I swear this story will be a movie some day. Wish I was a better story teller, but here goes.
The picture above is of my Tutu and Grandpa. (Tutu means Grandma in Hawaiian.) They met in Logan, Utah while attending Utah State University, at the rollerskating rink. They started dating and became skating partners on a travelling team. (We still have their original roller skates!)
It was 1941 and war time. My Grandpa was Forestry major and was drafted. He said good bye to Tutu, promised he would write, and was sent to Pearl Harbor. At that time, you worked 7 days on and had one day off. Grandpa had been on Oahu for 7 days, and had his first day of leave. It was December 7, 1941. He and a friend took their cameras and decided to see "paradise" on their first day off.
They were taking pictures of taro patches, green mountains and beautiful beaches. They were also photographing planes flying above. It didn't take long to realized they weren't our planes and that bombs were being dropped from those planes. Grandpa and his friend hid in a ditch and took pictures of the Japanese planes flying in to bomb Pearl Harbor. (He kept his film for years before he developed it, because he knew it would have been confiscated. )
He and Tutu sent many edited letters back and forth for two years. Grandpa tried desperately to get clearance for her to come to Hawaii but it was denied over and over again. Only wives of soldiers were being brought over. The military didn't want any distractions for it's soldiers. Finally, after a vow to marry this sweet girl, he was given the ok to bring her over. Grandpa proposed in a letter and Tutu said yes.
She was born and raised in Logan, Utah and had never left that valley. She packed her bags, boarded a train and travelled to San Francisco. She waited for days in San Francisco, each day, checking in at the Ferry Building to see if the Navy Cargo ship to Honolulu had arrived. It was war time and that kind of info was top secret. When the boat finally arrived, she was one of a handful of women ( and the only single woman) on a cargo ship filled with hundreds of sailors, travelling to Hawaii.
When the cargo ship arrived at Pearl Harbor, Grandpa was there to meet her. They hadn't seen each other in two years. They had two days to get married or Tutu was going back. Military orders. In her trunk was the wedding dress that she had made and a few other belongings. It was the beginning of a completely new life for her.
When they married, Tutu had to fulfill a 2 year commitment to the Navy in return for bringing her over. She worked as a secretary and Grandpa was working in the Navy shipyard. They were also discovering the magic of Hawaii that still is with our family today. Two years later, my Dad was born.
Grandpa made huge, beautiful balsa wood surfboards and spent much of his time out in the ocean. He swears he was in the water when Duke was surfing. (If you've been to Hawaii, you've probably eaten at Duke's restaurant- one of the most famous old-time surfers.) He does have a bunch of pictures of Duke in his photo album. Isn't he cool? (He's holding an eel!)
Tutu and Grandpa had all three of their kids in Hawaii and lived on the islands for about 15 years. Their kids learned to swim in the Pacific Ocean. They were asked not to wear shoes to school because not all the kids had them. They traded their peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for rice balls at lunch.
Tutu and Grandpa spend the rest of their married life along the California coast. They served a mission together and spent most of their time visiting their kids and grandkids. About 14 years ago Tutu developed Alzheimer's disease and Grandpa spent many years tirelessly loving and caring for her. He was a wonderful example to our entire family of how a devoted husband truly loves his wife. Tutu died 7 years ago.
Grandpa, 89, was living in San Diego. He drove a convertible, had a trainer at the gym, and loved to drive to the ocean to watch the surfers. Two months ago he bought a time share with the anticipation of many years to enjoy it. Talk about optimism. That was one trait of his I love! Three days after Thanksgiving, Grandpa suddenly died.
Thankfully, my Dad drove all night and was at his side. Grandpa was in a coma, but Dad had each of us talk to him over the phone before they removed his life support. It was a Sunday morning, early, and I was trying to get all the kids ready for church. It was a morning I won't forget. What do you say to someone in a minute that has had such a grand impact on your life? Grandpa died 10 minutes later. His temple recommend expired that day. We found a love letter he had written Tutu on the top of his nightstand, with her picture on it. He is a man I love and admire. I'm proud to be his granddaughter. He loved this country, loved the Lord and adored his family. I am thrilled that he and Tutu are concluding the greatest love story ever, in the best way possible, they are together.
6 years ago