It’s a rare opportunity when a class gets to show its love and aloha for a classmate via a major memorial service. Doing so with five day’s notice is another story.
Organizing the decoration of Punahou School’s expansive Hemmeter Fieldhouse and Dole Cafeteria is no small task. You have to pull together floral expertise (Babs Miyano-Young and Renee Ahuna Cabrinha), nurture a conduit into the school (Linda Sutton Torres), and develop a communications plan to madly collect all of the monetary contributions, floral donations, and hands-on support that you can. You have to order and pick up flowers, prep and arrange the decorations, and have plenty of food and water on hand to keep the volunteers on task. Done poorly, you are like a thrashing swimmer attracting nothing but the sharks. Done well, it’s smooth sailing right into the sunset.
After learning of Scott Metcalf’s death, the shock with which the news was initially received was gradually replaced with an overwhelming desire to reach out to share memories and express condolences. Much of this was done face-to-face, on the phone, and via social media such as facebook and the class blog. That eased the grief but many felt that more needed to be done.
Because of the role that Scott played in our class, there was a strong wish to have a Punahou74 presence at his memorial service. Given the number of classmates who were available to help, the opinion was formed that we could take on the considerable job of providing the flowers. Securing Renee “wedding planner extraordinare” Ahuna Cabrinha and Babs “the art of flowers” Miyano-Young’s commitment, the offer was made to provide this assistance. Our offer was graciously accepted by the family.
So we got the job. That was the easy part. But this news was learned on Tuesday afternoon and the service was scheduled for the upcoming Sunday … only five days away. We needed to get moving.
Thank goodness for modern technology because the fingers were flying and the texting was fast and furious. Basic ideas were developed and impediments identified. Given that this is a low point for Hawaii yards–and the bountiful yards of reunion donors had been picked clean just seven weeks previously for our 40th reunion–we knew that we would have to order some flowers to get the job done. (Hate to say it but the fact that blue is not exactly a common flower color in Hawaii gardens–and this was to be a true blue buff ‘n’ blue affair–also drove the ordering metric.) Supplies such as floral foam, vases, wires, styrofoam, toothpicks as well as refreshments would also be needed to pull this all together.
With time being of the essence, the decision was hotly debated and then made to solicit funds from classmates to support the project. A crowd funding request was programmed and posted on the web. Would people respond? I truly did not know. Asking for help is not something that I take lightly but I knew it was needed. Would others understand and answer this request? Time would tell.
The appeal went live late Tuesday night Hawaii time. Sheree Lum Orsi was the first to respond. Yuriko Wellington and Janet Bertram quickly followed. Good start. But more funding was needed. Would we get it? Too tired to watch any longer I closed down my computer and turned in for the night.
I was seated on the bus the next morning when I turned on my iPhone. I wondered if we had received any more responses and tentatively pressed the email icon. Then I waited and waited for the connection to be made and for the mail to download. Then I gasped. As the mail appeared on the screen I scrolled down. One subject line was repeated over and over: “Donation received from …” “Donation received from … ? Name after name tumbled forth, names that I both recognized and well knew.
There were also many messages of aloha.
- We will miss you Scott, we know you will forever watch over us at Punahou, your home!
- Aloha ʻoe, dear friend. We will never forget you.
- In memory of a life lived demonstrating the spirit of Aloha.
- Reunions won’t be the same without you. Aloha, Scott.
- Honoring a true friend and ambassador of Aloha. Scott, you will be forever in our hearts.
- A Son of Hawaii who will be truly missed! God speed. Mahalo Scott for teaching us how to Live Aloha!
- … until we meet again.
I gasped, hand to mouth. Feeling the love that was expressed it was all that I could do to keep from bursting into tears of joy. This was truly humbling. I was overwhelmed.
Faced with an accelerating rate of donations, I took down the appeal mid-morning. $1,660 had been raised … far more than had been requested thanks to the generosity of those mentioned before as well as Fay Inoyue Aitcheson, Bruce Ashford, Mary Madinger Balding, Bryann Bromley, Pauline Chang Chin, Susan Seto Donlon, Virginia Dennis Ewing, Tom Farrell, Teresa Chun Flory, Ann Harakawa, David Jones, Cathy Kam Ho, Lynne Gartley Meyer, Gail Mulholland Ringwalt, Ian Sandison, Catherine Tomkison, and Marcia Barrett Wright. There were also three anonymous donations. Thank you. Your support made all the difference.
But the hard physical work lay ahead.
First step was to get the flowers to Punahou. Flora were donated from the yards of Lynne Gartley Meyer, Fred Gartley ’49, Tom Farrell, Lee Ann Gullickson Nicolay, and Lynette Lo Kanda, and Bruce Ashford. Pickups from both the yards and commercial establishments were made by Kelley Nakano, Fred Hu, and Lee Ann Nicolay. Special thanks go out to Ian Sandison who let Lynne borrow his truck while he was vacationing on the mainland (talk about trusting a woman driver!).
Second step was to engineer the winged “O” and kahili that would be on display. Alvin “I can make it” Cabrinha took up this gauntlet and easily showed everyone why he is the prop master to the stars.
The stage was set. The air conditioned athletic office looked and smelled like a floral shop as heaps of delicate blooms were organized in overflowing buckets. Outside, tables and chairs were set for the finer jobs while red ginger, heliconia, fern, and agapanthus were washed and cleaned.
Now it was time to put it all together. We had a great team of classmates to make it happen: Leslie Ching Allen, Mary Madinger Balding, Pauline Chang Chin, Susan Seto Donlon, Tom Farrell, Mike Green, Cathy Kam Ho, Linda DeSilva Howe, Fred Hu, Denise Hearn Kersting, Mary Jane Markoskie, Earl Nakaya, Kelley Nakano, Lee Ann Nicolay, Taren Taguchi, Linda Sutton Torres, Yuri Wellington. Punahou74 children and significant others also came to lend a hand. (If I missed a name please let me know.)
Donated funds kept us strengthened for our labors with a cooler of ice cold water and coconut water that Mary Madinger Balding shopped for and assembled as well as an order of pizza. The menu was rounded out with Fred Hu’s manapua, Nancy Dew Metcalf’s bentos and Gaye Miyasaki’s BLT salad. Linda Sutton Torres also donated additional well-iced water and juice.
During the day the Metcalf family stopped by to view the gym and to appraise the preparations for the service. Having taken his oral history, I spoke with Dean Tom Metcalf. He said that the family was “overwhelmed” by the outpouring following Scott’s death and expressed his and the family’s sincere appreciation for what Punahou74 was doing. I thanked him for giving us the opportunity to help. Nothing more needed to be said.
Decorating for Scott was a LOT of work but also a lot of fun. Many of us would be there from 10 a.m. on taking time to talk story while areca fronds were braided, plumeria were placed on toothpicks, and buff ‘n’ blue arrangements took form. Final touches would wait for the next day but, by 7:30 p.m., the job was largely done. Pau.
Many of us went to Ryan’s afterwards where we lifted a toast to Scott Metcalf. A life, and a day, well lived for all.
Click here to learn more about Scott Metcalf’s memorial service.
Oh … and the flowers? How did they turn out? Want to see more than the yellow arrangement to the left? Click here to take a look at what was made and the busy worker bees who put it all together!