Sunday, March 15, 2009
photo courtesy of Mike Foley
Yesterday, I along with a multitude of people throughout the islands and from different countries paid our last respects and bade a fond aloha to "Uncle Bill," William Kauaiwiulaokalani Wallace III. He was and still is a very good uncle. I say still is, because although he is gone in the flesh, his spirit lives on, and though I don't see him; I know he is there alive and well in the spirit world.
I just wanted to take a moment to remember him. He accomplished so much in his life. He was a young 60 years of age when he passed away, but he had lived a very full and awe inspiring life. He was a lawyer, judge, professor, kumu hula, and a very loving father. If I know anything about Uncle Bill, it is that he LOVES his family, and although he has tons and tons of extended family, myself included ;) it is like EVERYONE is related to him... for reals :) He treated everyone as his family and everyone loved and respected him as such too.
Uncle Bill was one of my professors at BYUH. One thing that stands out the most from what I learned from him, is that it is very important to KNOW WHO YOU ARE. I was taught this from my parents, grandparents, church leaders, and friends. It is something I was taught is important as I was growing up and I understand that it is important, and in one of Uncle Bill's classes I had had a true "Ah Hahhhhh," moment.
We were reading through the book, Vaka: Saga of a Polynesian Canoe (a very good book for anyone interested in a good read about the populating of the Polynesian islands). Uncle Bill was generating a discussion of our reading assignment and rather than trying to explain what the author meant, he "did" it. We were covering a section about the importance of genealogy. Upon stopping and visiting an island populated with lethally fierce people, the main character was able to stay alive by greeting the islanders' with a chant of his genealogy. The royal leaders or ali'i of the different island kingdoms maintained strong ties by intermarrying. By chanting his genealogy, the main character renewed those bonds of family and was welcomed with open arms and love.
Uncle Bill went on to chant his genealogy, five generations from the past to him in the present. I totally felt "chicken skin," and not cause my chinese sign is the rooster :) LOLOL. All the blocks of information I was taught growing up clicked right into place. He then went on to display his skill as a kumu hula and demonstrated through dance. I was totally amazed. He was such a beautiful dancer and chanter. He could have easily done that in his life and been renowned for it, but Uncle Bill chose education and the law and those of us who were his students have truly been blessed.
His lesson was further instilled because he assigned each of us to do the same with our own genealogy. We had to start from five generations back to us in the present and we had to get up and present it to the class. I felt very proud being able to do that. With each generation I recited I felt the mana of who I am, who I came from, and that they and I are one and the same. It was a very powerful personal and wonderful experience.
I remember him for this and for the love of family that he always shared with me. I know he is in a better place. I know he and Auntie Niki are reunited again in love and joy. We who are left behind are the ones suffering the loss of a great man and a good loving caring leader, while those in Heaven joyously welcome him home.
I love you Uncle Bill! Thank you for all that you have done for me!
Alofaaga e le Mavae, Siana