Monthly Archives: January 2013

Abercrombie administration appears to be leading attack on journalist shield law

Just as I’m trying to slowly ease back into the world after my mother’s death, it was disappointing to read that the House Judiciary Committee, at the urging of the Abercrombie administration, has recommended stripping most protections from the state’s five-year old journalist “shield” law.

HB622, introduced by former Speaker Calvin Say and several members of his faction, would have made the broad protections of the current law permanent by deleting a “sunset” provision set to repeal the law at the end of this fiscal year.

However, the House Judiciary Committee reportedly amended the bill to cripple the law by dramatically limiting the circumstances under which its protections would apply. Unfortunately, as of this morning, the committee draft is not yet available on the capitol website.

Both the Star-Advertiser and Civil Beat reported today on the committee’s action.

This is doubly disappointing. It’s one of the first tests of the new and supposedly more progressive House leadership and so far, at least on this key measure, they have moved to the right of the former Lingle administration, which negotiated the current law with First Amendment and media activists back in 2008. It’s also disappointing that the push to strip away journalists’ protections is coming from Democratic Governor Neil Abercrombie’s administration. I think a lot of us expected and continue to expect more from Neil.

A Star-Bulletin editorial in October 2007 noted that then-Congressman Abercrombie was the only House Democrat to vote to protect journalists against being forced to disclose confidential sources in federal court.

Rep. Neil Abercrombie, the lone Democrat to vote against a media shield law, is correct in arguing that the First Amendment alone should protect journalists from disclosing their confidential sources. Unfortunately, the federal courts have ruled otherwise and a shield law is needed to establish a modicum of protection with consistency throughout the U.S. judicial system.

I hope there’s still time for the Legislature and the governor to shift course and do the right thing by making the current law permanent.

Last gift (after Rivera)

Not long ago, my mother had noticed that the mainland fruit company, Harry & David, had a sale on their Royal Riviera Pears.

These are my mother’s favorites and, despite sometimes hefty shipping charges and her congenital frugality, they regularly appeared on holidays, special occasions, and of course when they were on sale. In this case, the special occasion was Meda’s birthday on January 22.

But by the time the pears arrived, my mother had fallen, been processed through the Straub emergency room, and moved to the Palolo hospice house where she died yesterday morning.

I opened the shipping box a few days ago. The card read: “A gift for you.”

It might have read: “A final gift for you.”

In my mind, I could see the poignant final painting by Diego Rivera. We were fortunate enough to have seen the original in a Rivera retrospective in the Philadelphia Art Museum years ago. This morning, after our walk, I put my old Canon G10 into macro mode and went to work. I had one thing Deigo Rivera didn’t benefit from–a gray cat as background. By the way, there’s a Hawaii link back to Rivera. The style of the great Hawaii artist and muralist, Jean Charlot, developed when he studied with Rivera as a young man in Mexico the 1920s.



I don’t know if this does justice to my mother’s many gifts, but it will have to do for now. As always, click on either photo to see a larger version.

Thank you all for your expressions of condolence and support. They are much appreciated as we deal with the many complex feelings left by the huge void that has been left behind.

Helen Yonge Lind 1914-2013

My mother died this morning at about 7 a.m. in a hospice house in the back of Palolo Valley.

The first photo was taken on Kahala Beach in late 1941. The second taken on Easter Sunday, 2012, during a visit to our home in Kaaawa.

1941 photo

2012 photo

Before her recent decline, she wrote her own obituary.

Here’s what she wrote, more or less. The original was written in her own hand.

Born Honolulu. Graduate Kamehameha School for Girls (before coed), and UH Manoa. Former instructor in Food Science, UH-Manoa. Also former secretary, Hawaiian Historical Society.

Survived by son, Ian Yonge Lind and wife, Meda, of Kaaawa; daughter, Bonnie (Lind) Stevens of California and Honolulu; granddaughter Christine (Lamont) Kemp and son, Kimo Lamont of Manteca, CA, and several great granddaughters.

Memorials to the Helen Yonge Lind Scholarship Fund
University of Hawaii Foundation
2444 Dole Street
Honolulu, HI 96822

On the beach 1941 (photos)

[text]I’m still just beginning the process of going through my mother’s photographs, most of which I don’t recall seeing before. This photo was taken on Kahala Beach, probably in 1941. One thing you notice is how much more sand there was back in that era. The sand is quite wide in this photo. Kahala didn’t look much like that the last time I walked the beach.

In any case, just click on the picture to see all of today’s “on the beach” photographs.

Thinking about “death with dignity”

Another morning with no overnight telephone call from the hospice house in the back of Palolo Valley where my mother has been for the past week. It means she’s still alive. Barely.

On Friday, I was sure she would not survive the night. On Saturday, I was sure she would certainly not survive another night. Yesterday, as I prepared to leave, again for the last time, I just looked at my sister, Bonnie, and said with a shrug, “she may surprise us again.” And she has.

I want to think that my mother is aware, at some deep level, when I’m there at her bedside. I have short, one-sided conversations with her, trying to convey a sense of calm, letting her know that any past issues have been resolved and that she can go any time she chooses. It’s all okay now, is my message.

Perhaps, after nearly 99 years, there is just a lot of life to process before being ready to move on. Perhaps your life doesn’t just flash before your eyes, but is recounted at a slower pace as you prepare to walk that final path. Maybe you can choose to watch the life story to the end, or walk through the door at intermission. I don’t know. It’s all part of the mystery.

What is clear is that dying is hard work, and she’s been working at it for more than a week. I’m exhausted, emotionally and physically, just from watching. She must be as well.

In a recent comment, one person asked: ” Without sounding insensitive, am wondering if your experience has affected your views on end of life choices, including assisted suicide.”

Short answer, not really. It has strengthened my general support for Death with Dignity legislation. But it also raises the question of when and how a person’s wish to die with dignity would be fulfilled.

In my mother’s case, even after her personal physician and a hospice doctor said she was not expected to live more than six months, she assured us that she was not dying, despite the hospice diagnosis. And as long as she wasn’t dying, she would not have taken advantage of a system of physician-assisted death, although I think she would have wanted to have that option. Then her health quickly deteriorated in the past couple of weeks. She now realized she is dying and even said at least once she had already died, but she was now in a mental fog and would not have been capable of exercising her right to die with dignity. Would the responsibility of fulfilling her wish fall on us? If she had gotten an end-of-life prescription, would it have been our job to administer it?

This is only the second time I’ve gone through this death experience with someone very close. My dad died just a couple of years ago, and now my mom is near her end. But we’ve gone through it with a number of cats who we also loved. Cats have a way of telling you when they are ready. They stop eating, and stop caring for themselves. If allowed, they would probably find a place to hide in the hard and just wait to die. But we intervene at that point and seek the help of our veterinarian to make the passing quick and painless. It’s always very hard on us, the survivors. But much easier on the one who is dying.

Given my mother’s condition for the past ten days, quick and painless would have been a blessing, and could have avoided the lang, drawn-out, difficult work of dying.