Doggie kisses

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Tono and me

All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well… for there is a Force of love moving through the universe that holds us fast and will never let us go. 
—Julian of Norwich

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought or whispered to myself as I’ve walked down the stairs to the cafeteria here at Kaiser Moanalua Medical Center, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.” Regardless of what happens next. Which is a difficult posture to maintain—life or death… recovering from a cardiac bypass… Yes, Life Is Good. And we have been graced with the kindness of strangers and people we barely know throughout this whole experience.

For example, today in Room 324, we had validation of that all manner of thing shall be well with the arrival of two four-footed furry friends making the rounds with their people.

mel and tono

Tono and Mel Kai

Tono Kai, a local service dog, travels the hallways of Kaiser Moanalua Medical Center with his person, Mel Kai a couple of times a week. They’d visited us once before in a room across the hall before Dick’s surgery, and we both melted at the sight of the big blond dog with his blue bandana and official Kaiser ID hanging from his collar.

Mel asked if we wanted a visit, and though Dick couldn’t see them at first from the bed, I jumped up and said, “Oh, yes!” So they came in and, after sniffing each of us, Tono lay down on the cool floor. I got down there with him and learned again that Tono enjoys head scratches (like Dick) and belly rubs (Dick not so much right now), and is a master healer.

We’ve enjoyed visits from a number of folks here—some of whom we know and some of whom are new to us. Yesterday Sue Young, one of Dick’s friends whom he met in the 1970s when he lived here and worked for the then-named Honolulu Star-Bulletin, came to see us. Sue was married to Bob Young, who became Dick’s best Hawaii buddy. He and Dick stayed close until Bob’s death a decade ago.

And in one of those there-are-no-coincidences moments, we learned that Bob Young’s sister Jackie was also in this same hospital. She’d had a stroke and was in a room two floors above ours.

Today we also got a visit from Jervin Wait, who took a series of local buses out to see us. He and his wife Dolly spend four months in Honolulu every year, escaping part of a South Dakota winter. They bus everywhere, and though Jerv (who is a high school friend of Dick’s brother-in-law, John Thompson) doesn’t know us, he’s been kind to email and make a visit.

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Dick and Hawaii Jan

Hawaii Jan (as we call her; I’m California Jan), the daughter of one of Dick’s former Sacramento Bee photographer buddies, has been a lifesaver. Not only did she find us the rental house we’ll stay in starting Wednesday, she also brought us supplies to make our stay here easier (the warm pink sweatshirt-material blanket!) picked me up and took me to lunch last Saturday. Few visitors get to lunch at the Alley Restaurant, which is a part of the Aiea Bowling Alley. I had the specialty chicken sandwich, Jan had a good-looking burger, and we both shared the lemon crunch cake, which had what tasted like crushed toffee on top. Heaven!

Also today we got a second visit from a four-footed, furry friend named Indy, who arrived with his person Steve. And chaplain Leavitt Thomas has been in pretty much daily to chat with us. Andy and Leona Doughty, who came to take me to dinner the night before Dick’s surgery and then sat with me during the surgery, as well as my former student Makena Ongoy, who’s done Target runs and bought me stuff I’d never have thought of… this has meant the world to us.

We’ve been bidding our fond aloha to nurses and health aides who’ve tended to us over the past two weeks, to internal medicine docs and cardiac folks—even the cafeteria ladies—each of whom has treated us like ohana—family. We are beyond touched by this. And while it’ll be nice to let Dick rest in a house where he won’t be awakened so often, we’ll miss these devoted Kaiser Moanalua staff folks who have taken such tender care of him… and me, too.

Mahalo nui loa to you all.

tono and dick

Tono and Dick




About janishaag

Writer, writing coach, editor
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8 Responses to Doggie kisses

  1. Hilary A says:

    A house! A house! And a dog (not in the house)! Keep the good news coming! xo

  2. Dorothy Haag says:

    This gorgeous doggie reminds me of Sherry, our first dog!

    Love, Mom


  3. Patricia Honeycutt says:

    So happy to see that Dick will be in a house soon to recoup. Would be my pleasure to put together a care package of any items you both need. You have my email… anything!
    Love your story!! So touching!! In the time of need to have such overwhelming amount of help and compassionate people, is absolutely amazing!! God speed ➖ and much LOVE 🌺

  4. Deja says:

    I just love this❣️Dogs offer so much love and healing. Sounds like HI Kaiser is heaven by your accounts. So glad Dick is recovering well and not surprised at all the help and blessings you’re receiving. Good people attract good. I definitely want to see you two when you get home and are ready. Much love and many blessings. Deja💖😊💫

  5. Connie Johnstone says:

    Jan and Dick. Traveling mercies as you take the next step on your journey. Surrounding you with all the healing light we can possibly send! Connie and Blair

    Sent from my iPhone


  6. Donna Just says:

    Love all the warm and fuzzies, both human and canine!!

  7. Pingback: Dick’s Great Heart adventure | Güd wrtr

  8. Pingback: Otherwise | Güd wrtr

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