Among all the stories flowing around Twitter, occasionally something jumps out as extraordinary.
Such a thing caught the attention of our writer Mr. Sato and many others earlier this week. It’s a manga written by illustrator Kiyomaro (@sobomiyako98) and follows her uncle on a trip to Hawaii and a life-altering chance encounter with two young men there.
The tale, titled "The Story of the Time my Uncle Went to Hawaii," begins with the introduction of Kiyomaro’s uncle. He’s an elderly man who had the misfortune of slipping on the road on a snowy day and ended up with a broken neck that paralyzed his legs.
However, he worked hard at rehabilitation in order to fulfill his goal of visiting his favorite place of Hawaii again. It worked, and two years later he was on the sandy beaches of Waikiki. He thought to himself that having accomplished this trip, he could die a happy man with no regrets.
But just then, two young men approached him from behind.
Her uncle was startled and reflexively told the men he didn’t have any money.
Unfazed by the accusation, the large man asked him if he wanted to go swimming, and his blond friend added, “It’s Waikiki, ain’t it?”
The uncle was able to speak fluent English, and pointed out that he couldn’t swim because of his wheelchair.
"So what?” replied the muscular gentleman, causing his friend to repeat “It’s Waikiki, ain’t it?”
The larger man reiterated his offer; “So, do you wanna go in, or don’t ya?” to which the uncle replied, “Of course, I would if I could…”
And just like that, the two men carried him into the sea and helped him swim. The uncle was crying tears of joy but in the back of his mind wondered, “Are they going to charge me for this afterwards?”
It was so much fun that the time seemed to fly by, and when it was all over the two men gently put the uncle back into his wheelchair. He was surprised that they never charged him, and felt a little guilty to have suspected them of something like that in the first place.
Kiyomaro’s uncle used to be a tour guide though, and knew the potential dangers of visiting another country.
Then, as if they hadn’t done anything, the two men turned to leave saying “It’s was a pleasure,” and “Mahalo” which means “thanks” in Hawaiian.
The uncle was stunned that they were thanking him rather than the other way around. He asked them why they said it was their pleasure.
The muscular man turned and said, “We just did what we would want someone else to do for us if we were in your position.” The blond man added, “And thanks to you we’re in a totally good mood now. Aloha!”
However, prior to this adventure, the uncle had been told by his doctor that he was suffering from another serious illness in addition to his injury.
He knew that Hawaii was going to be the last trip he would ever take.
When the uncle returned home he told his family the story of what happened in Waikiki over and over again. His spirits were brighter than they had ever been and he had a pure love of life, even while stuck in a hospital bed.
And he still had a truly peaceful look on his face the day he passed away – possibly while dreaming of that fateful encounter in Waikiki.
To this day Kiyomaro has no idea who those two men were, but if she ever got the chance she would like to say “mahalo” to them on behalf of her uncle.
Mr Sato spoke with Kiyomaro about the story and asked what she would want to say to those two men if she ever got in touch with them:
“I would like to say that thanks those two men, my uncle was able to live the rest of his life in sincere happiness until the very last moment. He was calmer than even before all his problems started.
After he was given a short time to live he became very lonely… Some relatives thought he should cancel his trip which also caused him some grief.
But since returning to Japan he was brighter and more relaxed than ever, with a genuine love for life. If it weren’t for his experience, then his final days in the hospital would have been very different.
I have the utmost appreciation for those men.”
Kiyomaro also said that her drawings of the two men were based solely on her uncle’s description of them, because there were no photographs to go by. She said that her uncle described one man as being muscular and just a little smaller than the sumo wrestler Konishiki, and the other man as a long-haired, blond surfer-type, both were probably in their late-twenties.
If you happen to be in the Waikiki area and know a pair of guys like the ones described in the story, please pass on Kiyomaro’s family’s thanks. And if sometime in the distant future you see someone in a wheelchair sitting by the beach, staring longingly at the waves, maybe offer to take them swimming too.
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