Father's Day, Don Ho and the Hula

dad and Don HoToday is Father’s Day, so I posted this picture of my Dad as my Facebook status. It generated much interest (and a few questions), so I decided to blog about it.

My parents, both of whom I lost during this last decade, were . . . unusual. They were a pretty typical mom and dad in most ways, but they were also Hams with a capital H. For example, they loved to go on cruises that had costume contests, and for every talent show at their retirement village, they’d dust off an old vaudeville routine to entertain their neighbors. But the highlights of their entertainment career were definitely their “performances” with Don Ho.

Mom and Dad weren’t rich–Dad was a school principal–but costumethey were careful with money and after retirement, they were able to spend two months every winter in Hawaii. They adored Don Ho and at one of his shows, Mr Ho asked who in the audience had been married the longest. At nearly 60 years, my parents won the contest and were invited on stage. Don Ho didn’t know what he was getting into when he asked the old dude in the pink leisure suit and the elderly woman in the muumuu to join him. Dad started telling his jokes and Mom did the hula without waiting for an invitation. The audience loved it so much that Mr Ho invited my parents back. Again and again.

Even after my parents could no longer travel to Hawaii, Don Ho didn’t forget them. When Mom was in the hospital after suffering a heart attack, he called her to wish her well, impressing the nurses no end!

don ho momI probably have some of these details wrong (in which case my brothers and sister will be along to set me straight), but I think you can get a pretty good picture of my parents from this post. My siblings and I are all into the arts in some way–writing, art, theater, music–and we often say that “we don’t know where we got it from” because our parents never pursued any of those creative avenues. But maybe it simply boils down to a desire to entertain. That we come by naturally.


  1. Stephanie S. on June 20, 2010 at 6:49 pm

    What a touching story. Your parents sound like they were a lot of fun! Thank you for sharing Diane.

  2. Margo on June 20, 2010 at 7:20 pm

    Diane, your parents sound like mine…so similar…brings back so many memories of my parents…mother is still living but as you know, dad passed away 2 years ago…he would always get my mother out on the dance floor and they were fantastic together…on this Father’s Day, thank you for sharing.

  3. Gina on June 20, 2010 at 7:31 pm

    Oh what fun! I love this story Diane. Thanks so much for sharing. I love the pics!

  4. Gina on June 20, 2010 at 7:34 pm

    Also, you could tell by looking at Don Ho how charmed he was by your dad. So sweet…

  5. Debbie hearne on June 20, 2010 at 9:27 pm

    Thank you for sharing these wonderful memories of your parents!

  6. Margo on June 21, 2010 at 7:35 am

    Everyone, I want you to know how much I loved THE LIES WE TOLD…one of the things I love about Diane’s writing is that she ALWAYS manages to surprise us with something totally unexpected…as always, she delivered…I was completely breathless by the time I finished the book.

  7. Diane Chamberlain on June 21, 2010 at 8:57 am

    Thanks for the plug, Margo! I’m so glad you enjoyed TLWT.

  8. Margaret Maron on June 21, 2010 at 10:06 am

    Diane, loved learning about your parents. Definitely can see the resemblance to you in the picture of your mother. (See you Wednesday!)

  9. brenda on June 21, 2010 at 10:53 am

    What a wonderful story of two great parents…my children have terrific memories of their father and I-sadly we are not together any more…but when they see the DVD’s, they laugh…we were good together. Just want to tell you guys that after Pelican’s Watch, I read On Folly Beach-a fabulous fabulous read-several of my email bookclub members have read the latter also-and margo has it-it is fantastic…set in South Caroina…great book. You writers certainly give us hours of entertainment.

  10. brenda on June 21, 2010 at 10:55 am

    I am looking forward to reading a book set in Topsail, D…hint hint hint.

  11. brenda on June 21, 2010 at 10:57 am

    As you can tell, not only did I misuse the English language, but I battered my spelling. Okay, when I am talking about books and emailing-all rules are off…hope you guys can overlook that. Diane-where did your parents retire????? I am looking at retirement villages for the next couple of years.

  12. Diane Chamberlain on June 21, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    Yup, Margaret, I see Mom every time I look in the mirror.

    Brenda, I’ve heard great things about Karen White’s On Folly Beach. Love her writing. My parents retired to one of the MANY retirement villages in Lakewood, NJ — probably not where you want to be, but it was close to their beloved Jersey Shore.

  13. Joann scanlon on June 21, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    It’s your sister checking in. When mom broke her hip and was in the hospital Don Ho sent her a bouquet of flowers which included a bird of paradise and that’s what I recall had the nurses eyes open wide. Thanks for the pictures, Di. I had forgotten them and dad’s leisure suit gave me a loving laugh. Jo

  14. brenda on June 21, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    Diane, I don’t think I will live in NJ…am looking at the south–Villages in Florida, Ocean Isle/Wilmington area, Myrtle, and of course, near one of my children. I do like NJ and esp the area near NY-but out of my price…as to Karen White…I love her books also, and now am ready to resume my haunts of bookstores for old books, letters, etc. It is unique. Although the story takes place around WWII and the present, it is woven together perfectly. I loved the different plots…and the sense of place. Now-when can we expect info on your Midwife????

  15. Jackie on June 21, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    Sounds like you had wonderful parents….thanks for sharing.

  16. Diane Chamberlain on June 21, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    I’ll blog about Midwife soon. She’s undergoing some serious surgery!

    Joann, thanks for setting me straight. The flowers and Bird of Paradise are even better than a phone call.

  17. Rob Lopresti on June 21, 2010 at 9:44 pm

    Little brother checking in. Loved the pix and story. As for what you said about a desire to entertain… I dedicated my CD to my father, from whom I inherited a desire to make people laugh.


  18. Diane Chamberlain on June 21, 2010 at 10:18 pm

    Hi Little Brother. Your music does make me laugh, but it also makes me weep. Miss you!

  19. brenda on June 22, 2010 at 8:37 am

    I received an update from Amazon-from where I order many books…the title” WE rec. THE LIES WE TOLD…how neat-think how many people are getting that…wow…

  20. brenda on June 22, 2010 at 8:40 am

    Saw a woman looking at SUMMER’S CHILD-the new one-in the store yesterday…told her “BUY IT” one of my favorites…I am rereading some of my favorites as I pack for my trip to my son’s-for awhile…then my daughter’s…love the summers. Margo keeps me apprised of the new books coming out. In the meantime, my son has downloaded many on his IPAD…can’t wait to use it and see if I like that-might have to have that…combines uses of the e-readers with a computer…

  21. Diane Chamberlain on June 22, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    Thanks for being my personal salesperson, Brenda.

  22. Cindy Mathes on June 25, 2010 at 11:41 pm

    Diane, you have such a wonderful family. How awesome your parents were. I am sure your family was never bored when you all got together.

  23. Diane Chamberlain on June 27, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    We were actually pretty quiet and reserved when together. Away from the “kids” my parents had a different personality!

  24. Ned Bowne on April 17, 2016 at 6:02 pm

    I knew your father at Hurden Looker School and attended his retirement dinner. I was very happy to connect you with him after reading Silent Sister. I am sure he was very proud of you!
    We worked together for many years but I was unaware he was such a showman. His retirement years sound very happy.
    Congratulations on your success!
    Ned Bowne

    • Diane Chamberlain on April 17, 2016 at 9:32 pm

      How very nice to hear from you, Ned. Thank you for letting me know about your connection to my Dad. He and my mom really did live their lives fully. Hope you too are doing well.

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