by Eva Andrade, August 23, 2019
My grandmother, Eva Rocha Andrade, was the woman I was named after. She had a deep faith and strong ties to her siblings. She came from a period that forged strong familial bonds because their generation had to live through the depression. Although she passed several years ago, I often wonder what she would say about how our relationships today are built on technology.
She was born and raised on Maui and lived in the Portuguese “camp” at Hamakuapoko. My great grandfather Joe Rocha and great grandmother Teresa Rocha had eight daughters and one son. After my great grandmother died in childbirth, my great grandfather remarried and added another son and daughter to his close-knit family.
Her younger sister Nettie, was the last of the Rocha girls belonging to Joe and Teresa Rocha. She passed away yesterday, just 42 days shy of 99. I share this only because I felt a great sadness at the news. Not only because she was an amazing woman of strength and character, but because I felt like the last tie to my grandmother was severed.
Her sisters often remarked how lucky I was to be named after a woman who was the first female post mistress in Haiku. A circle of sisters that also included the first female airplane instrument mechanic in Hawai’i (ANNA CHARLOTTE “ANNE L.” “ANNIE” ROCHA).
My great aunt Anne, was also hearing impaired. She never let that disability stop her from achieving great things in her life. She was a tough lady – quite the tom-boy in fact.
My grandmother, and her sisters, had this fight in them that created a one-way ticket to achievement, but it did not come easy to them. My grandmother often told my brothers and I the stories of hardship and struggles. What made these stories stand out was the strength that they developed in these hard times because of their family.
I remember one conversation I had with my grandmother after she was diagnosed with lung cancer. She honestly spoke of her fear of the unknown and how she missed the family members that had passed before her. Knowing that death would surely come for her, she tearfully reported that life would win in the end. Because, she said, there is something that we, people of faith, hold onto for dear life – and that is the promise of what comes next.
My auntie Nettie, I believe, was greeted in heaven by her siblings. That reunion must be shaking the heavens, because a lot of time has passed on this earth. Sadness today, but joy comes in the morning.
As my grandmother said so beautifully, life wins.