Tribute to Dad on FB - May 12, 2018

It's with great sadness I share that my Dad, Joseph Alonzo, passed away yesterday. In the brief time since we've met, I've been honored to learn so much about him through the visits we've shared, my brother and sisters, his family and friends. He accomplished much in his 80 years. My Dad served our country proudly in the Navy for 20 years, rising to the rank of Chief Petty Officer. He became an expert throw net fisherman, an accomplished dancer of ballroom, swing, tango, you name it he could lead it, and enjoyed foliage farming on the big island of Hawaii. Joseph raised 4 beautiful children and was everyone's friend. He battled many ailments with strength and dignity and went peacefully with my brother and sisters by his side.

My dad was fortunate to have children that loved him dearly and continue to tell me that had he known about me, he would have made every effort to be apart of my life. My sister said he looked forward to having even a bigger family and I'm so grateful we could almost double it before he passed. :)

His zest for life, love of people, giving heart and sense of humor have impacted me greatly this last 4 1/2 months through my visits and stories I've heard. One of the greatest ways I've been able to experience Joseph Alonzo, has been through my siblings. My sisters and brother have embraced me, loved me and shared all they can about who he was and how he loved. I've seen him through their eyes and in who they are as people. They are the most precious gift given to me from my Dad.

The miracles in 2018 have been overwhelming and amazing. I was ecstatic to take 2 trips to meet everyone in January, which were, nothing short of incredible. An opportunity to return for a 3rd trip in late April was beyond my expectations and profoundly providential. I knew this would probably be the last time we'd meet. Staying with my sister, Brigitte and her family was so sweet and filled with long chats, enjoying cooking together and good food. Brad skinned and prepared a fresh coconut for me and I got to meet Kaliko, Brendon's girlfriend, for the first time. Brigitte took me to the grave sites of my Grandpa Ariston and Grandma Elizabeth. She lovingly gathered a bouquet of anthuriums and greenery from her yard for us to honor their memory. My Grandpa and Grandma are laid to rest in Hilo with ocean views, lava rock walls, green, lush hillsides surrounding them. It was a treasured time I'll always remember.

I spent 2 days caring for and visiting with my dad. He loves John Wayne movies and gazing at the family photos around his room. My friend Anna made him a "fidget quilt" and he loved it! It became part of his daily pile of things he liked to grasp and hold onto. I told him my story and as always, he asked where my mom is, even though he doesn't remember her. Sadness and a little frustration overshadow his face and his words as each time I let him know she passed away a couple years ago. But then, I showed him the photo album of my family and share about his grand kids, which brings a smile. This time, I played some slideshows I'd created of the kids over the years and being the dancer he was, he snapped his fingers to the beat.

Paula is Zeke, Iris and Liz's mom and I was so happy to spend part of a day on an excursion with her to Volcano. With the increased eruptions the park was quite busy. Due to the rain, fog and vog we caught a glimpse of the lava in the crater but mostly enjoyed the trek around the land of lava fields and contrasts between the dark rock and bright green foliage. One thing Paula said to me after dinner made me laugh. She said, I was curious to see what you'd do with your plate of food." I said, "Really?" "Yes," she said, "You cleaned your plate! I've never met an Alonzo that didn't eat all their food!" Well, I am my father's daughter in more ways than one. We enjoyed our time getting to know each other more and relishing the wonderful moments of our uniting together as family.

My final full day I was so excited to spend a whole day with Zeke driving to Kona, seeing Green Sands and a 2nd chance at Volcano to see the eruption. Most of our conversations have been immersed in family history and Dad's health. This day, we covered so many topics around our stories, dreams, and likenesses. I was delighted to introduce him to Ed's brother, Kraig and my sister-in-law, Leslie. We toured their coffee farm and lots of plant-talk filled our time! On our next stop, Zeke showed me Green Sands, which involved an adventurous 4-wheeling "drive" along the coast to a beach swiftly eroding away. In 5 years the beach and rock formations had changed dramatically from when he last saw them. The sand is made up mostly of olivine crystals from a past lava flow. Sunset was upon the crater when we arrived. It was a cold night for Hawai'i and inappropriately dressed as we were we hiked the trail in slippers (flip flops to us mainlanders) and very lightweight jackets. An enormous red glow of steam arising from Halemauamau Crater guides us to our destination, a photographer's dream ahead. Thank goodness Zeke grabbed his tripod! What a site! How many places can you stand on an erupting volcano?! This is the land of my father. Breathe it in, but not too much since toxic fumes permeate the air! LOL Despite the cold, we lasted an hour or more shooting, watching, mesmerized by its power. Near the end my toes and fingers were so numb I couldn't find the shutter release on my camera. We share a pure stubborn endurance in our personalities as well!

At home, Dad was up, dressed, very alert and more talkative. He's a night owl these days. He recognized me when I came in. I shared about our day at Volcano and showed him the video of the eruption. We took some silly photos, I said good-bye, gave him a hug and a kiss while saying, "I love you, Dad." He looked into my eyes and whispered, "I love you, too." That tender moment meant more than you can imagine. I almost immediately regretted not getting a video of our encounter, fearing I won't be able to remember him, his face. Such a brief time I've known him. As I've shared before, one week, another and then another will never be enough to make up for a lifetime. "Treasure the moments," I say to myself, "take them in...don't just take pictures of them." I was living and was present with him in that moment. Looking into his eyes I saw mine, once again, those deep brown eyes. I embedded his aged, dark, kind and beautiful face into my memory. Edward Bulwer-Lytton coined the phrase, "The pen is mightier than the sword." While the context might not have been for purposes of holding our memories captive, the pen and camera will, for my lifetime, safely hold my experiences with dad. Grief has come ever so gently although suddenly this year.

Dad would give us the salute at times when we'd try to get him to do something, like eat or drink! Navy habits dies hard. LOL

To you, Joseph Alonzo, Dad, I salute you for who you were and for the parts of yourself you gave me, never knowing the impact you were having on my life, those of my family and so many others through our lives and stories. Your legacy lives on and always will. Though we part for now, I'll eagerly await till we meet again and can "cut a rug" together in heaven.

I love you, your daughter, Terri

Dad, Zeke and I

Brigitte, Brad and Brendon Alonzo

Paula and I at Volcano

Kraig, Leslie, Zeke and I at Kona Farm Direct

Green Sands and Halemaumau Crater before the Earthquake

My Family - Iris, Liz, Me, Dad and Zeke

Powered by SmugMug Owner Log In