David Lee

Sent: Saturday, October 02, 2010 12:41 PM

Lorin decided about two weeks ago to stop all cancer treatment and went home to his top floor corner apartment in Pohai Nani to die.  Juliet and I made several visits as he gradually weakened, and we were grateful for our last times with him.  He was in some discomfort and pain, but Hospice kept him liberally medicated so it didn't appear to be too bad.  Despite whatever severity he may actually have been experiencing, he displayed his customary resolution and courage even as he acknowledged that getting to death was physically harder than he thought it would be, a longer hike with deeper thickets of hau and uluhe to cut through before falling off the pali.  His pedagogical passion for accuracy continued unabated.  Almost his last thoughts to me were to correct my pronunciation of the Chinese city, "Xian".  It's "Ceehan", he murmured, "Not Shian".

I met him in the fall of 1973, and he quickly became an important influence in my life.  He was natural teacher from whom I learned to appreciate the Hawaiian natural environment and the cultural richness of Hawaii.  I bear witness to his gifts to me, and nibble away at repaying them, every time I lead a tour at the Manoa Heritage Center.  At times he could be a bit of a curmudgeon, but that gruffness was only a carapace which shielded a gentle, kind, compassionate soul.  He loved Hawaii as deeply and passionately as anyone I have ever known.  A few days ago, in response to my question about his favorite place on Earth, he softly said, "Wailau".  The meaning of Wailau, "many waters", exemplifies him because he was assuredly a man whose life richly nurtured others across a broad range of interests and concerns.

He was not a religious man and would probably contest that he was even "spiritual".  His life was what was knowable, mappable, discoverable.  If life were a hike, it was one full of wonder, discovery, and joy, and whether one chose the metaphorical conceit of ascent or descent, ridges or valleys, views or pools, the course was to be crawled, walked, climbed, slipped, tumbled, endured with honor, grace, perseverance, and humor.  Tabi, a guava climbing stick, and good Scotch made the journey easier and sharing what one knew gave meaning and nurtured the hope that society could be better than it had been.  He was a great human being, and Juliet and I shall miss him, and be guided by him, for the rest of our lives.

During his last days he would describe the feeling of being in a grove--the one in the 'ili of Malama in Wailau perhaps--and hearing conversations in which he was actively participating only to find himself back in his room with the people to whom he was speaking.  He understood that he was imagining the journey back and forth, but it was pleasant, and he chuckled when I told him that a grove was a much better place to imagine being in than sundry alternatives.  I like that image of Lorin in a grove: talking, sharing, his voice enthusiastic, full of narrative urgency, his hands adding visual emphasis, his T-shirt muddy with experience.