Undefeated by Dark Times
Pictured: (Left – right) Dr. Elliot Kalauawa, Waikiki Health’s Chief Medical Officer | Ralph Aviles, former professional boxer
It’s happened maybe a dozen times already. Within a minute of running into someone I know or meeting someone new, I’m asked about a guest whom I interviewed recently on our weekly Long Story Short program.
“You know, the man from Waikīkī,” said Blake Johnson of Honolulu, shortly after we met at a PBS Hawai‘i film screening. “What a guy! I can’t think of his name.”
Mr. Johnson went on: “You ask yourself, ‘Can he be real?’”
He was referring to Dr. Elliot Kalauawa, Chief Medical Officer at nonprofit Waikiki Health, who matter-of-factly told about growing up in Pālolo public housing. An only child, he didn’t know his father, and at a young age, his single mother left him on his own much of the time, going off to drink and gamble.
There was not the slightest trace of self-pity or bitterness as he related how he would eat dinner alone most evenings and put himself to bed. In the light of morning, he would find his mother sleeping soundly in her bed. Taking care not to awaken her, he would kiss her goodbye before making his way to school.
The future Dr. Kalauawa blamed no one for his circumstances. He knew that his mother loved bars and card games. He also knew that she loved him.
“I’m really happy I came upon that program,” Mr. Johnson smiled. “He’s quite a person. Yes, he’s real.”
Viewer Judy Soares also was moved by Dr. Kalauawa’s story. And she found former professional boxer Ralph Aviles “spell-binding” as he described his tough early childhood and his volunteer work today with at-risk youth.
Ms. Soares wrote: “I am a retired teacher who worked at a school where children came from difficult family circumstances. I used to spend many hours worrying about their futures. After seeing your interviews, I was so happy to see the resilience both men displayed.”
“…Both now have a dedication to helping less fortunate people. But they don’t do the helping in a condescending way – they respect the people they are helping. It’s inspirational.”
These Long Story Short guests are not celebrities, but they shine. Their dark times didn’t defeat them. These men quietly illuminate their lives and those of others.
A hui hou (until next time),