Luckily I haven’t had to go to too many funerals in my life. Just my parents, one or two relatives and a few friends. All of the services have been in either a church       or a temple.When my husband died, he did not have a funeral. My girlfriend and her husband were the only two people there besides me. We scattered his ashes        at at Laguna Beach in his favorite cave and we said a prayer on the shore. 

So, yesterday, when I went to a funeral of a friend of the family, it was the first time I had ever been to a service at a mortuary.

One of my favorite TV shows was Six Feet Under. This was a great series based on a family who lived in and ran a funeral parlor. The hushed carpeted lobby and tastefully adorned room where the actual services were held, did not prepare me for this place.

The name of the mortuary is Hosoi Gardens and it is on the edge of Chinatown in downtown Honolulu. It is on the corner of Nuuanu and Kukui St. and there are

no Gardens.

The parking lot is back to back with Zippy’s, but it is very difficult to find the entrance. The parts that go into Zippy’s easy to access lot are chained and blocked.

When we finally got a place to park in their pot filled parking lot, we entered the building. It is a hollow tile structure with a similar style to a public school. I will

say that they had a nice ramp to enter by, next to the three front steps.

The sliding glass doors led to a brown cement lobby area and then a folding accordian door led to the actual service area.

There were rows of grey metal folding chairs and harsh florescent lighting. The flower arrangements were placed on various wooden and metal platforms. There   was a dark brown wooden podium and two chairs for the featured speakers.

I don’t know what I was expecting at this point, but I wasn’t prepared for the beautiful service, which was delivered mostly in Hawaiian. The deceased was    Hawaiian and a graduate of Kamehameha Schools in 1952.

 

 

Ke Ali’i Bernice Pauahi Paki Bishop (1831-1884)
Founder of Kamehameha Schools 

In 1883, Bernice Pauahi Paki Bishop bequeathed her entire estate for the establishment of a school to educate Hawaiian children. Today, her endowment supports the largest independent pre-kindergarten through grade 12 school in the United States.  Born December 19, 1831 in Honolulu, Hawai`i to High Chiefs Abner Paki and Laura Konia, Pauahi Paki was the great-granddaughter of Kamehameha I, the warrior chief who united all the islands of Hawai`i under his rule in 1810.

Not only were many of her classmates there, but they sang school songs accompanied by a woman playing the ukelele.

The ceremony was mostly in Hawaiian, with the Lords Prayer and psalms chanted in the ancient way.

There were about a dozen women who were decendants of Hawaiian Royalty. They wore traditional white holomuus, white stockings and white shoes. The average age appeared to be around 75 to 80 and almost all the women had silver or white hair.

They wore royal feather head leis, which I learned have great significance. These feather leis are made from special birds and the feathers are gathered without hurting or killing the birds.

There were four men singers in velvet capes reminiscent of Kamehameha.The men and women surrounded the casket and sang beautiful Hawaiian songs, ending with Aloha Oe.

There was not a dry eye in the house by that time. Then it was time for her friends to get up and tell about her. What an amazing life and the entire audience was very moved.

I didn’t know the deceased very well, but by the time the service was over, I felt as though I did.

In traditional Hawaiian style, food is served in the ajoining ‘dining’ area after a funeral. It looked like a school cafeteria, with metal tables and chairs. The food was in steel metal warming trays. There was rice (of course), macaroni salad, shoyu chicken, spareribs, noodles and chop suey. There were forks and chopsticks and the crowd seemed to enjoy the meal.

So even though the place itself was very simple and plain, with zero decor, the whole funeral was really lovely and memorable and one of the nicest services I have ever attended.

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