Celebrate The Little Things

An orchid plant in a porcelain vase sits at the end of a coffee table. Bob, admiring the graceful arc of pink flowers, smiles. The plant has been putting on a show for him, revealing a new blossom each day. These are the little things Bob lives for.

Bob farmingHis friends on the Big Island call him Kona Bob, a deserving name for a farmer who has spent a lifetime growing some of the world’s best Kona coffee. A red bandana and faded baseball cap make him look as if he has just stepped out of the coffee field.

Originally from upstate New York, Bob found his way to Kealakekua 40 years ago and purchased a 7-acre plantation high on the mountain. Bob took great pride in caring for the land, and the land loved him back. Running the farm was non-stop work, but Bob enjoyed the freedom of plantation life where at any moment he could look up and watch the Hawaiian hawks soaring among the clouds.

It was through the plantation that Bob met his wife, Jean. She was a city girl, unfamiliar with the wide open spaces of the Big Island. But the mountain, like Bob, captured her heart. Together they made a life in a home Bob built himself.

Kona coffee was just beginning its rise to fame, and Bob was one of the pioneers to perfect the art of growing the precious beans. Other farmers would visit him for advice, and Bob never turned anyone away. As Jean says, “I don’t think there is one person who doesn’t love Bob.”

A year ago, Bob was diagnosed with prostate cancer and stage three kidney disease. It was difficult news for a farmer who was used to working the land and nurturing the trees. Now Bob and Jean spend most of their time on Oahu, closer to his doctors and hospice caregivers. A dedicated team from Hospice Hawaii ensures that Bob is comfortable. Jessica, Erica and Linda are like his extended family, providing care, friendship and incredible emotional support. Masami, a Hospice Hawaii massage therapist, tells Bob to relax, close his eyes, and “travel” to a place he loves. His mind drifts back to the plantation high on the mountain where he feels most at home.

Bob and his wife, JeanEven in the city, surrounded by walls and concrete, Bob sees the trees as his old friends, he finds wonder in watching the clouds, he even spots a dainty Stephanotis seed floating by like a ballerina dancing in the wind.

Inside his living room, Bob says, “life is wonderful if you just open yourself up to it.” His eyes return to the orchid plant sitting on the coffee table. Each day, he has watched the perfect pink flowers unfold, like a gift. “When you watch that thing just blossom, what could be better?” His voice is filled with joy and his heart, appreciation.