Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Aloha, Dad

My dad died a year ago (July 16, 2006). I was in Mexico City.

On my morning walk yesterday I was listening to This American Life episode #14 "Accidental Documentaries." Act I played recordings of a family to their son at medical school in the 60's. A slice of American Life. Today I continued listening to the series and Act II was Ira Glass talking about his father who used to be a deejay before Ira was born. Act III was by Nora Moreno who's father was "a pioneer in Spanish-language broadcasting in America" and about how their parents met and married because of it.

This all brought me back to my dad and the anniversary of his death. I had been thinking a lot about him lately, wishing so many things had been different in his life and my life and our lives together. I have really wanted to ask him a lot of things lately. Not father daughter stuff, we had some of that when I was younger, so I'm not bothered by that. I want to know about his time in radio and television. I want to know about stuff that happened in his life way before I was even born.

I began to think of this a few weeks ago while Kurt and I watched a few Dodger games on TV and how Vin Scully is just amazing at what he does. He works alone, doing the play by play and in baseball it's mostly about filling time. So he has to know everything there is to know about players and teams and stats and history. He is so much fun to listen to. Now we are watching the Tour de France and Phil Liggett is the same way. I want to ask my dad what that was like, announcing games or events, filling time, how do you come up with all that talk? (I did know my dad well enough to know that this part wasn't particularly hard, "coming up with talk.")

My dad worked as a sportscaster in radio and TV in Honolulu in the late 40's and 50's. I believe he started in radio at KGMB and then he moved to TV when KONA TV (now KHON) kicked off its programming on Channel 2 June 24, 1953. My father was a "local personality" and was heavily promoted along with newsman Webley Edwards and entertainer Lucky Luck. Back in his radio days I'm told he recreated baseball games on the air. This is a lost skill and I barely know anything about it and I wish I could ask my dad about what it was like.

My dad was 43 when I was born and had been out of broadcasting for a long time by then. He moved on to advertising and PR in Honolulu and was very successful working for local politicians. And he was still sort of famous, I guess. When I was about nine or ten or eleven, older people who worked in stores, after seeing my last name, would ask me if Carlos Rivas was my grandfather. I would say "He's my dad" and they would say how they used to listen to him on the radio or TV. But I never knew that dad. The dad I knew worked as in-house marketing/PR for a development company on the Big Island and helped build Waikoloa. Then he retired and tried a few other businesses and all the while wrote (local newspaper columns, short stories, etc.)

By the time I was old enough to be myself around him, not the scared, aim-to-please little girl, and interested in him and his big life way before I came along, he was just beginning his descent into alzheimers. Too late. I didn't even know all the things I wanted to know about him and now I wish I could go back in time just to ask questions. Even for this blog post I had to supplement the family myths that are stored in my head with some online research. There is so much I just don't know.

I don't miss my dad the way most people miss their dads who have died. I barely knew the guy. I mean, I was 39 when he died, but he'd had alzheimers for about six or seven years and before that I was barely getting to know myself and how I even wanted to relate to him. My parents split up when I was about five so he was never a full time figure in my life. We knew each other well, but we weren't close. And now I want to just ask him questions about his life and I can't. I wish we could have been closer, I wish he could have been different in some ways. I wish I could have been different in some ways. I wish I wish I wish. I do know that my dad did the best he could with what he had.

Aloha Dad.


This is a very sweet photo. I am so sorry I missed the date. I am so sorry.
Your post moved me to tears. Thanks for the reminder to call my dad. Mourning is a process, isn't it, that's never over. Unfortunately, the "I wishes" will always be there no matter how much ground we cover with our loved ones.
Thank you both.
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