Writing In Honor Of Uncle Dan

Jade Moon
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Wednesday - October 04, 2006
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Uncle Dan was a true Hawaiian, 100 percent. He was gentle and loving-the kind of man who gave generously of his possessions, knowledge and time.

How do you measure the life and worth of a single person? In the case of Andrew Kane Oliver Manoa Jr, it is by the lives he touched. Not just the family, but also the people who benefited from his wisdom and experience. He was a Kupuna. As such, he felt a deep responsibility to teach children of all races about the traditions of his people and his land. His wife, partner and best friend Rowena says that for almost 25 years, Uncle Dan participated in the May Day program at neighboring Lanikai Elementary School, where he taught the kids how to prepare the imu and cook the pig. He was at Le Jardin Elementary Academy as a Kupuna as they welcomed the Hokulea into Kailua Bay. He was involved in the loi restoration at Windward Community College. He loved imparting knowledge to local students, but he was delighted to share with students from outside Hawaii as well.

One of the highlights of this Hawaiian man’s life was his visit to Kahoolawe. Uncle Dan took two his two hanai sons-Dave and Ed Duncan, and together they participated in the Makahiki festivities. This to him was the essence of his spirituality and his beliefs as a Hawaiian. His life, Rowena said, was complete.

Uncle Dan’s health fell prey to the scourge of so many of our local friends and to way too many native Hawaiians-diabetes. It made him sick, wrecked his body, and finally killed his kidneys. Dialysis kept him alive but it was clear he was not getting used to the thrice-a-week procedure. He grew weaker, and a paler, thinner shadow of his former vibrant self.

That’s when the younger of his hanai sons, Ed, stepped in. Dan had been there for him when he was growing up. Now he wanted to give back to this loving man, by donating one of his kidneys. Together they began the long process of qualifying for the transplant. Finally, there was hope.

But they never got to see it through. Uncle Dan died suddenly and shockingly before he got his life saving surgery. And in the end, it was not his kidneys that killed him-it was his heart. He drew his final breath on the same family property where he was born 68 years ago.

At his funeral hundreds of people gathered to pay respect to the man and offer condolences to Rowena. She held the service at their home, in the new house she and her husband had built, and where they had hoped to retire together. Their big backyard, scene of so many of Uncle Dan’s luaus, now was the setting for his farewell party.

How do you measure a man’s life and worth? By the people who tell you that he made a difference in their lives, and by those he somehow made better.

Manoa, according to the Pukui Elbert dictionary, has several meanings, depending on its pronunciation. It can mean very many, or numerous. Or it means solid and vast. Andrew Manoa loved and was loved by very many people. His influence was solid and vast.

Me ke aloha, Uncle Dan. And Mahalo for a life well lived.

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