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Ron Nagasawa

Seasons Of Life

There is nothing like graduations in Hawaii. There are preschool and kindergarten graduations, middle school graduations, college and, of course, high school graduations. Next to Christmas, graduation season is probably one of the most expensive, since the islands are so small that it’s guaranteed you know at least 10 people graduating from one of the above-mentioned in any given year. That means leis and flowers, gifts, balloons, cards and money envelopes.

Sure, it’s a happy occasion, and for many local folks it’s part of the way we map out the year: mango season, bon dance season, UH women’s volleyball season, hurricane season … you know what I mean.

My wife works at a school, so it’s the pinnacle of her year. And our 17-year-old daughter has friends who graduate from her high school, and that’s a big deal, too.

Me, I’m the combination personal driver/bag man/human ATM. My job boils down to fighting traffic and finding a parking space, holding all the leis and those stupid inflatable animal inner tubes, and inserting cash into the graduation envelopes. Of course, when our son graduated from high school, we were on the receiving end of that. Still, even then my job was to fight traffic and find parking, hold all his leis and balloons and insert cash into the hands of the caterers where we threw his graduation party.

Despite all that, I love the way we celebrate graduations in Hawaii — how college graduates decorate their mortarboards, and how everyone creates elaborate signs to hold for their child when they break out into the alphabetical areas to greet family and friends.

All that aloha is pretty cool, as we all shared in our kid’s educational journey.

No one will be prouder than me when our daughter graduates from high school next year. I’m looking forward to fighting traffic and finding parking, holding all her leis and paying for any kind of party she wants to have. Of course, that leads right into FAFSA season — the time of year to apply for those college student loans.

rnagasawa@midweek.com

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