I’m turning gray. No, I am gray. I try to look dignified as my hip catches while getting out of a chair. While walking, I try to stand as tall as I can to take the pressure off my messed up knee so I don’t limp. Walking in heels is out of the question because I fall in the most public of places.
In other words, I’m getting old. I’ve reached the years of used to be. I used to be able to bike a hundred miles, I used to run, I used to jump and skip. I used to be young.
Now this isn’t a complaint. I’m fine where I’m at in time. I just think I don’t want respect.
Here in Hawaii, respect is a big part of the culture. You never go to someone’s home without taking some kind of offering, be it fruit, cooked food or dessert. This is showing respect for the other person’s hospitality. You always take off your shoes before entering their house and you never return from a trip without bringing gifts back for family and friends.
Children are taught from infancy to call adults, Aunty or Uncle. That is showing respect. The little children may not know who you are but they will always address you properly.
Often I’ve heard people who visit the islands comment when addressed as such by a wide-eyed, big grinning, gap toothed child. “Don’t call me that! I’m not your aunt.” It always seems to be women who complain. They’ve come here to enjoy the “Aloha spirit” and culture and right off the bat they interject their own culture. No respect!
For me, I loved it. I felt that my relatives were increasing and I was accepted in the islands. There aren’t as many “locals” as there used to be. There are more immigrants than people born here it seems. Large populations of military, tourist and investors have had a big effect on the Hawaiian culture.
Nobody leaves bags of mangos on their yard wall for any passerby to help himself or herself to. Rarely is anyone given a lei upon arrival to the islands, and it is the exception more than the rule to hear “Hi Aunty” from a little child.
Now I hear “Thank you Miss Karen” more then not. How did the South creep in?
Getting back to the old bones and falling down problems I mentioned. I say I’m fine at being on the autumn side of my life but maybe I don’t want to be reminded of it. When I was a young adult I loved being “Aunty” and I absolutely love to be aunt Karen to my nieces and nephews.
But there is another type of respect shown by the young adults I didn’t mention. Young adults always address those heading into their senior years as Aunty or Uncle also. The first time it happened to me I felt mixed emotions. Wonderful, this young man probably in his late 20’s, thinks of me as a local. Then my heart sank. I’m an old lady. He was showing me the ultimate respect that you would show someone of my age. Was I that old?
I’ve since been addressed as Aunty many times. Even the waitress who is my age! Addresses me as Aunty. But there is one more sign of respect to come Oh lord; I hope it won’t come for a long time. Though I am a grandmother I just don’t want to hear it.
Tutu. A very respectful name indeed for those heading down the geriatric road. It means Grandma, great grandma, old indeed. I’ll never need a calendar to tell me how old I am or look, as long as there are well brought up local children. I just wish I wasn’t’ so worthy of their respect.