On my recent trip back to Hawaii to see my youngest niece graduate from University of Hawaii. I looked forward to her graduation, not only because I am so proud of her achievements but also to see how much of the Aloha spirit was incorporated into the ceremony. I was also excited about the experience of seeing our childhood home in Wahiawa after 32 years being away. Once we touched down and walked off the plane I immediately remembered that unforgettable embrace of hawaii's trade winds that still swept me off my feet...I immediately fell back in love. However, I wasn't prepared for the emotional jolt at the sight of the banyan tree at the moana Surfrider which my beloved late mum loved so much. It brought tears to my eyes each time I looked at it from our room at the hotel. I thought it may be too soon after hospice with our beloved mother finally losing her battle just a short year and a half ago to go back to the island she adopted so many years ago. As I began experiencing all the sights, aromas and of course those trade winds again I was so glad I followed my sisters, niece and my heart back to this magical place.
That little Haole girl I used to be craved to revisit in person mostly places I remember so well back when we were stationed on wheeler AFB in early 1960's including the day my teacher stopped us during our work to hear that terrible announcement that our president had been shot dead in Dallas. Our bus trip back and forth to school was one some only dream of. We drove through Dole pineapple fields surrounded by glorious mountain ranges on the way to St Michaels.
I remember my little friend, Lucy Santiago, Lucy was a local girl whose responsible for me falling in love with being barefoot as we skipped through the sugar patriotic family. My father was a Lt Colonel Ret. so prior to retirement I lived on Air Force bases around the world, watched the Flag being saluted and my father for that matter while in his uniform. Today I find all my staples and my soft places to fall as a patriot have hardened. There is no place for a patriot to feel safe anymore. If I claim my fervour I am scolded by Americans who feel it is 'cool' to judge our country harshly, especially global warming wise, and I am applauded by Canadians who wish they had the very right I have to be a patriot! Why am I a patriot? When I am in Canada my pride in US is bolstered due to a lack of patriotism in this great country and I see clearly my reasons are quite obvious. Our country is assertive simply put, due to the fact that we are who we are. Our presence stands for it itself in many cases one need not boast or we do become the 'ugly americans'. But, I for one, do want to boast because as I shield myself from the tomatoes thrown at me and my flag by other countries including canada we still are the ones who march in, drive in, fly into to rescue when needed.
Call me old fashioned, not ALL THAT old fashioned, but, still I crave the old days of hand over heart during the national anthem, singing out loud and proud to scane fields to grab a quick snack during recess. I never forgot that feeling of being a part of hawaii's volcanic earth underneath my feet. Climbing the vast branches of trees back on base listening as my mother or father called me down for dinner on sperry loop drive is one moment I'd love to have back again if only to hear their voices once again. One of my favorite times is when our mom enrolled all 3 of us sisters, she called us 'her girls', who have always been as different as night and day, into Hula classes. Mom made our matching Muumuu's for our hula show at the officers club where we performed pearly shells. My
baby sis of course stole the show being tiny and freaking adorable in her mini muumuu. My older
sister winced as in serious pain at the thought of somehow developing 'lovely hula hands' at the awkward age of 12. I loved anything to do with being "On Stage" so I was all in for pearly shells although the hula hands never did trickle down from mom down the line...they went directly to our baby sis who still has moms gift of graceful lovely hula hands! I believe the flood of memories that consumed me while I was there was perhaps because my parents seemed genuinely happy there. I still remember the cocktail parties they had. We tried to ignore the laughing and clinking of martini glasses and we fell asleep with Don Ho music filling the air.
We left Hawaii in 1964 and moved back to California and moved on, but, my little sister never quite left Hawaii behind. I felt a reconnection with Hawaii but more so a kindred spirit with my sisters as we sat under the historic banyan tree allowing its giant shadow to hover over as like our mom did all our life. The mighty pacific, our father so loved and wrote about in his book , Above the Pacific' was lapping up on the Waikiki shore as we simply were once again part of each other's lives. We rested safely there under those enormous branches allowing us to heal and feel all that the beautiful aloha spirit holds for those who embrace it. Our beloved parents presence is strong there and I know they drew us all back there above the heavenly pacific skies. This Haole will be back again...
Hawaiian pacific sky.