Kauai resident Ernest Dung A'ana, here with granddaughter Madison Doyle, died Jan. 5 during a return trip from the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.
Sugar Bowl trip was final journey for UH fan
Two weeks before the biggest game ever for the University of Hawaii football team, Ernest Dung A'ana learned from doctors that he had terminal liver cancer.
He also had an aneurysm three times larger than normal, posing a danger on airline flights.
But that did not keep him from traveling to New Orleans to watch former UH quarterback Colt Brennan play in the Sugar Bowl.
The Hanapepe, Kauai, resident never returned from the trip. He died in Atlanta from complications from his aneurysm that started on a flight home.
"He was a big Colt fan," said his son Enoch A'ana, of Kailua-Kona.
When Brennan heard the story, he sent the family a package of football memorabilia.
"That was really precious to us that he did send something," A'ana said.
The family has not received the package yet, but they expect to get it before their father's funeral Saturday at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Ewa Beach.
Enoch A'ana recalled that his father told doctors, "You can break my arms, you can break my legs, but there's nothing that's going to stop me from going to see Colt Brennan play in the Sugar Bowl."
Ernest A'ana worked hard to score Sugar Bowl tickets, traveling to Honolulu twice, then finally getting them online.
"That's all he talked about was Colt this, Colt that," Enoch A'ana recalled. "It was because of the love of the game that he had and the love that he had for Colt Brennan. ... He never saw a team this powerful, this strong, this bonded. He saw something very special in Colt."
But there was another reason A'ana wanted to see the Warriors play in New Orleans.
"My dad spoke of the trip as being a gift from God," said A'ana's daughter Shanita Akana, of Ewa Beach. "He needed to share that news (of his illness) with my sister, who was in Florida."
If it were not for his wish to see the Sugar Bowl, his family would have never let him take the risk of traveling with the large aneurysm to see his daughter, Akana said.
On Dec. 28, A'ana left Honolulu to meet his daughter Carmel Doyle, whom he informed about his illness, in Pensacola, Fla. They drove to New Orleans.
"He was excited from the moment he stepped off the airplane," Doyle said. "He was fanatic about it and just very, very proud."
A'ana was a spiritual man. He made many sacrifices during his 35 years as a Honolulu police dispatcher to put his four daughters through private school. He was an anti-abortion activist and cared for his wife of 43 years, Sharron A'ana, who has diabetes.
He gave closure to all of his five children -- four children in Hawaii during Christmas -- and Doyle in Pensacola. A'ana was able to give Doyle the time she needed to grieve with him.
"Everything that I ever wanted to tell my dad, I told him," she said.
On Jan. 3, A'ana was on a flight from Georgia to Honolulu when his aneurysm inflamed. He was taken off the flight and sent to an Atlanta hospital. He died two days later of complications from the aneurysm.
His children hope their mother, who is in the Wilcox Hospital emergency room in Kauai because of complications from her diabetes, will be well enough to attend the funeral.