Our trip to Hilo was in fulfillment of Uncle Harry’s wish to rest his ashes in the waters of Hawaii.
Ten minutes from the village of his youth was Reeds Bay Beach. We were told by a relative that from a young age, his grandfather took them to this beach for swimming and diving lessons. They will paddle the canoe up to the breakwater to meet the waves. One by one, each child jumped in the water with grandpa. Anyone who said no was pushed out of the boat and had to learn how to swim or pass on by drowning. It was an initiation rite.
We now might look at this teaching method as inhumane or in violation of human rights but this was how it was done for many generations and it worked!
Because Reeds Bay Beach carried plenty of these fond memories, it was chosen as Uncle Harry’s resting place.
Located on Banyan Drive (the road along which most of the hotels in Hilo are located), Reeds Bay Beach Park offers a calm and shallow swimming area. The bay consists of white sand and coral rubble (the western edge of Reeds Bay is man-made). Between 1925 and 1930, coral material was dredged at Hilo Harbor and deposited here. Sailboats anchor in the waters offshore, and other smaller boats are launched from shore.
A twenty one gun salute was a dramatic way to start the ceremony. It was followed by an exchange of some beautiful parting words from friends and relatives who were present. Afterwards, we then boarded the dinghy which took us to the breakwater where Uncle Harry’s ashes were scattered. This was the same breakwater where his grandpa would take them for the swimming lessons.
The sun was shining on that beautiful morning. Uncle Harry must be pleased, because he is home, he is free and he is swimming again with grandpa….