly are, and would ensure their loved ones wouldn’t be made to do anything that would upset or hurt them. Why are they so afraid?

Wiccans, and frankly most Pagans, don’t proselytize. You will never find us knocking on your door at 8am on the weekend asking if you’ve heard the word of Odin, Pan, Hecate, or Isis. Not going to happen! If that was part of our religious practice I think I would’ve quit early on. I used to do door to door sales as a kid and HATED it. I’ve also never felt it was my job to sell non-Pagans on converting to my religion. If you’re interested and want to talk about it, we can. If you want to learn I’ll gladly help, but it’s not my job to convert you from your current religion into a practicing Pagan.

Chris’s cousin suggested having conversations with the family to help put them at ease. I will gladly explain that all we want from them during the ceremony is their love and support. I had already planned to write out a program for them to follow along during the ceremony. I was hoping that once they meet many from the bridal party they’d learn that even the bridal party isn’t comprised entirely of Pagans. My maid of honor is Catholic, she’s one of my best friends and I’ve known her since high school. One of my cousins is a bridesmaid and also a Catholic. A couple more of the people we’ve asked to be in the bridal party are Buddhists and Christians.

Chris’s cousin explained if the family felt we’d be asking them to do something they were uncomfortable with they will skip our wedding ceremony and go to the reception instead. “They” include certain close family members of Chris; people I know that mean a lot to him. This made me a little sad to think they’d do such a thing to Chris. The whole reason we’re holding a big wedding later on is for our families and friends to witness our ceremony and celebrate with us. So the fact that they even considered skipping attending as an option hurt a little.

But here’s an interesting perspective… Chris and I were invited to his aunt and uncle’s home for one of the dinners around Christmas. They’re very devout Christians. Chris’s cousin wanted to make sure Chris warned me that they’ll be saying grace prior to dinner. His cousin was concerned it might upset me. I kind of laughed. Of course not, it’s their home. Knowing it’s a Christian household I didn’t immediately assume they’d want to convert me. Why? Because thus far they haven’t shown me to be anything other than kind and gracious people who might be very devout in their spiritual beliefs, but so far I haven’t seen them push that on others.

So, I wonder, why then would they assume Chris would allow that to happen to them at his own wedding?

I feel relatively confident that as we talk more with them about all the wedding plans and once they meet the bridal party they’ll be more at ease.

UPDATE:

Unfortunately, in the end because of drama, certain family members were were removed from the wedding party and/or not invited to the wedding.  That was my husband’s choice, not mine, but I supported his decision.

It’s a shame things weren’t able to be worked out prior to our big wedding.  Many of the attendees expressed much delight about our wedding, stating it was the most memorable and fun wedding they had ever been to.

I worked very hard to weave together a wedding ceremony that involved a mixture of ancient Norse, Asatru, and modern Paganism traditions, songs, toasts, swordplay; with just a touch of geek.

What matters the most is that we were surrounded by people who love us and support our happiness.

RANDOM MUSIC

Covenant is an electronic band from Helsingborg, Sweden. Their music comprises a mixture between synthpop and electronic body music (EBM).

Bullet was released in 2003.

Wicca, Weddings, and Family

My fiancé and I are in fairly regular contact throughout the day, nothing major, just simple connections at certain times of the day. Usually updates on our busy schedules and comforting words of encouragement or love notes to make each day a little brighter.

We only text each other in person when we are unable to talk out loud.
We only text each other in person when we are unable to talk out loud.

After returning home from his martial arts class last night Chris sent me the following text:

Just spoke to mom about a bunch of things: your gift list, Xmas breakfast, and Wicca. She had questions and felt better asking than assuming. 🙂

I read that and immediately called him!

The conversation went something like this:

 Me: “Hey! Sooo… what did she ask???”

Chris: “Oh she just wanted to know more about Wicca and what it meant. She asked if she’d heard correctly about you mentioning your coven”

Me: “Uh… ok.” *sounding a tiny bit worried*

Chris: “Mom is pretty open-minded. She likes to watch those episodes about Ancient Egypt on the History Channel so she has a bit of an understanding about pre-Christian religion.”

After they talked I guess both Chris and his mom realized they had concerns regarding his grandmother. His Italian Catholic grandmother from New Jersey, more specifically.  Luckily, this isn’t news for me; we’ve already talked at length about this from the very beginning.

Pope_John_Paul_II_beatification

I then reminded him about my families. On my father’s side my great-aunts are such devout Catholics they used to go on Pope tours! They are quite proud to be Polish and when he was still alive they followed John Paul II around from location to location as though they were Dead-heads and he was the Grateful Dead. (I’m certain there’s a joke in there somewhere. I shall resist.)

In contrast, my mom’s side, who are also Catholic, are Filipino Catholic and thus a bit more superstitious, but also incredibly devout Catholics, especially when it came to baptisms, weddings, and funerals.

And then we have my birth mother’s side of the family. They’re predominantly Mormon, with many of them being the Temple garment wearing type of Mormons. So, very devout.

anchorage-mormon-temple1
Mormon Temple in Anchorage, AK

Members from all three of these families will be invited to our wedding.

I told him last night that how people behave or react to our choice of religion or wedding ceremony is simply not something we can waste time worrying about. There is the chance that they’ll be gracious enough to attend with an open mind and enjoy it for what it is. However, if they have deep issues with it, they don’t need to attend. It would certainly be disappointing if that happened, but then the choice to ruin their opportunity for sharing in our joyous moment was done so by them, not us.

I also suggested that by worrying over it, giving energy to the possibility of problems creates drama where none has yet occurred. That perhaps it would be in our best interest to not yet worry about something that has not shown it’s self to assuredly be an issue. If it does indeed become an issue we’ll deal with it then.

He knew I was right. (This marriage-to-be is already off to a great start!)

I do know that some of my family members are uncomfortable or just critical of my choice of religion, among other things. Those family members in particular are not very close to me, nor have they ever made much of an effort to get to know me anyway, so their criticism of me is irrelevant to my overall well being. In other words, I don’t care what they think. Coincidentally, none of them will be invited to the wedding. 😉

I have other friends where the family religion conflict was such a big issue for the wedding that it brought strife and many tears to the should-be-happy couple.

I’m aware that some situations are complicated, but in my opinion, if the happy couple are paying for their own wedding, the unpleasant and unkind criticism of the couple by family regarding their happy day should be kept to one’s self. It seems unreasonable and selfish to put pressure on a couple to do their ceremony in a way different than what they wish for just to please those who are critical of them.

wedding-crashers-picture

This is supposed to be a celebration of love, if you’re bringing hurtful criticism and unreasonable demands to the table it’s time you step back and figure out what your overall motivation is and why you insist on doing such a thing.

Anyway, it seems like more conversations may occur before our wedding, but I’m up for it. Luckily, I have a fair amount of experience explaining Wicca to those with no previous exposure to alternative religions. Such is life outside the broomcloset!

RANDOM MUSIC

Russian pop-music! This song was released in 2005. Arash is an Persian performer, who resides in Sweden. Blestyaschie (Russian: Блестящие, English: The Shining Ones) are a Russian pop group. Though Arash is known for singing in Persian, in this particular song he’s singing in Russian. I love the blending of the cultures in this song. Very fascinating!

Arash Feat. Blestyashchie~ Vostochnye Skazki (Russian: Восточные сказки, English: Oriental Fairytales)