When I travel, I always get the local newspaper (provided I can read the language) to get the flavor of a city’s life and politics. And I always read the obituaries because, in death, you can learn a lot about the lives and legacy of individuals and the culture of a place.
I’m in Honolulu and have been reading the obituaries in The Honolulu Star-Advertiser. As in everything Hawaiian, the obituaries are a rich multicultural mix including people of Filipino, Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese and native Hawaiian backgrounds.
One obituary in particular caught my eye, of a 93-year-old woman named Te’amalelalolagi Lale Igafo-Saole. Born in 1920 in American Samoa, she would have witnessed vast changes in Samoa and Hawaii, from World War II through today’s mass tourism. But it was her personal history that struck me; she leaves behind five children, 66 grandchildren and 40 great-grandchildren. I could imagine big family gatherings including her upcoming funeral with, as her obituary requested, mourners to be dressed in “Sunday best attire.”
Another obituary, for 65-year-old Honolulu-born Richard Torres, included the details of an outdoor service at a beach in remembrance of him. Not uncommon in Hawaii, where life and death as well as daily joy are celebrated at the islands’ beaches. But the beach’s name definitely caught my eye – it’s called Pray for Sex beach.
Turns out that “Pray for Sex” is a nickname for Oahu’s isolated Makua Beach, derived from that saying that was spray-painted on a rock at the ocean’s edge. I found a little background about the beach on a Hawaii blog
Amazing where obituaries can take you….