My throat is tight and my eyes are moist as I write this. Fred Hemmings posted on Facebook today… “Just visited Rabbit. The sun is setting in his long life of aloha. How lucky we are to share it with him.” I was sad to see this post but also felt extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to make memories with the legendary Rabbit Kekai.
If we could all be so lucky to live such a rich life… do what we love… be our authentic selves… help, touch, guide and love others… and INSPIRE the way Uncle Rabbit does. NINETY-FIVE YEARS… that alone, is remarkable. As I reminisce, I thought I would share a story and an interview… we love you Uncle Rabbit! THANK YOU for being you.
I met Uncle Rabbit for the first time in the year 2000. I had just moved to Oahu to attend the University of Hawaii at Manoa and was “sampling” all of the surf spots. This particular morning, I paddled out at Queens.
I didn’t know anyone. I was the white girl on a longboard… could pass for a tourist I suppose. There were a couple of guys that paddled over to say hi. One of them kept calling me “Honey Girl” … which was weird, but hey… at least someone was being nice to me! You never know what can happen when you paddle out to a new spot. ha ha!
An old man – probably in his 70′s or 80′s – paddled out on a longboard and sat deep. I could tell he garnered respect. I didn’t know who he was… I was a small-town Big Island girl, didn’t follow that kind of stuff.
He caught a few waves. Effortlessly. With grace.
The slightly annoying (but nice) guy that was calling me “Honey Girl” kept chatting with me every time he paddled back out. <<Internal eye roll>>
The old man was “observing” me… did I do something wrong? Oh no… did I cut someone off?! Was there hannabatta hanging out my nose?
He paddled over…
and said to me… “Eh! How come dat guy calling you HORNY girl?!”
LOL – years later, I would find out that this is CLASSIC Rabbit Kekai! Fast-forward 16 years and I’m so lucky to be able to call him “Uncle Rabbit”… he’s a legend, he tells it like it is, he has the biggest heart and so much passion for the ocean and those that slide on it and swim in it.
Over the years, I’ve shared moments with him at parties, award ceremonies and various surf competitions (including his Keiki Surf Contest). He hangs out in his beach chair, hands out jerseys, talks story with old and young, passes out prizes, gives advice (and compliments the pretty girls)… this “old man” is so young at heart.
I’ve been lucky enough to do several interviews with Uncle Rabbit for KGMB9 and Hawaii News Now over the years. On his 90th birthday I interviewed him at Duke’s in Waikiki… he sure is a class act!
Malika: “Your advice for the kolohe groms out there?
Rabbit: “Kick their butts!” (He also mentioned respect, courtesy and looking out for one another he he…)
If you want to know more about Uncle Rabbit click HERE - I love this article from the Star Advertiser.