Bless you, YouTube. Bless you and curse you and thank you. You too, Facebook.
Compared to many of my friends, I'm a social media dilettante. I'm terribly neglectful of my Facebook account and even less attentive to LinkedIn. I don't tweet, I rarely Skype; most of my online hours are spent in research or email. Fortunately, my 'Net-wise friends haven't given up on me and they periodically email me reminders and links, so I won't miss out on any important stuff. Like Ruth's Ride.
My friend Bobalou is the primary caregiver for his 9-year-old daughter Ruth, who has been diagnosed with global developmental delay. Bobalou's built like a bear, a he-man with a heart of gold, but he ain't gettin' any younger, and as Ruthie grows bigger and stronger, it's getting harder to lift her and her wheelchair into the family car. So her mom created a Facebook page, Ruth's Ride, to rally support for a wheelchair-accessible vehicle. Through that page, they learned about an online contest in which Ruthie could win such a vehicle. The Local Heroes contest is being held by the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA) in celebration of May being National Mobility Awareness Month. You can learn more and you can vote to help Ruthie get her ride by going to www.facebook.com/Ruths
Ride and following the link to the NMEDA website.
Note to my computer-resistant, nonline friends (I don't know if nonline is a real term, but it should be): You see, Facebook is more than ego-driven ramblings and insipid one-liners; there's a lot of good stuff there too, good causes and good news. Just like the real world. But with photos of food.
If you're into that sort of thing, there are over 3 million food videos on YouTube. And a lot of other stuff too, good and bad. Talk about the real world, YouTube has video of virtually anything you could think of . . . and more than a few things you could never imagine.
Recently an old schoolmate and family friend, Kekuhaupi'o Akana, emailed me the links to a couple of videos posted on YouTube by Jim Moser. Keku and Jim were among hundreds of young men who were trained in Olympic weightlifting by my dad, Dr. Masayoshi Nelson Yogi. And they are two of perhaps a dozen who followed in his footsteps and dedicated themselves to mentoring youth through weightlifting. The videos were shot 15 or so years ago, in our garage. I didn't even know they existed, actual footage of my own he-man teddy bear of a father.
When he died in December 1999 at the age of 67, Daddy ("Doc" Yogi to everyone else) had been coaching for over 20 years. He trained five-time national champ Brian Okada and two-time Olympian Vernon Patao. He also worked with stroke patients and middle-aged Average Joes, giving each the same kind of attention he paid to his champion lifters.
As a young man, Daddy was quite a contender himself, having placed fifth at the 1959 Nationals and holding national Junior AAU records for a number of years. Some of my earliest memories are of Olympic weightlifting meets at the old Wailuku Gym. I remember being so proud, watching my dad hoist giant barbells above his head. Too young to appreciate either the risk or the effort involved, I thought he was the strongest man in the world, even if he didn't rip telephone books in half or drive nails into two-by-fours with his bare hands like his friend Tommy Kono.
Last week, I saw my dad lifting weights again for the first time in more than a dozen years. I have photos of him displayed in my house and on my phone, and they always make me smile. But watching him move and hearing his voice, I fell apart. I couldn't tell whether I was shedding tears of joy or sorrow, love or longing. I felt like a character in an Edgar Allan Poe or Jules Verne tale, bewildered and bewitched by grainy moving pictures. What sorcery is this, conjuring up my beloved father after all these years? Overwhelmed by delight and despair all at once, I cheered when he executed a perfect snatch, gasped out loud when he missed, spoke words of encouragement as he performed his reps. And at the end of "Island Style 2 (a tribute to Doc Yogi)," when the training session was over and the camera closed in on his laughing face, I called out his name and cried uncontrollably. Then I clicked "replay" and jumped right back into the time machine.
Thank you, Keku. Thank you, Jim. Thank you and bless you both.
* Kathy Collins is a performance artist, broadcaster and freelance writer whose "Sharing Mana'o" column appears every Wednesday. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.