As Time Goes By

Those of you who are into British sitcom will recognize the title of this article as the name of a popular BBC sitcom which aired from 1992 to 2005 and its reruns are still viewed on Public Television channels. It follows the relationship between two old time friends who have reunited after thirty eight years. Now although I am an Irishman, I have watched this British humor, as well as others, on more than one occasion and so am borrowing the title if not the humor.
Since I arrived here in Kalaupapa seven years, five months and nineteen days ago, and counting, we have bade farewell to three of our fondly remembered patients who celebrate Christmas in the hallowed halls of the heavenly mansions. There was Catherine who’s voice would raise the rafters in Kanaana Hou Church. There was Lelepali who led the services in Hou Church and who on Wednesday and Saturday evenings refereed the community volley ball games on the field opposite one of the most sacred sites in town, the local bar of fond memory. Then there was Elizabeth who was a devout devotee of King Elvis and whose bed was always covered in stuffed animals prompting the question, “Where do you sleep, Elizabeth?” I participated in the final farewell to each of them.
Over the years we have bid farewell to administrator Mark who had welcomed me to this settlement in 2012 and to Too Tall Steve, the superintendent of the NPS. Both have now retired on the mainland. Ron with the Irish name began a new life in Alaska and from his home he sent me a shining whiskey flask. He must have thought that my name is Jameson. Erik and Claire left us for new adventures in the south seas, leaving a hole in our lives and an empty spot in our church pews. More recently Big Erik retired to Topside to follow more closely his Minnesota Vikings and store boss, Xianna, moved to the mainland to be closer to her son, Keoki. Sir Walter and his bride, Kehau, retired to go on a second honeymoon. We miss them all, as time goes by, and hope that they come back often to visit us and to play volley ball.
Soon one of our longtime stalwarts will return to his home on the Big Island. Lionel has been here for over thirty years ensuring that we always have an unending supply of the best water I’ve tasted since my childhood in the west of Ireland, as well as an ample supply of beer. We wish him the very best because he has been the very best and we hope that he too will return to us once in a while to play volley ball, as time goes by. Aloha.

Fr. Pat Killilea ss.cc.
St. Francis Church, Kalaupapa, Hawaii.

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