By Diane Ako
There’s a saying that there are no accidents. I have to wonder if that applies here. This is a small story about weird and wonderful coincidences.
My grandparents’ Pauoa home was bulldozed in April 2009, after standing there for more than 80 years. Our relatives owned the plot of land, but the sibling trio was getting too old to maintain it any longer. They finally sold it to the next door neighbor, the Honpa Hongwanji Temple of Hawaii, which had been interested for decades.
I, of course, took some final photos, before the structure was bulldozed. Imagine my surprise when I learned someone else had captured images of it, too – but this person was a total stranger.
In April, my cousin Janice called me to tell me about a random encounter she had with an acquaintance of hers. She bumped into a guy named Mike Todd at the café in the building where they work, and he showed her his latest drawings. He’s an amateur painter who sketches as a hobby with a group called SketchCrawlers. She recognized one of the sketches as my grandparents’ house!
I said I wanted to see the drawing, so she gave me his e mail. This is what he told me: “You certainly can see the painting! I had no idea I might actually know anyone connected with this house! When I saw how fast the house had been demolished, I was glad I had painted it. I chose it because it looked like an interesting subject and because I didn’t want the image of such a building to be lost after all the history it had been through. I also thought it might be sentimental to someone - and I was right. I believe in synchronicity, meaning things do happen for a reason and there are no coincidences. So this was probably not so random.
I first saw the building on Wednesday, March 18th, some time after the hedge around the house had been cut to the ground. It was drizzling and I wasn’t sure about doing a sketch in bad weather. But I also felt I might not get another chance. I started the preliminary sketch then and luckily got to go back and finish it on the 24th. I was very surprised at how fast it was demolished after that! We went by three days later and saw it was gone!"
We met shortly thereafter and I was impressed with his work. The home he drew looked warm and inviting – not neglected and abandoned as it did in the end. I offered to buy the painting, but he doesn’t sell his art.
I thought he was such a nice guy with a neat hobby that I invited him to come talk about Sketchcrawlers on the morning show. Here he is (on the left) with his friend, talking about their sketches.
Mike did, however, let me make a color copy of the piece, which I framed and gave to my mother as a gift. It was the home she was born and raised in, and it means a lot to her.
We looked through her old photo albums and there aren’t any shots of the actual house, so it ended up being a really nice memento to have of the place. Strange, that a stranger would help us connect to a piece of our history in such a sentimental way. Or… maybe not such a coincidence at all?