Friday, December 9, 2016

Because of the Weather

 I awake to the news of a tsunami warning for the Hawaiian islands; the threat comes from a 7.8 magnitude earthquake in the Solomon Islands. How connected we all are on this beautiful, ever-in-motion planet. A few hours later the warning ends, but not before I instinctively calculate various evacuation plans.

Throughout the night, I was awakened by fierce, pounding rain, splashing off the concrete patio. During our visit, we've also witnessed epic snowfall. Hard to imagine in Hawaii, but a man who works at the hotel, tells us he loaded the kids and drove up to Mauna Kea where three feet of snow had fallen. Together, they shoveled and packed into the back of his truck, all the snow they could fit, then drove to the beach and had a snowball fight. Epic memory.

Hawaii is home to beautiful weather. Most of the week has been sunny with temperatures in the 80s. Yet, it seems island weather-blessings are intermixed with a few weather surprises.

In 2003, Tony and I, four children, two son-in-laws and one grandchild traveled to Hawaii to celebrate Christmas. Christmas day included a tree--really a branch, plucked from a bush, decorated with lights. Stockings hung from a coffee table were athletic socks. There were no gifts, so we gave each other two imaginary gifts with two simple guidelines. The first gift had to be a gift with no monetary limit. If I wanted to give a daughter a villa in the south of France, I had the power to do so. The second gift could have no monetary value--it had to be something that money could not buy: health, happiness, an increase in IQ.

The gifts were heartfelt, well thought-out and touching. Each gift-giver had to think out what was meaningful to his or her recipient. One daughter gave a son-in-law the cure for diabetes. Another gift was happiness and laughter. And yes, there were some pretty elaborate no-expense-barred gifts too: a fleet of jets, endless containers of Haagen Dazs, and exotic islands.

It was a peaceful, love-filled week of Christmas...and then a hurricane off the coast of Kauai created a turbulent preparation for departure. Before we left the rented house, we had to pack up, clean up, empty the trash, the dishwasher, and wash the towels. As we worked, the rain came harder...and then, we lost all power. When we took out the trash, we noticed the road was beginning to wash out. Time was of the essence.

Talking stopped, serious masks took over once smiling faces. Every action was focused and hurried. We worked tightly with one another; if one person finished packing, she rushed to help load the car--one people, one goal--all in candlelight and flashlight.

At dusk, muddy water gushing over the road, threatening to wash it out of our reach, we drove away, thankfully and safely from Anini Beach...

a favorite memory of the power of family working together.